Grand Sport Corvette Chassis #002 – one of the legendary five Corvettes secretly built by Zora Arkus-Duntov and the Corvette engineering team explicitly for racing will be offered for sale at RM Auction’s Automobiles of Arizona in January 2009. The 1963 Corvette Grand Sports are considered to be some of the rarest and most valuable Corvettes ever made, and this will be the first time one is being made available in a public sale.
Built to challenge Carrol Shelby’s Cobras in SCCA and FIA endurance races, the Grand Sport program originally called for 125 of these lightweight Corvette race cars to be built, which would allow the cars to run in the GT class at Sebring and Le Mans. The Grand Sports weighed in at about 1,900 pounds, or 1,300 pounds less than a stock Corvette coupe. They were originally powered by an all aluminum 377 ci V8 with 58 mm side draft Weber carbs. The engine was capable of 550 horsepower and coupled to a 4-speed transmission.
Failing to meet the 125 minimum build, the Corvettes raced in the prototype class in 1963 at Sebring. Although they ran against advanced purpose-built race cars, the Corvettes proved to be superior in speed and handling to the Cobras that raced in the GT class.
The Grand Sports finally got the chance to go head-to-head with the Cobras at the 1963 Nassau Speed Week race. The Corvettes finished third and fourth behind two prototypes and completely bested the Cobras.
Unfortunately the program was cancelled by GM in early 1964. The Grand Sport prototypes, two roadsters and three coupes, survived destruction and fell into the hands of private racers like Roger Penske and George Wintersteen who preserved their heritage for future generations.
Some have estimated that a Grand Sport Corvette could sell for as much as $5 million dollars and with that kind of estimate, it’s totally plausible that this Corvette could be the most expensive Corvette ever purchased at an auction.
The #002 Corvette Grand Sport is scheduled for sale at the Automobiles of Arizona event on Friday, January 16th. The following is excerpted from the press release:
Preeminent international auction house, RM Auctions, will open the 2009 collector car season in grand style as they offer one of the rarest and most valuable Corvettes in history â€“ the legendary 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport â€“ at their famed â€˜Automobiles of Arizonaâ€™ event. The January 16th event will mark RMâ€™s 10th anniversary sale in Phoenix, Arizona.
PHOENIX, Arizona (October 21, 2008) â€“ Preeminent international auction house, RM Auctions will mark their 10th anniversary Automobiles of Arizona auction event in Phoenix, Arizona with the sale of one the rarest and most valuable Corvettes in history â€“ an all mighty 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (chassis no. 002).
Often referred to as one of the most fascinating enigmas in motor racing annals and certainly one of the most valuable, the Grand Sport was General Motorâ€™s contender to Fordâ€™s venerable Shelby Cobra. Envisioned by the legendary ‘father of the Corvette’, Zora Arkus-Duntov, these top secret, hand-built race cars were designed to win at FIA endurance races and ultimately the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only five were built out of an expected 120 car run before General Motors cancelled its competition activities in early 1964. Miraculously, each of the prototypes escaped destruction orders, falling into the hands of private racers who preserved their heritage for future generations.
From this elite fraternity, the multi-million dollar 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport (Chassis no. 002) with its original un-restored race body is being offered for the first time ever at RMâ€™s Biltmore auction in January. Previously owned by Roger Penske and George Wintersteen, 002 is one of just two roadsters produced out of the original five prototypes.
â€œThe Corvette Grand Sport is one of the greatest American racing cars and quite possibly, one of the most historically significant American built race bred automobiles ever produced,â€ says Ian Kelleher, Managing Director of RM Auctions. â€œAdditionally, for Corvette enthusiasts, this car is singularly the most important and significant Corvette to ever come to market, making its offering in Arizona a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire such an important piece of American motoring history.â€
Keith Martin, Publisher of Corvette Market Magazine adds: â€œThe Grand Sport is clearly one of the most desirable Corvettes ever built. With its significant racing history, featuring a strong showing in the 1966 U.S. Road Racing Championship, it is the most important Corvette to ever be offered for sale publicly.â€
This legendary Corvette will be presented along with over 100 exceptional vintage automobiles and motorcycles.
Photo credits – Studio: RM Auctions-Troy Wood Vintage: Dave Friedman
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