Codenamed Project Opel, after GM’s German division, the project was approved in 1951 and two years later a prototype dubbed EX-122 was revealed to the public during the company’s annual Motorama held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City.
Released a few months later, the Corvette quickly became one of America’s favorite vehicles and it received constant upgrades throughout the years, making it even more desirable. The C1 was discontinued in 1962, making room for the completely new Sting Ray which took the nameplate’s success to another level. Five front-engine generations followed, and in 2020 the model became a mid-engine sports car.
But what if you could modernize one so flawlessly that it simply becomes a better vehicle without losing its vintage feel? This was the burning question on Eduard Pogea’s mind when Marcus Prinz von Anhalt, a controversial German businessman, stepped into his shop and asked if he could subtly yet extensively modify a 1959 C1 to perform like a modern sports car.
Pogea Racing was founded in 1997 and for the first few years of its existence, the German tuning house focused on repairs and tuning of five-cylinder Audi models, mainly the Porsche-developed RS 2 Avant. They moved into Mercedes and Abarth territory in the 2000s, but they remained faithful to the four rings, creating some outrageous custom versions of the TT or A1. Thus, the request to restomod an American icon was a completely new challenge for the company.
With a modern, fully equipped chassis, the classic ‘Vette needed a worthy engine, but using anything else than a GM V8 was out of the question. Pogea ultimately went for a 6.2-liter LS3 taken from a C6 and beefed it up with LS7 fuel injectors, aggressive camshafts, a high-performance intake, and 45-mm (1.77-inch) Edelbrock exhaust manifolds that were connected to a custom stainless steel exhaust system.
These upgrades helped increase output from 430 hp and 424 lb-ft (575 Nm) of torque to 485 horses and 431 lb-ft (585 Nm). The engine was linked to a 5-speed manual using a ceramic clutch and all that torque reached the rear wheels through a Dana 44 Posi unit.
The body was covered in original Ferrari red and white paint while all its trims were freshly chrome plated. Furthermore, modern lightning tech was integrated into the headlights as well as the custom taillights.
The same red and white theme was employed for the interior. Everything was reupholstered using red leather and suede complemented by white trims. The only noticeable modern feature was an Isotta Vallelunga steering wheel which, in my opinion, wasn’t a very good choice for this awesome build.
Once completed, the modernized Corvette nicknamed Big Red was put to the test and, as expected, it performed far better than it once did. Apart from the sharp handling, it could accelerate to 62 mph (100 kph) from a standstill in 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 179 mph (288 kph).
Revealed in 2012, it remains one of the best first-generation Corvette restomods we ever saw, and the fact that it was created by a team of talented Germans with no prior experience with American cars makes it even more special.
It seems that Mr. Prinz von Anhalt eventually decided to sell the car and today, it is available on various European websites for no less than €290,000 ($329,000).