Have you ever been to Detroit? Many people tend to have an unfavorable view of the city. It’s the pre-eminent symbol of American urban decay caused by hubris, corrupt politicians, and institutionalized racism. But that doesn’t give us the right to deride this once-proud city (especially you, residents of Gary and Newark!) I, for one, lived there for three years 10 years ago and I can tell you the cultures and subcultures that are uniquely Detroit make it a distinct place that doesn’t play second fiddle to Chicago.
And if you’ve never have been to Detroit, I might as well point out the Chrysler’s Super Bowl spot two championships ago that captured the essence of what it means to be from Detroit. Yep, Detroit is a rough diamond, which is why the news of GM’s CEO excites me: he and his wife are going to donate their 1958 Corvette to help a Detroit neighborhood.
Detroit was in its prime in 1958, a city with all the amenities that one could ask for: a train station designed by the same guy who did New York’s Grand Central Station, a huge Hudson’s department store, and glorious mansions along Lake Shore Drive. After all, American cars were envied the world over for their style. In particular, the ’58 Corvette received a facelift from its 1956-57 iteration, which was quite remarkable for a car that almost was rendered to the rubbish bin a few years before.
New were quad headlights, a louvered hood, and flush taillights; in a nod to the times, the use of chrome was more liberal than before, with twin spears that ran the top of the front fenders and trunklid. Inside, a much-improved dashboard grouped all the gauges in front of the driver. Under the hood was even more horsepower from the little 283, with the base motor bumped up 10 horses to 230. Any optional motor involved multiple carburetion or fuel injection, with the top Fuelie motor being rated at 290 horsepower, an improvement of seven from 1957’s landmark “one horsepower per cubic inch.”
Dan and Karin Akerson are auctioning off their ’58 for Habitat for Humanity Detroit, and the proceeds will benefit the Morningside Commons area. It was on display in this past weekend’s Woodward Dream Cruise at the Birmingham Triangle along with 200 other Corvettes. The Akersons’ Vette is Regal Turquoise with the 283/245, of which 2,436 were built out of 9,168 for the model year. For more details on this car and the auction, visit Facebook.com/Corvette.