After nearly three years of legal wrangling, it appears that the fight over the recently discovered and unrestored 1960 Corvette that was one of three Corvettes campaigned at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans by Briggs Cunningham has come to end. The Federal Judge overseeing the case has signed off to a partnership agreement between the three parties for the former race car which is estimated to be valued at $2.5 million.
In 1960, American racer Briggs Cunningham purchased three identical 1960 Corvettes and took them to France where they became the first Corvettes to race at the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Corvettes were numbered 1, 2, and 3 and there also a number 4 Corvette that was campaigned by Camoradi USA. The No.1 Corvette wrecked in the 3rd hour of the race when it went off track during a rain storm and suffered an engine fire. The No.2 Corvette (now owned by collector Bruce Meyers of CA) drove 20 hours but retired with a broken piston. Only the No.3 Corvette was able to finish the race and it was declared the winner of its class.
After the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Corvettes were brought back to the US where they were converted back to street form and sold as used. The new owners of each of the cars had no idea they were raced at Le Mans. The great documentary by Michael Brown called The Quest details the search for the three Corvettes and ultimately the finding and restoration of the No.3 car owned by Lance Miller.
Now back to the story about the No.1 Corvette racecar.
If you recall, the #1 1960 Cunningham Corvette racer was discovered in 2012 in a St. Petersburg, Florida warehouse and was soon acquired by Lance Miller of Corvettes at Carlisle from the family who owned the warehouse. Miller immediately sold the car for $75,000 to noted Corvette restorer Kevin Mackay of Corvette Repair, Inc in Valley Stream, NY.
Initially, the car was going to be shown at the 2012 Corvettes at Carlisle, but that’s when things got interesting. Enter Dan Mathis, Jr. of Florida who claimed the Corvette was stolen from his father’s driveway in Tampa nearly 40 years ago. The car was reportedly purchased by his father for $700 who converted the car into a drag racer.
Once the discovery of the car became known, another actor in the lawsuit, Domenico Idoni told Mathis Jr. that the car had been located and was now owned by Mackay. Mathis called the cops and produced a new title to the car that was dated a couple weeks after Miller’s purchase. Soon after the 2012 Corvettes at Carlisle show, Mathis Jr. filed a federal lawsuit in 2012 to fight for the ownership of the car and the judge ruled later that indeed his suit did have merit which allowed the ownership fight to continue.
It was a few months later after the lawsuit was filed that Mathis Jr. filed for bankruptcy in Florida and so he sold his claims to the car to Idoni and another partner named Gino Burelli. Burelli was aligned with Idoni during the legal fight for the 1960 Cunningham Corvette.
In the recent court ruling, US Middle District Judge John E. Jones III agreed to a three-way partnership crafted by lawyers representing Burelli and Mackay that will end the ownership dispute of the car. In the agreement, Mackay’s partners would have to pay him $750,000 to buy out his 30% interest in the car.
Now that ownership of the Corvette has been settled, hopefully the car can now undergo restoration back to its 1960 Le Mans configuration. Since the news of its find in 2012, Corvette enthusiasts have been counting down the days to see it reunited with the No.2 and No.3 Corvettes that were its stable mates at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
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