January 15th through 19th, 2014!
Join these great Featured Consignments at the most unique auction experience ever created: Auction In The Round!
These Showcase Feature Consignments are just a sampling of the many great cars that will join over 750 others to be sold in Scottsdale this January! Check back weekly as these Feature Consignments will rotate and be updated with additional great cars. Prior to the Flagship Russo and Steele Auction, full listings of all the consignments will be posted and also available on our Digital Auction Catalog.
As one of NASA’s original seven Project Mercury astronauts and the first American to travel twice into space, the late Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom remains one of the most famous Corvette drivers and enthusiasts. Prior to the Apollo I tragedy of January 27, 1967, the 1967 Corvette 427/435 Roadster offered here was delivered to Grissom by Florida Chevy dealer and 1960 Indy 500 champion Jim Rathmann as part of the Chevrolet “brass hat” Corvette program first approved by Chevrolet General Manager Ed Cole during the early 1960s. In addition to the thundering 435-hp “Turbo-Jet” 427, Grissom ordered a number of factory options, including AM/FM radio, F41 heavy-duty suspension, M21 close-ratio four-speed transmission, off-road exhaust, 3.70:1 Positraction rear end, power steering and windows, “Strato-Ease” headrests, telescopic steering column, and transistorized ignition.
Naturally competitive and accustomed to high speeds whether in the air or on the ground, Grissom and his fellow astronauts would often tear up the road and local tracks around Melbourne, Florida in their respective Corvettes. As related in the Winter 1989 edition Corvette Quarterly article “Rocket Men in Their Rocket Ships” by Tim Keenan, Grissom’s fellow astronaut Alan Shepard was a particularly enthusiastic Corvette owner since the mid-1950s and gained a reputation among his peers as “Mr. Corvette”, but he could not beat Grissom’s ’67 Corvette. Unknown to Shepard, Grissom’s ‘Vette carried a secret weapon in the form of a 4.56:1 rear end installed at Rathmann’s dealership, giving him a tremendous edge in acceleration, much to Shepard’s chagrin. Other modifications to Grissom’s Corvette included wider tires and flared fenders.
In September 1967, Gus’ wife Betty sold the highly optioned Corvette back to Jim Rathmann Chevrolet and that October, the next owner purchased it. Several others followed, and the Corvette eventually received a high-quality restoration resulting in the achievement of NCRS Top Flight honors in 1989. On October 24, 1988, the Corvette formed part of the motorcade honoring the returning crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery (the first flown after Challenger) and in 1993, it transported Betty Grissom and son Scott during the celebrations commemorating the Gemini Program.
In addition to earning NCRS Top Flight honors in 1989, the Corvette also appeared at venues including Cypress Gardens and the National Corvette Homecoming at Bowling Green. It has also appeared in numerous magazines, news articles and calendars. A truly fascinating link to America’s early space program and one of its most colorful and highly respected pioneers, this highly equipped and handsome 427/435 Corvette is complete with title records, correspondence, and a copy of the original window sticker.