There was a time, many years ago, when Chevrolet actually had a racing program. In the '50s there were some factory-backed Corvettes that set about showing the performance attitude of the marque, competing against Jaguars, Mercedes, and other European brands. At that time they understood a simple marketing principle: What wins on Sunday sells on Monday.
To support that principle, a few select race cars rolled off the Corvette assembly line in St. Louis, equipped with a few very rare, race-directed parts to help them compete in races around the world. In 1960, 10 cars were built with larger-than-standard drum brakes, special sintered metallic brake pads, special cooling ducts, and oversized gas tanks. Three of these cars went on to compete at Le Mans. Two went to the Camradie Racing Team. One ultimately to Culver City, California, via Chicago, resurrected from the dead to perfection by Jeff Reade.
Jeff is no ordinary Corvette guy. His company, American Motoring Memories, is one of the premier Corvette restoration shops in the country, creating some of the finest show-winning cars on the planet. The fact that this very rare '60 fell under his care is lucky for both Jeff and this priceless white '60.
Jeff found the car through Dale Smith of OEM Glass residing in Chicago in very poor shape. The former owner had begun "panel painting" the car, slowly converting the car to red, one piece at a time ... and not doing a very good job of it. The car was literally in thousands of pieces when Jeff found it, and was a puzzle of monumental proportions. In addition, the previous owner had added a few of his own modifications including cutting out the center console and heater/radio-delete plate and crudely installing his own brand of space heater. The damage was extensive and required countless hours to research, rebuild, and restore.
With little more than the bare essentials, Jeff restored the brake ducting using the original parts. The brake drums and internal fans were restored to perfection, and original sintered metallic pads were found and installed. For our photo session, Jeff installed the correct pads; but he runs softer brake-pad material for times when the '60 sees road work, in an attempt to limit wear on these rare pieces. The gas tank was also restored to previous glory and reinstalled along with complete refurbishing of the entire car, front to back. Very rare new old stock (N.O.S.) off-road exhaust mufflers were added for authenticity. We can assure you that this restoration is perfect.
Through his research, Jeff found that this special '60 was built 62 cars behind one of the Le Mans Corvettes, probably on the same fateful day, in St. Louis. While the other cars went on to foreign wars, the actual usage of this '60 is unknown. The car's second owner worked at a gas station in the San Dimas, California, area in the late '60s. He bought the car for cash and had it for several years before selling it to a Camp Pendleton, California, marine who moved to Chicago with the car. The only facts known about this special vehicle is that 10 of this level of performance-equipped Corvettes were created, authenticated by Duntov himself (see letter at www.corvettefever.com and click on letter), during the production year. Jeff is still looking for details about the car today, including the whereabouts of the original owner (VIN 00867S103597).
It would have been easy for this Corvette to have seen a poorer fate, the optional equipment rather unknown by many collectors and cosmetically subtle, to say the least. Luckily, Jeff found and restored the piece of Corvette history from a fate worse than death (winner of the NCRA Special Collection Display and the prestigious Duntov Award). Affectionately dubbed "Igor" by Jeff because of its rebirth from the brink of extinction (and the long and extensive search for body/mechanical parts), it is a throwback to when Corvette racing was an important marketing tool, and helped build on a Corvette racing legacy still in its infancy. Thanks, Jeff.