Everyone knows about Barrett-Jackson and Kruse, two of the biggest car auctions in the world nowadays.
But that wasn’t always the case.
It took the foresight of people like the late Leo Gephart to get the ball rolling in the early 1970s.
Included with some of the original paperwork is a Certificate of Title showing Leo Gephart Inc as the owner of the Corvette, purchased from Jack Bowshier Buick Opel in Springfield, Ohio, though the photo is chopped off and we can’t see exactly when he bought it.
The car – said to have been driven just 50,000 miles since new – has been in the possession of the current owner since 1979, and he appears to have done a lot of the early heavy lifting for a new owner, though much work still remains to be done.
By 1960, Corvette was beginning to really take off. After the early struggles, sales finally climbed over 10,000 that year by some 261 units.
This one retains its original 283/230 horsepower V8 engine hooked to the super-rare automatic transmission, with only 1,766 cars leaving the St. Louis factory with that $199.10 option.
The car also has its original soft top and hardtop, but we’re not shown a photo with the ragtop in place so we don’t know what kind of condition it’s in. Like the rest of the car, the hardtop will need a fresh coat of paint, but it looks to be in good condition. Likewise, the body appears to have a new replacement hood and seems to have been partially prepped for a new paint job. Luckily, the chrome trim is in place, too.
Inside, the door panels and seats look like they’ve been replaced recently, and the interior should look very nice after the new dash pad and carpeting, included with the sale, are installed by a new owner.
back to Gephart, he was friends with Russell Kruse and discussed the idea of a car auction over lunch with him one day in 1971, with that meeting leading to the first collector-car auction organized by Kruse behind a Dairy Queen in Auburn. Still held over Labor Day weekend, it’s now the world’s largest. Gephart also encouraged Scottsdale car enthusiasts Tom Barrett and Russ Jackson to start a similar auction in 1971, and we all know what that led to.
In a 2008 interview with Hemmings, Gephart reminisced about those early days: “In the early 1970s, we were the first really big auction for old cars to go all over the United States. You had a few local people who were holding auctions, such as Kirk F. White in Philadelphia, but we were pretty much the only people back then who were really doing it commercially on a steady basis. I went to a few estate auctions myself beforehand, just to get a feel for what was going on, and it didn’t take me long to realize that an auction was a good place to find really great cars, good ones that people wanted to keep, not just fix up a little and then resell.”
In 2008, Gephart was still selling cars. “Today, I try to buy small collections,” he told Hemmings back then. “Anymore, it seems like you get too much of one thing, one kind of car, or another. I’m 78 now, and I was originally only going to do this for 10 years until I retired, and I guess if I hadn’t lost my wife, I wouldn’t have done it this long.”
Gephart eventually passed away at his home in Scottsdale at age 85, having been a classic car dealer for almost 60 years.
[VIDEO] Chevyland USA Museum to Close and Everything Will Be Sold at Auction
Corvettes for Sale: 1978 Corvette Indy 500 Pace Car Parking Lot Find
Corvettes for Sale: 1961 Corvette Owned by the Same Family for 56 Years