How PininFarina Turned the C2 Chevrolet Corvette Into A True Blue European Sports Car - SUV VEHICLE

How PininFarina Turned the C2 Chevrolet Corvette Into A True Blue European Sports Car

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Summary

  • The Rondine concept by Pininfarina transformed the C2 Corvette with a sleek, elegant design at the 1963 Paris Motor Show.
  • Chevrolet partnered with Pininfarina to elevate the Corvette’s aesthetic appeal and prove it could compete with European designs.
  • The Rondine features a steel body with a strong stock powertrain, retaining the interior of the original C2 Corvette.



More than 50 years of rich heritage behind the Chevrolet Corvette has garnered attention from many other companies. Although it already has a sleek design, many coach builders have not capitalized off of this. During the 1960s, many coach builders would take cars from the showroom floor and completely rebody them. While it is a surprise there are no more re-bodied versions, one company took on the challenge, Pininfarina.

The fabulous design concept is the Rondine concept by Pininfarina, which made its debut at the 1963 Paris Motor Show. Chevrolet commissioned the concept, which was built on the C2 Corvette chassis of the same model year. The company reached out to Pininfarina to tailor a new suit for the second-gen model and reimagine what a Corvette could be.


A predominant theme of the Rondine is its visually lighter appearance compared to the factory C2, characterized by flowing bodywork extended at both ends. The Corvette shape is still visible, but with a more elegant approach. All the attention goes to the redesigned exterior, while the interior and powerplant are left stock. Throughout this journey, we will dive into all the details of the Rondine concept by Pininfarina and show why it is an important piece of Chevrolet’s history.

In order to give you the most up-to-date and accurate information possible, the data used to compile this article was sourced from various manufacturer websites and other authoritative sources, including Chevrolet, Barrett Jackson, and Pininfarina.

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Forgotten 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rondine Concept


The Rondine concept by Pininfarina stands out as a unique collaboration between Chevrolet and the esteemed Italian design house. Commissioned by Chevrolet for the second-generation C2 Corvette, the Rondine aimed to infuse European elegance into the American muscle car DNA. Crafted by Tom Tjaarda at Pininfarina’s Turin-based studio, the design retained unmistakable Corvette characteristics while incorporating distinctive Pininfarina elements, resulting in a harmonious blend of American power and Italian style.

Notably, the Rondine showcased a visually lighter aesthetic compared to the factory C2 Corvette, showing off flowing bodywork. While maintaining the iconic Sting Ray shape, Tjaarda’s design introduced more liberal proportions and softer lines, adding an air of sophistication to the Corvette’s muscular stance. With its hidden headlights, subtle grille modifications, and refined rear profile, the Rondine exuded a timeless elegance that set it apart as a Corvette with a distinctly Italian flair.


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Chevrolet Commissioned Concept From Pininfarina

Chevrolet Corvette Rondine Concept Rear in Black and White
Chevrolet

Chevrolet’s decision to commission the Rondine concept from Pininfarina stemmed from a strategic initiative to demonstrate the Corvette’s ability to compete with European designs on their own turf. By partnering with Pininfarina, a renowned Italian design house synonymous with automotive elegance, Chevrolet wanted to elevate the Corvette’s aesthetic appeal and build on the already beautiful design.


The collaboration with Pininfarina not only showcased Chevrolet’s willingness to embrace European design influences but also served as a statement of confidence in the Corvette’s performance and engineering history. The Rondine concept effectively acted as a proof of concept, demonstrating that the Corvette could hold its own among the prestigious and visually captivating European sports cars of the era. Through this partnership, Chevrolet showed off its commitment to innovation and its desire to position the Corvette as a global contender in the fiercely competitive sports car market.

Unveiled At The 1963 Paris Motor Show

The unveiling of the Chevrolet Rondine concept at the 1963 Paris Motor Show marked a significant moment for both Chevrolet and the automotive industry as a whole. The decision to debut the concept in Paris, a hub of automotive innovation and style, showcased Chevrolet’s desire to show the Corvette as more than just a race car. As a symbol of collaboration between American engineering and Italian design, the Rondine concept served as a powerful promotional tool for the C2 Corvette, highlighting its potential to appeal to discerning European buyers.


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Pininfarina Penned Other Beautiful Vehicles

Yellow Fiat 124 Spider 1969 convertible with roof down - front view
Fiat

The company was founded by Battista “Pinin” Farina. Throughout the 1920s, Battista worked on and drove innovative designs at his brother’s shop to feed his passion for fast and beautiful automobiles. Battista won the 1921 “Aosta-Gran San Bernardo” race in his own car, setting a track record that went unbroken for 11 years. At these races, Battista met an up-and-coming carmaker, Enzo Ferrari. In 1930, Battista founded “Carrozzeria Pinin Farina,” putting his stamp on the automotive industry. Before long, his company was producing 7–8 cars a day. In the 1930s, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina established relationships with GM and Renault and earned international acclaim.


Famous Pininfarina Designs

Other than the Rondine concept that we have been highlighting, Pininfarina has a long-standing history of sculpting some of the most beautiful cars in the world. One of the main designers, Tom Tjaarda, was responsible for the Lancia Flaminia Coupe and, coincidentally, the Fiat 124 Spider. He even penned the Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 and the sleek 365 California Spyder. Later, he went on to design the cult classic De Tomaso Pantera, and even the four-door version of the Saab 900. Tjaarda had a resume of designing over 80 cars, but sadly passed away in June 2017 at the age of 82.

Steel Body Design With Stock Powertrain

Blue 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rondine
Pinterest @Antonio S. Río Vázquez


The Chevrolet Rondine concept stands out not only for its captivating design but also for its remarkable durability, utilizing a steel body rather than the typical fiberglass construction found in most concept cars. Despite its status as a concept, the Rondine retained its original interior, borrowing from the stock C2 Corvette.

Wrapped in luxurious white leather, the interior exudes sophistication, with its large round speedometer and tachometer front and center on the iconic double hump dashboard. The seamless integration of the stock interior with the innovative design of the Rondine exterior shows Chevrolet’s commitment to creating a concept car that not only captured attention, but also remained true to the essence of the iconic Corvette.


Underneath its striking exterior, the Rondine kept its performance credentials that rivaled the best sports cars of its time. Equipped with a 5.4-liter V8 engine, the Rondine delivered an impressive 360 horsepower and 360 ft-lbs of torque. The powerplant, known as the ‘fuelie’, was mated to a four-speed manual transmission, giving the Rondine brisk acceleration and precise gear shifts. With a swift 60 mph time of 5.8 seconds and a quarter-mile sprint completed in 14.5 seconds, the Rondine was not just a show car. Beyond its striking exterior, the Rondine offered a thrilling driving experience, reaching a top speed of 130 miles per hour, cementing its status as a true blue European sports car competitor.

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Existed At Pininfarina Museum Until It Was Sold At Barrett Jackson

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Rondine front 3/4 shot
Barret Jackson


The Chevrolet Rondine concept held a profound significance for Pininfarina, as it showed the collaborative partnership between the Italian design house and Chevrolet. Following its debut at the Paris Motor Show, Pininfarina recognized the exceptional nature of the Rondine and opted to preserve it for posterity, housing it within their museum in Turin, Italy. As one of the inaugural designs for Tom Tjaarda, the Rondine holds a special place in automotive history, symbolizing the convergence of American engineering and Italian design expertise.

Despite Chevrolet’s decision not to proceed with production, Pininfarina believed that the Rondine deserved to be cherished and protected within their esteemed collection. For over four decades, the Rondine remained under the spotlight of Pininfarina, serving as an example of their dedication to preserving automotive artistry. However, in 2008, the car emerged from its long-term sanctuary, captivating enthusiasts once again as it went under the hammer at Barrett Jackson Scottsdale, marking a significant moment in the Rondine’s journey.


Sold at Barrett Jackson Scottsdale In 2008 For $1.76 million

In what was seemingly a random occurrence, Pininfarina decided to offer the Rondine for sale in Scottsdale, Arizona at a Barrett Jackson auction. Recognized as one of the rarest Chevrolet Corvettes, coveted by many but owned by only one, anticipation surrounded the auction as enthusiasts pondered the final sale price. The 1963 Corvette Rondine made headlines when it fetched a staggering $1.76 million on a no-reserve lot. Despite its unique status, the Rondine joined the ranks of the ten most expensive Chevrolet Corvettes ever sold at auction, affirming its esteemed place in automotive history.

Today, while its value is expected to have soared even higher, the Rondine remains a rare sight, making occasional appearances at prestigious events such as the Greenwich Concours on the East Coast. Yet, lingering questions persist for Chevrolet and Pininfarina regarding the Rondine. Why did Chevrolet not produce the Rondine, even in limited numbers? Why did Pininfarina decide to part with it after decades of careful preservation? The allure of the 1963 Corvette Rondine continues to grow as the next change of ownership could bring new light to the incredible concept car.


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