Matching Numbers. Fascinating Early History and Long-term California Ownership. Restored and Sorted, Excellent Road Manners.
1956 Corvette Dual-Quad Roadster
s/n VE56s003304, Engine no. 5496IIE56GR
Venetian Red with Ivory Coves and Red Interior
The 1950s was a prosperous time of Americans, industry, and innovation. Nowhere was this more evident than in automobile design and manufacturing. With each year, exciting models arrived, and companies expanded on themes of luxury and performance. But in 1953, when the Corvette was launched, there was nothing quite like it. Conceived and built by sports car enthusiasts, the Corvette arrived with great fanfare, but met with lackluster sales. Undaunted, General Motors added more power and greater refinement hoping to win greater sales. In 1956 big improvements came with the V8 engine now a standard offering that nearly double the horsepower of the original Blue Flame Six. Further boosting sales, a power assisted top, removable hardtop, power windows, and signal-seeking “Wonderbar” radio brought new buyers into Chevrolet showrooms eager to try out the newest offering from General Motors, who at that time dominated worldwide sales with an astonishing 70% market share.
In addition to the performance, the Corvette was an important halo car for Chevrolet, offering customers a totally unique driving experience, clothed in a handsome Motorama-inspired design. The Corvette delivered style and performance in an affordable package, capable of competing and besting nearly every European contender. This theme continues today sixty years later in one of the most technologically advanced cars of the century. But it all began when the first V8 engines were tucked into a beautifully sculpted roadster, ready to change the sports car world forever.
This 1956 Corvette is one of 3,467 examples built. Ordered new from the factory, the car was optioned with the dual-quad (twin four-barrel carburetors) intake, mounted on the 265 cu. in. small block V8, and paired with the desirable 3-speed manual transmission. A “Wonderbar” radio and emergency brake warning light was also ordered with the car. The car was sold in New Jersey to the original owner, Mr. Elmer Engstrom, an early pioneer of commercial television development and eventual CEO of RCA. In 1956, Engstrom ordered this Corvette, but shortly thereafter, for reasons unknown, returned it to the dealership after covering just 600 miles. On March 4, 1957 a young Milton W. Green drove his 1950 Oldsmobile to Frank South’s Garage in Princeton, NJ and promptly traded it, plus cash for the nearly new Venetian Red Corvette. A budding professor with a job waiting for him at Stanford University on the other side of the country, Professor Green headed out west in the Corvette, with a trunkful of possessions and graph paper to chart his journey. Along the way, the professor kept track of his miles per gallon, returning a respectable 18.84 mpg as his miles accrued on the 3,000 mile journey from Princeton, NJ to Menlo Park, CA.
Over the years, Professor Milton drove his cherished Corvette to Stanford, continually impressed by the car and its performance, including writing a 1961 letter to GM praising the quality and longevity of the tires on the car. On March 27, 1971, Professor Milton engaged R. Jones on contract to restore the car with a completion date no later than June 1, 1971. As the years advanced, the car saw increasingly less use and eventually the Professor had to refrain from driving it. On March 28, 1990 Professor Milton could no longer safely enjoy the Corvette so he gifted it to his niece Letitia, a resident of Southern California. In 1999, with 56,841 miles showing, Leticia engaged professional Corvette restoration experts at Corvette Specialty of California in Riverside, CA to restore the car to a very high standard. Being mindful of the many original components and parts that had been so properly preserved during her uncle’s ownership, the team worked to preserve important items that were saved and refinished as part of the engine rebuild including the carburetor tags, distributor tag, correct original engine block, heads, dual-quad carburetors, and factory intake manifold.
During the restoration, comprehensive mechanical work included replacing the clutch, new throw out bearings, pilot bearing, and pressure plate. The brake system was completely overhauled, and new soft lines installed. A new heater core, a new speedometer cable, radiator rebuild, new wheel bearings and tires. In addition to the mechanical work, all exterior trim and accessories were carefully removed, and the body shell was repainted and the interior fully reupholstered including new Daytona red carpeting, door panels, seat foam and correct seat material with the distinctive waffle pattern inserts. The rare and original Wonderbar radio was also rebuilt and reinstalled. The soft top frame was also rebuilt, and a new top was installed. Additional work included new shock absorbers, cleaned and prepped fuel tank with new sending unit and connectors, a new exhaust system with new mufflers, and a host of numerous other detailed chrome, rubber, and cosmetic components were all installed. When completed, the bill for restoration was in excess of $30,000.00 documented in the records accompanying the car today. In 2003, the current owner purchased the car from Leticia, making him essentially the third owner of the car since new.
In 2013, under current ownership. the car was extensively serviced by Affordable Classics, Inc. Restorations and Sales, Hawthorne, CA. The car was fully inspected, and all fluids changed, a complete tune up was performed, carburetors were rebuilt, the fuel system comprehensively tended to, the steering box adjusted, and front suspension parts removed, reconditioned, greased, and reinstalled. Wiring and accessory lighting was serviced and replaced as needed, various parts were lubricated, ignition timing reset, heater hoses replaced, a new fuel pump and filter installed, front wheel cylinders replaced, and the battery replaced. At the time the work was performed mileage indicated on the odometer was 58,475 miles.
Today with 58,692 miles showing on the odometer, this Corvette still displays very good cosmetic and mechanical features reflective of the original equipment and professional restoration work combined on the car. Although the restoration has mellowed very nicely over the years, the car exhibits virtually no visible blemishes of note that might detract from an otherwise beautiful presentation. The paint is glossy and consistent, having been skillfully applied in correct colors. The body exhibits fit and finish consistent with GM factory molded fiberglass doors, hood, and trunk with the bottom edges of the doors appearing slightly proud of the body surface. The hinged convertible top cover, often difficult to adjust, fits quite well. The non-functional fender vents, bumper exit exhaust, and recessed taillights deliver vintage Motorama touches to the curvaceous exterior. The chrome trim, badges, and various exterior elements are wonderfully finished, showing a fine luster and very nice chrome quality. The wheels are nicely trimmed with correct original type wheel covers over properly painted Venetian Red steel wheels. The tires are excellent vintage type Coker modern wide whitewalls with good tread remaining. The glass, lights, and lenses are all in excellent condition including the complex curved windshield, which, at the time of production, was one of the most advanced pieces of automotive glass ever produced. The exterior presentation overall is nicely balanced and refined, particularly finished in these classic colors. Of particular note is the set of updated black and yellow California license plates, which replaced the original series plates that still accompany the car.
Inside, the car continues to impress with an interior that has been faithfully restored to original specifications using materials from top name vendors. Even though the interior refurbishment was done twenty years ago, the materials and finishes remain in excellent condition showing little to no wear from use. The waffle pattern seat and door inserts are correct and properly fit to the panels. The seat foam is still very resilient and the carpeting, while lightly toned in the driver’s footwell, remains in very nice condition throughout the remaining interior. The instruments are colorful and highly detailed with just a little bit of pitting appearing on what could very well be the original center binnacle chrome surround. The Wonderbar radio functions properly and the optional emergency brake light also illuminates when the brake is on, as a reminder to disengage it when driving. The top is in excellent condition both inside and out, wrapped tightly over a rebuilt set of top bows. Although the car has a complete power top system in place, the mechanism has been disconnected.
Under the hood, the restoration details and attention to accuracy continues. While some of the fasteners and various hardware deviate slightly from typical factory specifications, the overall presentation is very authentic and properly finished. The prominent feature of the engine is the rare dual-quad carburetor set up. Topping the factory intake manifold, the carburetors display their original factory tags, and the cast bodies are correctly finished, matching the softened metal finish of the finned valve covers. Other details include a correct windshield washer bag, correct accordion hose air duct, an original generator, chrome plated air cleaners, and a chrome plated distributor and wiring shroud. Underneath the car, the suspension, driveline components, exhaust, solid rear axle and limiting straps all appear correct, displaying tidy though not show level finishes. As one might expect from a car with known ownership since new, there is no evidence of any structural compromise to the frame, underbody components, or suspension attachment points.
The car starts easily and settles into a smooth idle, burbling just a hint of more performance with the factory dual-quad set up. Though not driven much in recent years, the car has an authentic and capable feel to it due to the attention previously given to the suspension and brakes. The car shifts smoothly and engages the V8 engine with authority. The 3-speed manual is nicely balanced with the 265 engine particularly in 2nd gear when the broad powerband pulls the car up quickly and a second surge comes on as the dual-quads deliver on their promise of 15 more horsepower than the standard 265. When enjoying cruising speeds, the car is smooth and evenly tracking with surprisingly good ride comfort and pleasing cornering when pressed into service.
The car is accompanied by the original 1956 New Jersey as well as CA black and yellow license plates, misc parts believed to be original to the car and retained during the restoration, a car cover, original documentation from the second long-term owner including the 1957 bill of sale, hand-written notes, letters to and from GM about the car, invoices documenting the 1999 restoration, and more recent service invoices for general maintenance performed on the car.
With fascinating early history and documented long term California ownership, this beautifully restored Corvette is ready for any event or show. Presented with documentation supporting essentially three family owners since new, this factory dual-quad example of America’s first sports car is an historically important Corvette ready to treat the next fortunate owner to the thrills of V8 performance and nostalgia.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608