While rally wheels were standard equipment on the 1967 Corvette, there was an optional wheel offered for the final year of the Sting Ray. RPO N89 was designated as “Cast Aluminum Bolt-on Wheels” and 720 buyers selected the pricey option, adding an additional $263.30 to the invoice. Fast forward 40-some years and now an original set of Kelsey Hayes sells for big bucks. How big? How about $20,000!
To know more about this wheel, you have to look back at its predecessor, Chevrolet’s cast aluminum “knock-off” wheels. Knock-offs were aptly named as you used a lead hammer to tighen or loosen a locking spinner which held the wheels to the axle. The knock-off wheel was first offered in 1963, although there are no records that a set of the new wheels were sold that year. From 1964 to 1966, GM sold 3,115 sets of the cast aluminum finned wheels. But after the 1966 model year, federal safety guidelines outlawed the knock-offs and so GM offered a new direct bolt-on wheel in its place.
The new 1967 wheels were unpainted cast aluminum with machined fins and a starburst cover concealed the five lug nuts. A new Corvette ordered with the option would have come with five wheels, one of which was in the spare tire tub. Offered originally for $263,30, they were $52 cheaper than the knock off wheel option offered in 1966.
So why would an original set of 1967 Kelsey Hayes wheels be worth $20,000? Simple economics. Only 720 sets were sold. As the 1967 model is one of the most popular years for Corvette collectors, having an original set of Kelsey Hayes “completes” the restoration, especially when money isn’t the deciding factor. A set of Kelsey Hays on your Sting Ray won’t increase your Corvette’s value $20,000 by themselves. But if they can help with secure a Bloomington Gold or NCRS Top Flight award, that’s all the motivation some need.
This auction is for a set of four wheels mounted to a set of Coker red line radials. The seller is offering the wheels and tires with a “Buy it Now” price of $19,800.
Note to self: Keep an eye out for original Kelsey Hayes bolt on wheels for the 1967 Corvette. They’re worth big bucks! Huge bucks!