Back in the early years of the Corvette, a fellow named Robert Clift was the development engineer for Chevrolet’s new sports car.
Clift reported directly to Zora Arkus-Duntov and, like the boss, even had his own test mule that he raced. It’s commonly referred to as the “White Mule 54”.
Clift’s car disappeared for a while after he sold it, then apparently resurfaced in the 1990s when it was restored and reunited with Clift:
Now, though, a seller on eBay claims that car is a fake and he has the real White Mule 54, though he apparently lacks any documentation to prove it. Likewise, his car doesn’t have the V8 engine and prototype 4-speed transmission that were in Clift’s car. The seller claims the original drivetrain was removed to be used in the fake White Mule 54 in the 1990s, but we wonder why someone would do that when it would make more sense to just restore the real car if they had it.
Circumstantial evidence does support the claim that the car currently reaching a bid of $5,800 on eBay is the real Clift’s car, at least according to the seller. As proof, he points out the uniquely mounted roll bar, the coil over style suspension and the body damage that Clift’s car had suffered prior to his acquiring it. Then there’s the z-bar style “prototype” clutch pedal like the one that was in the real thing, but it could just be a factory made clutch assembly from a later Corvette.
Still, things just don’t quite add up on this new Clift’s car. Going back to that missing drivetrain mentioned earlier, why would someone remove the engine and transmission to use in another car and then leave the clutch pedal behind? Just doesn’t make sense.
Let’s hope someone can solve this mystery and allow the “real” Clift’s White Mule 54 to please stand up, to coin a phrase from the old “To Tell the Truth” game show.
Even if it’s not the genuine Clift’s White Mule 54, however, we’d still like to see this car restored, wouldn’t you? Even in its raw form, any first-generation ‘Vette gets the blood of a true enthusiast boiling.
Check out the full ebay listing and see if that convinces you if the seller has Bob Clift’s original White Mule 54. The auction ends on Sunday at 10:44 PM ET.