Don Yenko is best known for his late-1960s antics of stuffing 427-cubic-inch big-blocks into Camaros, but before he was putting muscle cars in the 11s on the dragstrip he was SCCA racing and needed something to get him to the front of the pack. Enter the Corvair Corsa.
Yenko, a Pennsylvania car dealer in his early 30s, is famously quoted as saying he was “tired of staring at Mark Donohue’s Mustang,” which led him to follow the template another famous last name—Shelby—had started. Using dealership connections, Yenko set about creating a Chevrolet just for road racing.
When looking through the lineup for a 1965 model to base his road racer on, Yenko skipped over the Corvette. It had grown heavy by comparison to the competition. And the rear-engine Corvair had a 500-pound weight advantage. Yenko didn’t get approval to run his Corvair in SCCA racing until November 1965. That put him in a rush to qualify for D-production racing, as 100 of the newly-branded Corvair Stingers would need to be produced by January 1966 in order to meet the rule requirements.
One of those original 100 cars, YS-074, is set to cross the block at Mecum on January 11. Stingers were sold in four variations, mainly differentiated by the power levels from the Yenko tuned flat-six. The car up for bid is a Stage III version, which was advertised at 220 horsepower—a significant number for the 2100-pound car, even if the Yenko dynos and figures have been known to be generous.
Mecum estimates that the car will sell for $65,000–$100,000. Hagerty vehicle data specialist Greg Ingold leaned more on the lower end of the range, with an estimate of $70,000–$80,000. A #1-condition (Concours-quality) Stinger currently tops out at $67,500, but the values have not moved in quite some time. Comparably, a standard Corvair Corsa holds a #1 value of $23,100.
According to a Yenko Stinger enthusiast and the car’s former owner, who shared his time with the car on a Corvair Forum, YS-074 was originally sold in Kansas and is an original Stage III. While a few additions have been made beyond its as delivered state, the fact that it’s a true Stage III car makes it one of fewer than 10 Stage III cars around, which should be reflected in the final hammer price.