David Borroughs, one of the show’s founders, came up with the idea of evaluating authenticity. Experts compared each car with its condition when it left the factory. A car could earn Gold Certification by being 95 percent or more original.
Authenticity does not equal perfection. Remember, the history of the Corvette spans a time when all American cars had quality problems. But there are few opportunities in life to go back and correct errors, as many customizers do with cars. So Bloomington Gold Corvettes U.S.A., the name adopted in 1984, has been dedicated to preserving historical accuracy.
The lowest level of authenticity is a good-natured category for vehicles 30 years old or more that have aged to the point where their usefulness as historical reference is gone. The award is called Forget It. Restore It.
Freeze Frame cars are early models, 1969 and older, that have been altered or refinished since new. The class includes race cars, styling cars, engineering prototypes and others that have been preserved to a historically significant point in time.
Finger Print awards are for cars at least 30 years old, with outstanding preservation. Any refinishing or deterioration cannot exceed 25 percent from factory new in all areas: exterior, interior, under hood and chassis.
ZZenith Award winners must be at least 40 years old. They must have nearly new appearance and condition, with refinishing, damage repair or deterioration of less than 10 percent from factory new.
Judging is done by teams of experts with years of experience working with, maintaining and restoring special collectible and classic cars.
This year’s event, held at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill., featured featured 60 of the rarest, most valuable and historically significant Corvettes ever made. In addition to the 1953 EX122, the collection showcased the original 1960 Stingray Racer and the 206 mph Chevrolet Experimental Racing Vehicle (CERV), hand built by Zora Duntov, the GM engineer credited with being father of the Corvette. Roger Penske’s Grand Sport #001 (valued in the millions) was there along with a 1969 ZL1 Corvette, the only one known to exist, considered one of the most valuable Corvettes in the world. There were 55 more unique and special cars, most original, historical Corvettes.
Cars lined the fairways at the resort, as thousands of enthusiasts jammed the grounds to see the cars, watch or participate in the auction, see the special exhibitions and bask in the glory that is and was the Chevrolet Corvette.