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Classic car auction: GM's Dan Akerson cuts loose his '58 Corvette

November 20, 2012|By Amy Hubbard
  • The 1958 Corvette of GM's chief executive will be auctioned in early January to help fund the transformation of a Detroit neighborhood through Habitat for Humanity.
The 1958 Corvette of GM's chief executive will be auctioned in early… (General Motors )

GM Chairman Dan Akerson loves this car — his hardtop-convertible "regal turquoise" '58 Corvette with dual headlamps and twin chrome trunk spears.

But he's giving it all up — to help Habitat for Humanity and Detroit.

That car represents "pure American ingenuity and creativity" for Akerson, who states simply in a news release: "I love the car." But he has decided it is "better purposed" elsewhere. The car will go to the highest bidder in a Jan. 18 auction.   The money will go toward rehabilitating a section of Detroit's troubled east side.

In February, Akerson and his wife, Karin, made the largest-ever gift to the Detroit affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. The organization's director of development, Tara Franey, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that the Akersons "provided the $1-million cornerstone gift" to kick off the Leaders to ReBuild Detroit initiative.

That $25-million, three-year initiative, Franey said, will help at least 500 families in the MorningSide Community. Homes will be built and repaired, and abandoned homes will be demolished. Proceeds from the auction of Akerson's Corvette will go toward the $25-million goal.

Detroit's east side is a tough area. In March, U.S. Atty. Barbara McQuade announced a federal crackdown on the entire east side, where there was a 75% jump in homicides from 2010 to 2011. "We mean this," Robert Corso, head of the Detroit DEA office, told the Detroit News. He called the campaign a "personal vendetta."

For Akerson, donating his sleek '58 Corvette to the cause isn't an entirely unselfish act.  The MorningSide neighborhood is just east of GM's Renaissance Center world headquarters in downtown Detroit. An investment in the neighborhood won't hurt business.

Still, here's what he's giving up, according to a GM announcement:

"The 1958 Corvette featured a 245-horsepower V-8 and included new body and instrument panels and new upholstery.  External highlights included dual headlamps — a Corvette first — and twin chrome trunk spears. Chevrolet built 9,168 Corvettes for the 1958 model year, but only 510, or just over 5%, were painted Regal Turquoise. Akerson’s Corvette is a hardtop convertible and is considered scarce among remaining 1958 models."

Vincent Tilford, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Detroit, said in a news release: "The fact that Dan is giving up a car that I know must mean an awful lot to him is very humbling."

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