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Lot 251

1962 Chevrolet Corvette "Gulf Oil" Race Car

  • Chassis no. 20867S103980
  • Engine no. 2103980

Sold for $1,650,000


360+ bhp, 327 cu in. OHV V-8 engine with Rochester mechanical fuel injection, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with upper and lower A-arms, unequal length wishbones, coil springs, an anti-roll bar, and tubular shocks, live axle rear suspension with semi-elliptic leaf springs and tubular shock absorbers, and four-wheel heavy-duty drum brakes. Wheelbase: 102 in.

  • The 1962 SCCA A/Production champion
  • Driven by the legendary Dr. Dick Thompson for Grady Davis’s Gulf Oil Racing team
  • Winner of the first-ever NCRS American Heritage Award
  • Extensively documented, authentically restored, and beautifully maintained
  • One of the most significant of all Corvette racing cars


AMERICA’S SPORTS CAR

Undoubtedly the most cherished and desirable Corvettes of all time are those that took to the race track in the 1950s and 1960s, where they would do battle with Europe’s finest. In this regard, the Corvette was truly America’s sports car and a symbol of the Land of the Free’s ingenuity, tenacity, and a never-ending desire to be and beat the best.

The 1962 Corvette offered here is one of the most iconic Corvettes in existence. It wrote its name into the history books over the course of the 1962 racing season, and it was associated with a number of individuals who were hugely important not only to the history of the Corvette but also American sports car racing.

The Corvette was already a very desirable car by the time it came off the production line, as it was fitted with the 327/360 fuel-injected engine, a massive 37 gallon fuel tank, and the highly capable RPO 687 package, which was a package that only 246 Corvettes received that model year. This option put the car in virtually race-ready condition “as-is,” as it added heavy-duty brakes, suspension with special rear shocks, additional air scoops for the brakes, and a quicker steering ratio.

After being completed, it was sent to Don Yenko’s famous Chevrolet dealership in Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, from which it was sold to Grady Davis’s highly successful Gulf Oil Racing team, who prepared it for competition in the 1962 SCCA A-Production series.

A CORVETTE AND A DENTIST

The racing record that followed was truly astounding. Starting with the Daytona National race on January 28, Dick Thompson, known as “The Flying Dentist” for his somewhat less glamorous day job, piloted the Corvette to a 2nd place finish in this highly competitive event. That would be just the beginning of the Corvette’s success, and the lowest place it would sit on the podium that year. It returned to Daytona a few weeks later, for the Continental 3 Hour race, and it won its class. The car would see an identical result at the 12 Hours of Sebring, with Duncan Black and M.J.R. Wylie behind the wheel, thus cementing the Corvette’s credibility on the world stage.

Sebring was the only event that Thompson sat out of, but he would be behind the wheel of the Corvette for the remainder of the year. Throughout 14 races, the Corvette chalked up an incredible 12 wins following Daytona and Sebring, at such race tracks across the northeastern United States as Watkins Glen, Road America, and the Virginia International Raceway. That season helped to cement Dr. Thompson’s reputation as not only one of the greatest drivers in SCCA history but also one of the greatest drivers to have ever piloted a Corvette in competition.

Following the end of the 1962 season, the Corvette returned to Yenko Chevrolet and was purchased by Tony Denman, who continued to campaign the car. It returned to Daytona for the 250-mile race, as well as the 3 Hours of Daytona, placing 6th and 22nd overall, respectively, which translated to a 2nd in class on both occasions. This was quite impressive considering that Denman had been racing for less than a year at the SCCA Driver’s School (with Thompson as his instructor). Nineteen sixty-three would be the end of the Corvette’s racing career, as it was converted to street specifications and sold at the end of the season.

REDISCOVERED BY REVEREND ERNST

For the next 20 years, the Corvette’s racing history remained unknown, as it was driven as a street car, repainted green, and then red, and then passed through just four owners during this time. It was purchased by Rev. Mike Ernst, a Lutheran minister and a known Corvette expert, who found the car being used as a daily driver by a college student who was completely unaware of its racing history. Ernst confirmed not only that the car was sold new with the RPO 687 package but also that it was a legendary piece of Corvette history. He was further able to confirm the car’s identity throughout the disassembly process, prior to a restoration.

Although a number of the car’s racing components were missing, Ernst was able to track down the missing parts through Tony Denman, who had kept the components in his parents’ garage before selling them in 1979. Ernst was able to buy the missing parts back in May 1985, reuniting the Corvette with its original engine block, cylinder heads, exhaust manifold, Yenko heavy-duty suspension, Stewart Warner gauges, and roll bar, amongst other original components.

Following the completion of the restoration back to its Gulf Oil livery in 1987, the Corvette hit the show circuit and almost instantly began receiving awards. The car appeared at Bloomington Gold in 1987, where it was displayed as part of the Special Collection, which was made up of historically significant Corvettes. That summer, it was invited to the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, where it would take to the track for the first time in over 30 years. It was only fitting that Tony Denman, the last person to race the Corvette competitively, would be invited to get behind the wheel at this event. Under Rev. Ernst’s ownership, the Corvette returned to Bloomington in 1994 and 1997, and it also received the NCRS’ first-ever American Heritage Award, further celebrating its historic significance.

Rev. Ernst sold the Corvette to Vic Preisler, who had the car restored once again, and he continued to proudly show it off on the race track and at concours events.

In 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Corvette, this car was quite a frequent sight at numerous events that celebrated Chevrolet’s milestone. It was displayed and raced at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races, the Corvette 50th Anniversary celebration in Nashville, the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and the Sebring Race Corvette display. Following an invitation to participate at the Corvettes at Carlisle Race Car Reunion in 2004, the car was inducted to into the Bloomington Gold Hall of Fame.

The car received another restoration in 2007 and was once again invited to Corvettes at Carlisle, where it was part of the Chip’s Choice display in 2007. The Corvette was purchased by the Andrews’ in 2008, and it has remained in their collection ever since, amongst many other great performance cars of the era. This Corvette is accompanied by an extremely impressive and comprehensive file that contains documents and photos from throughout its life, and it remains ready to return to the show field or the race track, where it would be welcome with the best.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more