One of the most famous Corvette race cars in history will go on the auction block at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2016 set for Jan. 23-31.
The Purple People Eater Corvette – which was driven by Florida-based driver Jim Jeffords, who singlehandledly ended the West Coast’s domination of Corvette racing late in the 1950s – was discovered by legendary Corvette enthusiast Chip Miller, founder of what is now Carlisle Events, and Ken Heckert, a restoration shop owner, in the mid-1970s.
Miller and Heckert thought they had found just an ordinary Corvette race car and actually forgot about the vehicle through the years, covering it with a sheet and using it as a “table” in Heckert’s warehouse.
A few years later, Miller decided to see if he could find the Corvette racer he had heard about from the 1950s that became known as the Purple People Eater.
Jeffords and his purple Nickey Chevrolet had proven nearly unbeatable during the 1958/1959 racing seasons, earning the nickname after winning the 1959 SCCA National Championship in the B/Production class.
After nearly dominating an entire season, the Purple People Eater was sold in 1961, repainted, and raced for a few years before facing into obscurity.
Eventually, it resurfaced anonymously in 1974 when Miller and Heckert bought it for just $800 at a Carlisle event.
Miller decided that the car was important enough to find and restore, but after much research, he discovered he didn’t have to look very far – he already owned the car and it was in Heckert’s warehouse serving as the support for a work space!
Thus began a restoration project that brought the historic Corvette back to its glory days – complete with the purple paint job with white coves, a white circle on each side and hood with black numbers, as well as original graphics and designs.
Now the car – presented with copious amounts of documents, awards, and heritage – will be offered to a new owner at the January auction.
Originally, the Purple People Eater was white over a black interior with the 283/290 engine and a four-speed manual, along with Posi-traction, heavy-duty brakes, and suspension and heater delete. Nickey Chevrolet added a hood latch, big fuel tank, safety chains, and a roll bar. The stock windshield and frame were replaced with a small, sleek racing windscreen.
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