1959 Chevrolet Corvette - Purple People Eater Mk. III

Found at Carlisle, Restored to Glory

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INTERIOR MOVES ::: Other than the rollbar, seatbelt/shoulder harness, driver's windscreen, and snap-on covers over the door windows, Purple People Eater Mk III's cockpit was all factory.

Purple People Eater Mk III's success at tracks like Road America, Meadowdale, and other Midwestern road courses came thanks in no small part to Jeffords' driving skill, which Zora Arkus-Duntov brought to Nickey's attention a couple of years earlier, when they started their Corvette racing program, which resulted in the '58 B/Production title.

The success that this car had was nothing short of spectacular. It won or finished Second in every race that it finished in 1959, its mechanical fuel-injection system causing problems only for the competition.

This car was sold by Nickey in 1961 to Bob Spooner of St. Louis, who repainted it and raced it for a couple of years before selling it. With other fuel-injected Corvettes, especially 327-inch ones, as well as newer Sting Rays joining the SCCA Production ranks, this car became just another old car, with at least two subsequent owners before it landed at the first-ever Carlisle swap meet in 1974.

That's where future Carlisle Events promoter Chip Miller saw it for sale for $1,000. He and Ken Heckert were able to get the price down to $800, which they split evenly. They were co-owners of a car whose history had yet to be revealed, but whose condition Miller's son, Lance, says was far from concours. "It was kind of a 'train wreck,' but at least it was still performance-oriented," the younger Miller, who's now the car's custodian and historian, says.

Chip Miller and Bob Heckert autocrossed it for about a year, then it became a paint-mixing table in Heckert's shop until they decided to track down the car's history, with an eye toward restoring it. That happened in 1985, when they sought out the '59's previous owners, to document the special racing and heavy-duty parts the car had on it. To them, those parts had a certain high-quality appearance that could've come from original, factory-installed parts.




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