[VIDEO] Award-Winning 1961 Corvette Donated to the National Corvette Museum


[VIDEO] Award-Winning 1961 Corvette Donated To The National Corvette Museum

Photo Credits: National Corvette Museum

An enthusiast with a long-time passion for Corvettes and their preservation for future generations to enjoy has donated his highly awarded 1961 Corvette to the National Corvette Museum.

The presentation of his Honduras Maroon Corvette came just three weeks after Howard “Howie” Maxwell had been to the same Museum and picked up his new 2020 Zeus Bronze Corvette Stingray.

“Nowadays, a lot of people are turning cars into restomods,” Maxwell explained during the presentation ceremony for the ‘61. “I was afraid if I sold it, somebody would just want the shell and would basically put a new car underneath it, giving them more conveniences, which is understandable for me.”

[VIDEO] Award-Winning 1961 Corvette Donated To The National Corvette Museum

But since he is a member of and judge for the NCRS (National Corvette Restorers Society) and Bloomington Gold and his ’61 has earned numerous awards over the years for its originality, Maxwell didn’t want to see that happen.

“For me, I’m a history buff, and I like the idea of preserving the history of something,” he said. “If I donate it to the Museum, it’s pretty much going to stay in the shape it was in when it was built. This way I know it’s in a place where lots of people get to enjoy it, not just one person.”

Back in 1989, Maxwell actually was at Bloomington looking for a ’67 big block car when he stumbled across this one-owner ’61 ordered new by Howard Heinbach, built late in production in St. Louis on June 30, 1961 just as the ‘62s were debuting.

“The car has always been garage kept and is an original, numbers-matching car,” Maxwell said. “It has its original engine, 4-speed transmission, and Positraction rear end as it came from the factory.”

[VIDEO] Award-Winning 1961 Corvette Donated To The National Corvette Museum

Heinbach ordered the Corvette with the coves painted the same color as the rest of the car and also specified the 283/270 hp engine with a pair of four-barrel carburetors, whitewall 670×15 tires, signal-seeking AM radio, and white convertible top.

“As mentioned before, to this day, the car has its original drivetrain and engine, all numbers matching, as well as all the correct date codes,” Maxwell said. “The only exception is that the car got repainted early in its life (after being parked too close to a picket fence when they were spray painting the fence). Otherwise it could have been a Five Star Bow Tie car because of its originality.”

Under Maxwell’s care, the car has received many NCRS Top Flight Awards and passed a stringent Performance Verification Test before earning the prestigious Zora A. Duntov Award in 1991 at the California Annual Meeting of the NCRS – presented by Mr. Duntov himself! “That was one of the highlights of my life,” Maxwell says, “as the majority of my family was there also.”

Other awards include the NCRS Founders Award and Bloomington Gold Certification in 1995, and the car has also appeared at the Concours of the Eastern United States, Hilton Head Island Concours, and many others.

But don’t think this Corvette has been just a show car. Far from it, Maxwell has driven the car cross country on two occasions, going from Pennsylvania to California one time and from Pennsylvania to Colorado another time. “I never considered this car a trailer queen,” he says, “and have several NCRS Sam Fultz Awards for driving the car the furthest distance to a meet, while still receiving a Top Flight Certificate!”

Maxwell’s car also was part of the Fifty-Year Evolution of the Corvette caravan and display in June 2003 in Nashville and Bowling Green, where he says it was “fun being treated as a VIP” since at most events he was usually busy working as a judge for NCRS and Bloomington Gold. “It was an enjoyable experience, and we were able to share some of the history of the car with the fans that came to see one Corvette from every year of production for the first 50 years of Corvette,” he says.

[VIDEO] Award-Winning 1961 Corvette Donated To The National Corvette Museum

Derek Moore, Director of Collections and Curator for the Museum, is trying to get a Corvette from every model year and that goal is getting closer after getting the first ’61.

“One of the big things our Museum is about is presenting Corvette history and telling the story of not only the generations, but the years Corvette has been produced and been a part of the Corvette lifestyle,” Moore said during the presentation ceremony. “To have a Lifetime Member, someone who has supported this institution from the very beginning be one of the people to step up and help us fulfill that mission and goal of having one of each model year of Corvette, and to do it with such an amazing car is huge.”

Maxwell’s love for Corvettes goes back further than just the NCM, though, indeed all the way back to his youth. “As a kid, like many others, I couldn’t afford any Corvettes,” he recalls. “A friend of mine was a pharmacist, and he had a 1961 from new, and I had the chance to drive it. That put a desire in me to someday own a ’61. So when saw this car and realized it was original and had only the one owner, it certainly intrigued me. Long story short, I bought it.”

And now this generous enthusiast has donated it to the NCM!

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  1. The award you refer to as “NCRS Sam Fultz Award” is actually the Sam Folz Memorial award. Only 23 have been awarded to date.

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