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Not a Knockoff: Chinese Automaker Creates 1958 Corvette C1 Clone PHEV

What’s old is new again, and so the cycle continues. Cars with pastel colors and two-tone designs were all the rage in 1950’s America. Of course, the trend hasn’t come back full circle, with automakers instead opting for sleek, sophisticated designs. However, interest in classic cars, particularly Americana nostalgia, is at an all-time high, as evidenced by the Songsan SS Dolphin – a 1958 Corvette C1 clone.

No, this throwback to a long-passed era isn’t a simple knockoff of Chevrolet’s 1958 Corvette C1. It’s proof of what happens when you combine classic good looks with cutting-edge innovation.

Songsan Motors, a Chinese auto manufacturer, took inspiration from the design of one of the most iconic vehicles in automotive history. However, most of the similarity ends there. The SS Dolphin, which debuted at the Beijing Auto Show, is a plug-in hybrid two-door convertible.

So, how does the Songsan SS Dolphin differ from the 1958 Corvette C1, and what did Chevrolet have to say about the homage to its iconic car?

An off-brand 1958 Corvette C1 clone offers surprising innovation

The Songsan SS Dolphin isn’t a mirror image of the original Chevy sports car. The 1958 Corvette C1 is more refined and utilizes timeless materials. Meanwhile, the Songsan SS Dolphin has a rounder silhouette and some different exterior proportions. Plus, it lacks the iconic 

‘checkered-flag’ emblem on the hood. The Chinese Corvette C1 clone also displays more of a matte finish rather than the original’s glossy shine, which may be offputting to some classic car aficionados.

According to Carscoops, the Songsan SS Dolphin is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine and an electric motor. This powertrain is expected to have a fully electric range between 56-62 miles, and it rockets from 0-62 MPH in just 4.9 seconds. In comparison, the original 1958 Corvette C1 accelerated from 0-60 MPH in 7.6 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

Meanwhile, the Songsan SS Dolphin comes with modern touches that never graced the interior of the 1958 Corvette C1. The focal point is its ‘floating’ infotainment system, which houses apps and in-car controls. Plus, it comes with a digital instrument cluster and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Chevrolet’s surprising response to the SS Dolphin

A light blue 1958 Chevrolet Corvette C1 displayed at an auto show. Two other classic cars are pictured to the right of it.
The 1958 Chevrolet Corvette C1 (pictured on the left) at an auto show | Photo by David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

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Chevy is a brand built on heritage, and early models like the 1958 Corvette C1 played a significant factor in building the company’s legacy. Chevrolet first produced the Corvette C1 for the 1953 model year, but the 1958 iteration featured a new body style that still captures car enthusiasts’ hearts.

However, it wasn’t overly concerned with the past when the company was asked about the Corvette C1 clone.

Chevrolet senior manager of cars and crossovers Kevin Kelly told Carscoops, “They are not using any of our trademarked names or logos, and the design is not identical to the C1.”

Notably, Songsan Motors did not ask Chevy for permission to use any sort of likeness of the 1958 Corvette C1. However, it is unlikely that Chevrolet will pursue any future lawsuits against the Chinese auto manufacturer.

A bygone era lives on

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Unfortunately, buying a Chinese Corvette C1 clone won’t be a cheaper way to drive a piece of Americana. According to Business Insider, the Songsan SS Dolphin comes with a hefty price tag – an equivalent of $159,900.

Only time will tell if vintage ’50s style comes back into vogue for mainstream production or remains a niche, one-shot product.