Archive for the ‘Virgil “Gus” Grissom’ Category

Gus Grissom Corvette

July 30, 2007

 Throughout the 1960’s, the U.S. was engaged in a “SPACE RACE” with the Soviet Union….it was a race to be the first to land a man on the moon and return safely back to Earth.

At the Cape, there was a different kind of race going on…it was a race to see which Astronaut had the fastest Corvette!.

The 2 major contenders were Alan Shepard and Virgil “Gus” Grissom.

In early fall of 1966, both Gus and Alan took delivery of new 1967 Corvette Roadsters equipped with the 427/435hp pavement pounding big block engines.

A dear friend of mine, Jim Rathmann who owned Jim Rathmann Chevrolet/Cadillac in Melbourne, Florida delivered both cars from his Chevy dealership.

Gus went privately to Jim and told him that Alan was a more experienced driver and that if he were to be competitive, he would need an edge.

Jim had a 4:56 posi-traction rear installed in Gus’s car and then had the rear wheel openings flared out and a set of racing slicks installed. I’m sure you can guess the outcome…Gus won almost all of the time when the 2 would square off at the Cape on a Saturday night and race each other a 1/4 of a mile for dinner or a beer.

Sadly, all this fun ended tragically on January 27th, 1967 when Gus along with fellow Astronauts Edward White and Roger Chaffee perished in the Apollo One fire on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy.

The car had several owners and in 1985 ended up in the hands of a gentleman in South Florida.

He owned this incredible piece of history until the Spring of 2006 when the Corvette was purchased by Cars Of Yesterday, Inc. This vintage car dealership operates the Cars From Yesterday vintage car museum which can be seen at www.carsfromyesterday.com

Rick Hofberg, Shawn and Marvin Friedman appeared in December of 2006 on the Today show in South Florida hosted by long time car collector, Bob Mayer who has been a news caster with NBC for more than 30 years. Shawn  announced the car would be sold at the Russo and Steele car auction in Scottsdale,  Arizona at NO RESERVE in a few weeks. www.russoandsteele.com

The car was sold to a Corvette Collector in the Phoenix area for $275,000.