America may never know a time like the 1960s when our nation was on a frantic race to reach the moon before the end of the decade.
This weekend at Mecum Auto Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida, someone will be able to buy a piece of space exploration history when Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom’s 1967 Corvette goes on the block.
The historic Corvette convertible is expected to bring $150,000 to $175,000 when it’s auctioned off on Saturday, January 25. That’s down from $275,000 the car fetched at a Russo and Steele auction in January 2009.
Sadly, Grissom got to enjoy the car only a few weeks before his untimely death in the fire that also killed two of his fellow astronauts inside Apollo 1 on the launch pad.
According to Mecum, the Grissom Sting Ray is “extensively documented” and “more than a highly desirable of the class of the mid-year field; it is a precious artifact from an historic era of 20th century American history.”
Grissom took delivery of the L71 427/435 horsepower Tri Power Corvette from Jim Rathmann Chevrolet in Melbourne, Florida. Mecum reports that Rathmann – who won the Indy 500 in 1960 and competed in the race 13 other times – “witnessed many a race at the expansive Cape Canaveral NASA complex between Grissom and (Alan) Shepard, who drove an identically-equipped Corvette.”
What we wouldn’t give to see those races on video now!
Rathmann supplied Corvettes to the Mercury Seven astronauts (Grissom, Shepard, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, and Donald “Deke” Slayton) as well as other early astronauts.
Sadly, Grissom’s Corvette will be on display at the auction just two days before the 47th anniversary of his untimely death.
Grissom is a true space icon, having been the second U.S. astronaut to fly into space when he was aboard the Liberty Bell 7 in 1961. He also was the first person to fly in space twice, working with John W. Young on Gemini 3 in 1965.