This year the prestigious Concours d”Elegance of America is taking place on Sunday, July 28, at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan, and has a special category in recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1963 Corvette.
Two of the six 1963 Corvettes in the Corvette Category will be Z06 race cars. Perhaps the star of the entire event will be the Z06 originally owned and raced by Dick Lang with an impressive and storied race history from the early and mid 1960’s when the car took on the legendary Shelby Cobras which were terrorizing the race tracks.
Terry Michaelis, president of ProTeam Corvette, was invited to show his pristine 1963 Split Window, Z06 “Tanker” which was originally campaigned successfully throughout the east by Chevrolet dealer and SCCA racer Dick Lang from Xenia, Ohio. The car was one of the “batch built” Z06’s produced in January 1963 the same week as Delmo Johnson, Mickey Thompson, and A.W. Joslin’s Z06 “tankers”.
Lang’s Z06 Coupe was one of 198 coupes built with the Z06 RPO which cost an additional $1818.45 on top of the base 1963 Corvette coupe price of $4038. There was only one 1963 convertible Z06 built. The Z06 RPO was a new option for the 1963 Corvette and was not offered as an option after the 1963 model year until it was resurrected for the 2001 model year. The 1963 RPO consisted of a larger diameter front antiroll bar, positraction, vacuum brake booster, dual master cylinder, sintered-metallic brake linings within power-assisted Al-Fin drums cooled by front air scoops and vented backing plates, and larger diameter shocks and springs almost twice as stiff as those on the base Corvette. In addition the initial Z06 package included a 36 gallon fuel tank and gave the car its nick name as “Big Tanks” or “Tankers”. But early in the production the Z06 RPO eliminated the big tank as a part of the package and lowered the price. Though the big tank was still available as an add-on $202.30 option to the Z06 package only a total of 63 of the 199 Z06’s produced had the big tank. The Z06 package also required the L84 327 cubic inch engine option rated at 360 HP with 11.25 to 1 compression ratio.
Lang successfully took on the Shelby Cobras which up until the introduction of the Grand Sports and Z06 Corvettes dominated the race tracks. Lang raced the car throughout the East and Midwest and also raced the car at Daytona. In the 1963 Daytona race, Lang kicked off a long streak of subsequent podium finishes. Then in 1964, he was the only non-Cobra car among the top five finishers at Daytona. Lang’s impressive performance coupled with the vaunted Grand Sports’ results on the track helped cement Corvette’s legendary reputation as “the car to beat”.
Lang’s former car was “discovered” in 2011 in an Ohio barn less than twenty miles from Dick Lang’s Chevrolet dealership. It was the second “barn find” 1963 Corvette Z06 found and acquired in 2011 by Terry Michaelis’ ProTeam Corvette based in Napoleaon, Ohio. The other, a silver Z06 with red interior, was found in Michigan and had been raced by A.W. Joslin. Though not as storied as the #85 red Lang car, Michaelis sold the silver Z06 concentrating his extensive research and documentation on Lang’s more celebrated Z06. ProTeam sent the red with black interior Z06 to Nabers Brothers in Houston for a full “no expense spared” restoration which cost over $220,000 and took a year to complete.
Currently the car is once again winning competitions, though not on the race track. It is winning its class at shows throughout the country. In June the Corvette won Best in Class, First Place, and Special Display awards at the 36th Annual Ault Park Concours in Cincinnati. Being extended invitations to some of the most prestigious concours in the country is a testament to the quality of the restoration and history of the car, taking home a Best in Class ribbon validates the quality and historic significance of the car. The car will be attending the NCRS convention July 21 -25 in Hampton, Virginia, before the Michigan concours.
Check out this gallery of photos showing Dick Lang’s Corvette Z06 on display at Amelia Island, as well as its unveiling last year at ProTeam’s shop in Napolean, OH:
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can see his website at revenantrt.blogspot.com