8 exceptional Corvettes up for auction this January
We do not bring you this ensemble of soon-to-be-auctioned Corvettes simply because they’re red, white, and awesome. (Though they are.) True, this January’s run lists include trackside veterans that have represented Chevrolet on the world stage, not to mention an L89 convertible that belonged to a famous astronaut, but Corvettes taken together are a force to be reckoned with in the collector market. Corvettes, and in particular the 1963 through ’67 years, account for more dollars sold at car auctions than any other model. For context: A single Ferrari 250 GTO might sell for $48.4M, but sales of all ’63 through ’67 Vettes would together surpass that.
There are many interesting and genuinely special Vettes up for auction this January, split between auctions in Kissimmee, Florida, and the greater Scottsdale area in Arizona. These include Benchmark-certified split-window Z06s and an experimental C4 suspension prototype, plus a slew of other fascinating race cars. We focused, however, on the specific cars that you aren’t likely to see again any time soon. Without further ado, here are eight extraordinary Corvettes to whet your appetite for historic fiberglass.
1990 Chevrolet Corvette SCCA Escort World Challenge Race Car
Mecum, Lot T266
John Henricy did more than preside over the Corvette Development Group at GM’s proving grounds, or merely serve as Corvette assistant chief engineer. He got behind the wheel, too, helping to build Corvettes’ motorsports prowess nearly a decade before the Pratt & Miller factory-backed team emerged in 1999. Henricy campaigned this C4 in the 1990 SCCA Escort World Challenge Series for the Mobil 1-sponsored Morrison Motorsports. That name is likely a familiar one to Vette aficionados: The same year that Henricy was campaigning this C4 in World Challenge’s first sprint-race season, Tommy Morrison and his team set the 24-hour world speed endurance record in a stock ZR-1 with an average of 175.885 mph, breaking the 160.18-mph figure that had stood for nearly 50 years.
Henricy and Morrison have both since been entered into the Corvette Hall of Fame, and this C4 has received equally prestigious honors: It participated in the 2013 Monterey Historics and sat on the lawn at The Quail that same year. Today, its 370-cubic-inch V-8—based on a Dart block and boasting 227-cc CNC cylinder heads and a four-barrel 850-cfm carb—is fresh from a disassembly service at Predator Performance, which included new pistons, rings, rod bearings, valve springs, gaskets, and seals. This C4 boasts a lot of pedigree for a relatively modern car and, judging from the spec sheet, is raring to go once more.
1960 Chevrolet Corvette “Race Rat” Tanker
Mecum, Lot F158
1960 was a big year for the Corvette. Carroll Shelby’s Cobras had yet to arrive on the scene, and America’s sports car was establishing its reputation as a performance car on the global stage, AMA racing ban be damned. Nine years after a painful foray into the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Briggs Cunningham’s privateer team returned to the Circuit de la Sarthe—and successfully finished in the top ten. Americans were watching, and production finally surpassed 10,000 units. Stateside, a Corvette dominated its class at Sebring—this very car, whose order sheet bears witness to GM’s under-the-table factory support of these trackside shenanigans.
Armed with a specially prepped and fuel-injected 283-cubic-inch small-block with a solid-lifter cam, it’s one of only 10 cars for 1960 to boast the 24-gallon fuel tank (LPO 1625A). Its race kit is complemented by heavy-duty brakes (RPO 687), and race-intended 5.5-inch-wide wheels (RPO 276). (All perfectly normal options to appear on the order form of a road car.) Dubbed the “Race Rat,” this beastie was (sneakily) prepped by Zora Arkus-Duntov himself ahead of its 1960 class victory at Sebring, where it was campaigned by Bill Fritts and Chuck Hall. It’s since taken multiple honors at the Amelia Island Concours, plus the Greenwich Concours, and will cross the block resplendent in its Sebring-win configuration, down to its proper “Race Rat” decals.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette “Big Brake” Airbox
Mecum, Lot F164
Even before the golden year of 1960, the Corvette was gaining momentum as a hairy-chested bruiser, and this highly optioned 1957 car shows just how potent of a race machine the average Joe could get. This ’57, which raced in the SCCA at Sebring, Daytona International, and Lime Rock, boasts both the highly desired “big brake” package and the coveted Airbox intake system (RPO 579E), the latter of which was unique to the 283/283 small-block with its solid-lifter cam and Rochester fuel injection.
That’s not all for this Polo White convertible, either: Heavy-duty racing suspension (RPO 684), a Positraction rear end, the 5.5-inch-wide wheels, and both a radio and a heater delete make this one rare, mean street machine. It’s received care worthy of its exceptional spec, too, restored in 2017 with a boatload of original GM parts ranging from exhaust to shocks and a “Black Widow” tachometer. With a litany of NCRS Top Flight Awards (earned both before and after its 2017 restoration), plus an appearance at the ’87 Monterey Historics, this car would be a serious get for any Corvette collector.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette Super Sport show car
Mecum, Lot S145
There’s rare … and there’s one-of-a-kind. This is the very show car that toured the auto show circuit beginning 1957 to introduce the continuous-flow Ramjet fuel injection system developed by GM’s Rochester carburetor division. Its cut-down Plexiglas windscreen is the most obvious clue to its pedigree, and a closer look reveals a custom tachometer, a unique wood-rimmed steering wheel, and custom gas, brake, and clutch pedals. Even the tires—the original U.S. Royal XP-140 whitewalls—are remarkable, ostensibly the only set of five still in existence. Resplendent in the same spec in which it appeared at GM Motorama, this Corvette will cross the auction block for the first time ever come Saturday, January 15—and we’ll be watching closely.
1968 Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Barrett-Jackson, Lot 1420
Estimate: Upon request
Does it get any more all-American than a big-block droptop owned by the first American in outer space? The Apollo astronauts loved Corvettes, and Alan Shepard, though he was originally on the Mercury team, was no exception, ordering this white-over-brown C3 optioned with the Tri-Power-equipped, aluminum-head 427 (L89) engine mated to a four-speed manual. It’s lived a life in the spotlight since it left Shepard’s ownership, spending time at the Corvette Museum of America and the NASA U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum. A ’68 L89 convertible in #2 (Excellent) condition is valued in the six figures ($126,000), but Barrett-Jackson’s site doesn’t provide an estimate. You have to ask—and, let’s be real—this is the sort of car that justifies busting any budget.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 “Gulf One”
Mecum, Lot F157
Even casual Corvette fans know that the “Z06” moniker means something special, and the reputation of that alphanumeric was forged in large part by this car, the winningest factory-backed racing Corvette of the C2 generation. Zora Arkus-Duntov designed RPO Z06 as an Easter basket of race-going equipment: heavy-duty power drum brakes complemented by a dual-circuit master cylinder, stiffer springs and specially tuned shocks, and a beefier front stabilizer bar. He then oversaw the production of 14 late-1962 Z06-equipped Vettes and organized their distribution to customers whom he knew would take the cars racing.
This particular one is the first of two designated for Yenko Chevrolet and was delivered to Gulf Oil’s executive vice president, Grady Davis, who decked it out in Gulf livery and put Dick Thompson behind the wheel. “The Flying Dentist,” as he was called, lived up to his name and proved what a potent machine Duntov had created. The car dubbed “Gulf One” won its class at Daytona, snagged top honors in A/Production at Road America, and won the SCCA Presidents Cup at Marlboro, Maryland. Today it appears in livery to honor its appearance at the 1963 12 Hours of Sebring. Due to a gearbox failure, it and Thompson qualified but did not race at Sebring—but this remains the only one of the 14 Duntov-prepped Z06 racers to compete exclusively at the national level.
1984 Lola T711 Corvette IMSA GTP racer
Mecum, Lot U129
Now wait a minute, you may be thinking. What is a Lola doing on a list of Corvettes? For context, this ’84 racer hails from the pre-Pratt & Miller era, in which a variety of privateer teams fielded Corvettes and/or drew from the Chevy Performance parts bin. Lee Racing, who fielded the T711 shown here, decided to combine Chevy Performance grunt with a Lola body and chassis to create a mid-engine monster eligible both for IMSA and FIA Group C competition. Sort of a C8.R before the C8.R, if you will.
The Kevlar- and carbon-fiber-bodied oddball didn’t enjoy much success on track, retiring in nine out of 12 races between ’85 and ’86, despite being driven by NASCAR Cup champ Terry Labonte. It seems to have fared better in retirement, competing in vintage events such as the Silverstone Classic and the 2014 Le Mans Legends. T711-HU02 is eligible for the Sebring 12 Hour and Daytona 24 Hour Classics events and comes with an extensive selection of Lola and Corvette spares. While it originally had a 90-degree turbo V-6 based on a Chevy small-block, it now is motivated by a more Chevrolet traditional mill, a 430-cubic-inch aluminum V-8. Want an obscure slice of Chevrolet racing (with a lowercase “r”) history? This mixed-heritage mid-engine beast is a tantalizing ticket.
1966 Chevrolet Corvette Pilot Line L88
Mecum, Lot S237
Estimate: Upon request
It’s not often that you see a red-liveried Corvette with a Ferrari license plates—but crossed-flag aficionados know that this is far more than a Prancing Horse fan’s love affair with American muscle. Or maybe there’s some truth to that after all, because this factory-built C2 racer was prepped for the 12 Hours of Sebring by seasoned Le Mans driver Luigi Chinetti, a long-time friend of Enzo Ferrari, a factory agent for the marque in the U.S, and owner of the North American Racing Team (NART). Chinetti didn’t work on this red beastie alone, either: The same man who sponsored his U.S. naturalization collaborated with him on this C2. A Belgian-born fellow named Zora Arkus-Duntov, if you’ve heard of him.
The car’s spec sheet reads like a run sheet of hallowed Chevy performance hardware: a dyno-seasoned L88 engine mated to a heavy-duty four-speed manual and driving a Positraction rear end, transistorized ignition (K66), race-spec brakes (J56), heavy-duty suspension (F41), a 36-gallon gas tank, a fresh air-intake hood, and the first shoulder-harness belts ever fitted to a factory-backed 1966 Corvette race car.
Those who have spent time behind its wheel include Zora himself and Don Yenko. It has raced at Daytona International, Talladega, Charlotte, VIR, and Road Atlanta. Restored in 2013, the car has since raked in MCACN and Bloomington Gold honors, with a resume capped by the Grand Sport Trophy at the 2020 Amelia Concours d’Elegance. This red-liveried legend—one of the “Four Kings” backed by Chevy and developed directly by Zora—has potential to set a high-water mark for the Corvette market when it crosses Mecum’s block on Saturday, January 15.
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