At the time, a standard equipment, big-block Phase III GT listed at $10,500 and could be upgraded with a button-tufted leather interior ($600), Candy-Pearl paint ($500), a 454ci L88 engine ($1,000), plus a host of luxury and performance options. Popular add-ons included a Formula 1 leather steering wheel ($75), an NHRA-approved clutch-flywheel package ($250), and headers ($200). While a modified 350-inch small-block GT was offered, none was ever built.
Rollings worked very closely with Rosen on the powertrain specifications, as he wanted a car that would deliver maximum performance as well as daily driving and cruising convenience. The result was a blueprinted, high-compression (12.5:1) LS6 454 fitted with a Phase III street cam and valvetrain, open-chamber aluminum L88/ZL1 heads, headers with smog fittings, and an 850-cfm Holley double-pumper fed by dual electric fuel pumps. (In the day this beast could easily be nourished with Sunoco 260 and other brands of high-octane pump gas.) A beefed-up automatic transmission backed by a Hone overdrive and a 4.88 Posi rear completed the drivetrain.
With air conditioning, an automatic, and the Hone overdrive (which supplied a 3.42 final drive when engaged), Rollings knew his GT would truly be a supercar for all seasons. After the order was placed, he upgraded to diamond-tufted seats and door panels he had seen in a Maco Shark Corvette conversion at Motion. That added another $600 to the order. The total: $16,283. For $3,000-4,000 more, he could've bought a new Ferrari Daytona!
On June 3, 1971, Rollings paid the balance due-$11,283.00 including an In-Transit Permit-and drove the GT more than 700 miles from Baldwin to his home in Savannah.
Over the years he used his GT for daily driving, house calls, and even to tow his Jaguar race car. Interestingly, the Corvette's original Day 2 tow hitch was still with the car when Tuckman purchased it. Between June 1971 and 1989, when he gave the GT to his daughter and son-in-law, Ellen and Don Glasser, it accumulated approximately 31,000 miles and a color change to Hugger Orange.
"One day in 1974, Harry saw a Hugger Orange Corvette at our local Corvette-club meeting and fell in love with the color," says Richard Miller, the son of Dr. Rollings' best friend and owner at the time of a '63 split-window Vette.
"Next thing I knew, I was helping a local painter strip the car and get it ready for paint. He loved that Corvette, drove it hard, and even ran it at our local sports car track, Roebling Road Raceway."
It's interesting to note that during those years, Rollings bought and sold many exotics, but never sold the GT. He drove it right up to the time he "gifted" it to Ellen and Don, who were Special Agents with the FBI. Don retired in 2002, and his wife, four years later. Dr. Rollings passed away in June 2003.
"Dad was truly larger than life. He was a sportsman, racer, sailor, and pilot. And he was a caring doctor and a wonderful father to me, my four sisters, and brother," says Ellen Glasser. "He bought a Catalina PBY Flying Boat just to go fishing in the Gulf. That was after the B-25. [He also] owned four boats, including a 34-foot sport fisherman and a 41-foot Morgan sailboat. When we were growing up, we never knew what he would come home with next!"
Just how original and documented is Adam Tuckman's rare Phase III GT? The Corvette came with its original Baldwin Chevrolet invoice, insurance endorsement, and Motion Performance shop order build sheets and invoice. Also included were tuning and maintenance specs (including the proper jetting for the 850 Holley, timing and valve settings, fuel requirements, and recom-mended tire pressures) written by Dr. Rollings on New York Hilton Hotel notepaper!
"Once we disassembled Adam's GT we discovered that over almost 40 years, very few hands had touched it. We had Jerry Ambrosi, of Master Upholstery, in Newton, New Jersey, replicate the original button-tufted leather interior, which was too worn to restore. Many original factory markings were still visible, and the engine and drivetrain had not been changed," says restorer John Waleck, of Artisan Coach Works, in Hopatcong, New Jersey.
"We rebuilt the 12.5:1 454, installed a new, correct Holley four-barrel and water pump, and, after talking with Joel Rosen to determine original cam and valvetrain specs, installed roller components that work best with today's lubricants. The modified Turbo-400 automatic had never been touched and still had its Motion shift kit, special valve body, and governor intact. It was rebuilt to original Motion specs. We rebuilt the Hone overdrive as well," says Waleck.