Corvette of Steel: The Pininfarina “Rondine”
There are two commonly held facts about Corvettes: First, that they have always had bodies made of fiberglass or composite material, and second, that the 1963 Split Window is the most beautiful car ever made. The one of a kind Pininfarina Rondine (pronounced “ron-di-nay” no doubt while holding a teacup with pinky finger extended) challenges both of those ideas.
Built as a design study for the 1963 Paris Auto Show, the Rondine’s steel body panels were the work of designer Tom Tjaarda, an American in the employ of Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina. Some of the other shapes to flow from his gifted pen are the DeTomaso Pantera, Fiat 124, and Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Compared to the iconic Split Window, the Rondine has a far airier cockpit with a wraparound rear window, and a profile that clearly shows European design influence.
The legendary Zora Arkus-Duntov is said to have admitted, “For the first time I can now have a Corvette to be proud to drive in Europe.” Whether that’s true or not is debatable – Arkus-Duntov’s love for the C2’s styling is not in question – but this one of a kind Corvette is undoubtedly as beautiful as it is valuable.
And how valuable is that? According to The Province, when this car changed hands in January 2008 at Barrett-Jackson, it carried a $1.76 million dollar price tag. Is that a fair sticker price for a car that spent 40 years in Pininfarina’s company museum?