Old car buffs know that 1958 was a very significant year for the automotive industry, and General Motors was not to be left out. Design changes were made across the board, and the Corvette was certainly not forgotten.
The “New” 1958 Corvette interior featured a modern aircraft inspired cockpit appearance. Rounded recess instrument cluster on the left, and matching recess on the right. The passenger side featured a padded vinyl covered “grab bar” backed by a beautiful recessed insert with “CORVETTE” lettering. This Corvette dash insert consisted of a thin, curved, concave aluminum plate. There was a beautiful horizontal grain with the recessed CORVETTE letters finished in white. The insert had bright stainless mouldings top and bottom. This entire assembly was assembled in a stamped steel housing. The stainless mouldings captured the aluminum insert and were welded in the back to the housing. Very extravagant, as many items were in the 50’s. Compare this part to plastic and cheaply made interior parts in subsequent years!
Corvette Dash Inserts between 1959-1960 to the 1970’s
In 1959, the dash insert had a minor change. The lettering was changed to black. 1959 also added a package, or map tray in the recessed area. The tray clearly became a “catch all”. The victim of the package tray was the dash insert. Remember, we mentioned the beautiful brushed aluminum center piece? Well, that part is extremely fragile and the slightest bump from an object tossed into the package tray would damage the insert.
1960 brought the last change to the 1958-1962 dash inserts. The black lettering remained. Chevrolet styling added a small red and blue rectangular ornament above and below the “CORVETTE” lettering. This design remained throughout the remainder of the C1 production.
Remember, these cars were daily drivers for owners back in the day and were treated that way!
Turn the page to the 70’s and owners were restoring these cars. The dash insert had been discontinued from service and chances of finding a nice original were slim to none. Two alternatives developed in the late 1970’s. An excellent reproduction of the aluminum insert became available. To install the insert required a high level of skill and patience. Many times, a second or third attempt was required due to damage. The inserts are very fragile. Additionally, there was a very clever and innovative enthusiast named Charlie Dhyse from Maryland that engineered the entire insert, ready to install. The part was absolutely beautiful. Charlie made a limited run and as I recall, the retail price was 165.00. This was a lot of money for the part at this time, and sales were not very good. They sold out and that was the end of the complete insert.
We Carry and Manufacture Quality C1 Corvette Parts
Our sister company, Corvette Specialties of MD West restores gauges etc for Vintage Corvettes. Services included restoration of dash inserts using the reproduction aluminum insert in the customers existing unit. In addition to the expense, many units that were sent for restoration had additional damage to the stainless, or poor attempts to restore by inexperienced workers.
There was a need for a complete dash insert and Corvette Specialties Manufacturing was up to the task. Production of this part required licensing from the GM Restoration Parts program as the trademark “CORVETTE” was being used. Approval was obtained.
Development of this new project, from scratch, required nearly 4 years from start to finish. Samples upon samples were submitted by the manufacturer. We rejected many until we were satisfied. In addition, Corvette Specialties Manufacturing also sends pre production samples to various experts in the particular years for the parts that are in process. Jeff Reade of American Motoring Memories in Culver City, California, a respected authority in 1958-1962 Corvettes consulted with us in this endeavor.
Our 1958-1962 dash inserts have become a favorite for the restorer and owners of these cars. We recently ran these parts again as our inventory had depleted.
As with all of our products, you can be assured that we uphold the highest standards for our line of exclusive reproduction parts and will continue to do so in the future. Below are some pictures of the three varieties, and components: