CARLISLE, Pa. – Looking back 50 years, 1965 certainly was one for the history books, especially in the automotive world. The New York World’s Fair was held from 1964 to 1965 and showcased America’s culture and technology, with vehicles also on display. If not for that fair, guests of Corvettes at Carlisle wouldn’t be seeing two rare pieces of Corvette history, a 1965 fully functional cut-away Corvette chassis with the 327-cid fuel injection engine and its equally transparent and operational 396-cid “big block” cut-away engine.
This year’s show runs Aug. 28-30 at the Carlisle Fairgrounds and one of the star attractions is a 50-year reunion of the 1965 Corvette. In conjunction with that display, Carlisle Events will welcome Ken Kayser and Curt Simlik, owners of the engine and chassis.
GM’s Futurama pavilion at the New York World’s Fair showcased its new ’65 models, which included a full cut-away ’65 Corvette. In the spring, GM added a full cut-away Corvette 396 engine. GM always had two identical and completely inter-changeable displays at all major shows so that touch up and maintenance could be done without having an “empty” display.
After the fair closed in late 1965, all of the display’s twin sets of components were sent back to Detroit for storage. In 1967, one of the Corvettes and its big-block engine mate were sent to a GM Motorama show in South Africa. Instead of returning the GM South Africa display to Detroit, GM donated them to an engineering college where they eventually became dated and, for lack of interest, went into storage and were forgotten.
In the late ’90s, the long-lost South Africa displays were rediscovered and returned to Orlando, Fla., by an un-named person who learned of the college’s no further interest in it. The Corvette was still complete, but the engine was apart in a crate and needed some TLC. The mystery owner displayed only the Corvette car at an NCRS Disney show in January 2000, where it was then sold and purchased by enthusiast Al Wiseman. In addition, Wiseman received the cut-a-way 396 engine as a bonus.
GM also donated the “spare back-up” full Corvette cut-away to Ferris State University in Michigan, where it was discovered and acquired by Curt Simlik, unfortunately without the hovering Corvette body. Wiseman sold his Corvette display in 2007, but retained the Corvette 396 engine and after a futile attempt at restoration, eventually gave up. In 2011, Kayser was speaking at a national Corvette event in Michigan where he met Simlik and learned of his cut-away chassis from Ferris State. Kayser then called Wiseman and learned of the 396 engine. It was the same engine that Kayser’s dad had been acquainted with almost 45 years earlier while he was a spokesman for the new Chevrolet big-block engine at the world’s fair. Wiseman happily sold the engine to Kayser who began the restoration project of a lifetime.
Kayser will now join his historic 396 engine with Simlik’s historic “twin cut-away Corvette” to create this unique display at Carlisle. For more event details, visit http://carlisleevents.com.