The SEMA Show is a great event to attend if you’re into tuning and aftermarket accessories, but it’s usually populated by modern cars. If you’re into classics, you may find a few cool restomods to drool over, but chances are you won’t see stock vintage automobiles on the SEMA floor.
You may, however, encounter a few in the parking lot. The car you see here is not a factory-built classic, but it’s also the kind you won’t usually see at SEMA: a vintage dragster! Spotted by “Hot Rod Hoarder” in the eBay Motors Tour area, this 1958 Chevrolet Corvette is a fabulous piece of drag racing history.
The rather brief info sheet that comes with it says it’s a gasser, but the description might not be accurate. Because even though it has the stance of a gasser, it doesn’t have a roof or a windshield. But it’s a legit dragster that probably ran in a different class back in the day. I’m guessing this car ran the quarter-mile sometime in the 1960s based on the way it looks.
Impressively enough, it’s also highly original. Yeah, it doesn’t have a livery, which is a bit strange, but the paint appears to be original. It’s been polished to an impressive shine, but it still shows a few rough spots and battle scars. The tires, while period correct, appear to be new.
Unfortunately, the cockpit is covered, and we can’t see all the cool racing gear that’s inside. The same goes for the hood, but our host says it hides a 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) Chevrolet V8 of the small-block variety with a Hilborn mechanical fuel injection.
The mill is most likely of the custom-built variety since Chevrolet did not offer a 302 V8 in 1958. The C2 wasn’t available with that displacement either since most Chevy small-blocks came in at 283 and 327 cubic inches (4.6 and 5.4 liters) in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
So what’s this Corvette dragster doing here? Well, since it’s in the eBay Motors display, it’s most likely part of the website’s Parts of America initiative, which is described as a “cross-country tour to explore America’s unique car cultures.”
The tour started on September 21, 2022, at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, and joined seven other automotive events until it hit the SEMA Show on November 1. The tour will continue in Arizona and California before it comes to a halt in Los Angeles on November 17.
Anyway, this 1958 Corvette is by far the coolest vintage dragster I’ve seen in a very long time, and I’d definitely like to see it run at some point. Not only do I need to hear that race-spec V8 purr, but I also bet this Corvette could pull a few cool wheelie stunts when it takes off the line. Until that happens, watch it sitting pretty in the video below.