From time to time, a model crosses our desk to which we can only respond, "Wow!" In 2006, Danbury Mint decided to up the ante in the 1:12 scale collectors market with the release of their 1957 Corvette convertible "Fuelie", equipped with jet black paintwork, silver fender coves, brilliant red interior, and a virtual galaxy of fully operating features. Before elaborating on the historical significance of the full-scale '57 'Vette, let's just run down the list of what this incredible model does.
It features opening doors, hood, trunk and tonneau, removable engine oil dipstick, opening gas filler, steerable front wheels, working suspension, driveshaft, radiator fan and generator pulley all move when rear wheels are rotated, removable oil filter, crank-operated windows, opening center storage bin, adjustable mirrors and seats, independent, spring-loaded windscreen wipers, movable gear lever, opening cowl vent, operational cloth convertible top, removable hard top, and removable wheels. The three-piece radio antenna telescopes just like the real thing, while the trunk is equipped with a vinyl mat, spare tire cover, whitewall tire, and emergency jack with all its hardware. The spare tire cover even has a jacking instruction label, along with a warning sticker referring to the 'Vette's limited slip differential. Does your head hurt yet? Hold on, we're just getting started!
The real magic begins when the three AAA batteries (included) are placed in their compartment beneath the folded convertible top and tonneau deck. Just to the steering wheel's right resides the ignition key. Press it in, and the Master Switch is now 'on'. Press the silver button to the steering wheel's left, and the headlights, taillights and instruments illuminate. Open either door to activate the under-dash courtesy lights, while a gentle push on the brake pedal appreciably brightens taillight illumination. Press the floor mounted switch to the clutch pedal's left, and Voila!, high beams! Flick the turn signal lever up or down and, you guessed it, the front turn indicators and taillights blink. This feature also works when the headlights are off.
Rather than risking the possibility of handling damage to this pristine, new-in-the-box model, we opted not to insert the batteries and manipulate all the switchgear. We also chose not to remove the protective plastic film that covers the photo etched script on the trunk and side coves, and the windscreen wipers. To view a video that illustrates the lighting functions of this model, simply visit YouTube, and type in 'Danbury Mint Corvette', where you will find a 1956 version of the model, which operates exactly like the '57.
1957 was a landmark year in the development of the Corvette. Chevrolet, in an effort to boost the previous model's somewhat anemic performance, enlisted the help of a team of engineers, including legendary Corvette guru Zora Arkus-Duntov. By adding Rochester 'Ramjet' fuel injection, boring out the engine to 283 cu. in., and employing a four-speed gearbox, the team was able to create a nearly 300 horsepower enthusiast's machine. A host of factory performance upgrades made the new 'Vette a race-ready sportscar right out of the box, and many were successfully campaigned. This increase in performance in addition to low production numbers make the '57 one of the most highly prized Corvettes among collectors today.
The incredible number of working features and meticulous attention to detail has propelled the Danbury Mint '57 Corvette onto the short list of 'must-haves' for model collectors as well. Sadly, Danbury Mint are no longer producing automobile models in any scale, which makes our Corvette all the more rare and desirable. Our example is #166 in the production run, and is supplied with all factory original accessories, wood display base, and all original packing and boxes. Absolutely mint/new in box, and an incredible find!