1960 Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle Goes to Auction

There’s one word that resides at the heart of this car: experimental. Yes, this rare breed of machinery was created with a sole purpose, to test new automotive engineering for the years to come. It’s was a project that started in 1959, and each testing mule was named Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle (CERV). Used to develop the 1963 Sting Ray’s independent suspension, this is probably the most important GM Engineering vehicle.
CERV I 18 photos
Photo: RM Auctions
Let us pretend we are not all Chevrolet enthusiasts, in which case we need to take a short detour at the history class before looking into this auction. The action takes us back in 1959, when Chevrolet Staff engineer, designer, and race car driver Zora Arkus-Duntov started the development of a series of Chevrolet experimental vehicles.

The first in line was unveiled to the public at the Riverside International Raceway November 1960, and it was developed as a research tool for that company’s continuous efforts to understand automotive ride and handling phenomena. Its primary function was to provide the automaker’s engineer with a test platform from which direct visual studies were made from all types of ride and handling behavior under amplified conditions.

Getting back to the CERV I car in question, you should know its basic skeleton was a chromium-molybdenum steel tubular space frame, resembling the Italian Superleggera bodies created by Touring. The body was molded in two layers of fiberglass and weighed only 80 pounds (36 kg).

In terms of power, originally the CERV I was packing a fuel-injected, 289 cc inch V8 engine that was based on an earlier Corvette prototype with a silicon alloy block. In fact, most of the materials used to create this experimental vehicle were lightweight, a feature that made the finished model weigh 1,450 lbs (657 kg).

Arkus-Duntov protected his creations

Like he did with most of his creations, Arkus-Duntov managed to protect the auto and had the car restored, keeping it in its final 1964 Shinoda configuration with the aluminum 377 V8. In 1972, the vehicle, along with a later CERV II, was gifted by GM upon Briggs Cunningham for his automobile museum in Costa Mesa, California.

Even though it was supposed to remain as a Chevrolet memorabilia well kept in a museum, Cunningham’s was not permanent, and in 1986 the cars were sold along his collection to Miles Collier. The current owner bought the rare breed from Collier and has carefully preserved it ever since.

The vehicle will go under the hammer at RM Auctions in Monterey on August 13-15, and the price tag is ranging between $1.3 to $2 million.
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