One of the most dominating Corvettes in auto racing history was sold over the weekend at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auction for an astounding $1.485 million. Grady Davis’ Gulf Oil Racing Team purchased the Corvette in 1962 from Yenko Chevrolet and the car was campaigned by none other than “The Flying Dentist”, Dr. Dick Thompson in the 1962 SCCA-A Production Class. In 14 races, the Gulf Oil ’62 Corvette finished first in class 12 times including wins at Daytona and Sebring and captured the 1962 A-Production Championship.
The Corvette was sold at the end of the 1962 season to Tony Denman who successfully raced the car throughout 1963, finishing second in class at Daytona while battling against newer Corvettes, Ferrari GTOs and Porsches. At the end of the 1963 season, Denman removed most of the high performance racing parts in order to sell the car as a typical street Corvette.
Almost 20 years later, the Corvette was discovered by the Rev. Mike Ernst who found the Corvette, now painted red, being driven by a college student who was using the Corvette as a daily driver. In researching the Corvette, Ernst found the car came with the rare and highly sought after RPO 687 package which includes the heavy duty brakes, suspension and steering. The Corvette also had a 37-gallon fuel tank which was common for RPO 687 Corvettes that were raced at the time.
Ernst began restoration of the 1962 Corvette in the early 1980’s. The disassembly and paint-stripping process revealed the car to be none other than Dick Thompson’s 1962 Gulf Oil Corvette. Ernst was able to track down Tony Denman who had stored most of the high performance racing parts from the Corvette in his parent’s garage before selling them in 1979. With Denman’s assistance, Ernst tracked down the buyer of the parts and bought them back, reuniting them with the Corvette in May of 1985.
Among the list of parts were Stewart Warner gauges, roll bar, some of the Yenko extra-heavy-duty suspension pieces, aluminum bell housing, separate scatter shield, engine block, cylinder heads, exhaust manifolds, Posi-Traction units, ring and pinions and various hardware. After these racing parts were reassembled, the Corvette was painted its original Ermine White and Blue livery and became the first recipient of the NCRS American Heritage Award.
The 1962 Gulf Oil Corvette returned to the track and raced at Laguna Seca and Palm Springs. It was shown at the Carlisle of Corvettes Racer and Race Car reunion and in 2002 underwent a complete restoration by Doug Prince and Jerry Roman.
In 2005, the Corvette was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame and was displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum and was shown at Corvette’s 50th Anniversary Celebration.
Last year the Corvette underwent another restoration by Kevin Mackay of Corvette Repair in New York.
The 1962 Gulf Oil Corvette features a number of astonishing details including an original Motorola two-way radio, allowing car on-course-to-pit communication. It’s believed to be the first use of such equipment in a race car. Other details include correct Koni shock absorbers, finned heavy-duty brakes, painted steel wheels wearing period-correct Goodyear tires, enormous fiberglass scoops for brake cooling. The driveline reveals its content to consist of original date-stamped parts, including the original matching-numbers engine.
The Corvette is highly documented with a collection of publications that featured articles about the race car and an extensive collection of photos from its racing days. In addition to its NCRS and Bloomington Gold certificates, a bill of sale from Yenko Chevrolet to Grady Davis is also included.
Gooding & Company estimated the sale of the Gulf Oil Corvette would bring between $950,000 – $1,250,000. When the gavel dropped on Saturday, August 17th, the final price was $1,485,000, well above the presale estimates. With its winning pedigree in FIA sanction events which included the 1962 Daytona and Sebring races, the 1962 Gulf Oil Corvette is eligible for any international FIA historical events including the LeMans Classic 24 and Goodwood Revival races.