Car: '53 Corvette Serial No. 003
Sold By: Barrett-Jackson (January 2006)
Terry L. Michaelis: In 2007, more '53s were sold at auction for more than $400,000 [than ever before]. Only 300 were produced, and approximately 50 to 60 percent are accounted for today. Every true Corvette collection should have at least one!
Dana Mecum: This is where it all began. Corvette Serial No. 003 is the oldest surviving Corvette and was the third to roll off the production line during the marque's first year of production. This Car gives enthusiasts a rare glimpse into the earliest history of America's sports Car.
Ian Kelleher: When it comes to classic American sports Cars, the No. 003 Convertible holds an important place in Vette history. Completely hand-built and well-documented, its significance has been recognized by a number of important accolades, including Bloomington Gold, Corvette Hall of Fame, and NCRS Duntov awards. For Corvette hobbyists, its sale in 2006 presented a very rare opportunity to acquire one of the marque's earliest examples, as evidenced by the high sale price.
Car: '63 Corvette Z06 Gulf One Racer
Sold By: Mecum Auction (January 2009)
Terry L. Michaelis: It's a great historical race Car, and the driver was present at the auction. Great presentation equals great results on this one.
Dana Mecum: The Gulf One is probably the most desirable '63 Z06 of all, because it is the most successful factory-backed production-racing Corvette of the C2 era-also campaigned by Dr. Dick Thompson-and represents the single most dramatic advancement in the history of production Corvette performance at that time. The Gulf One was the first of many things, but probably the most noteworthy is that it was the first Car prepared with advanced race technology developed specifically for the Z06 and later adapted for use on the prototype Grand Sports, leading the way for Corvette development.
Ian Kelleher: A factory-built Z06 is considered one of the most desirable Corvettes available. Add to that an impressive history and race heritage, and this example's position on this significant-sales list is clearly established. Widely considered one of the most desirable '63 Z06s, and the most successful factory-backed production-racing Corvette of the C2 era, this Car was the first of two examples delivered by Yenko Chevrolet to the Gulf Oil racing team. In addition, it is believed to have been the first Car prepared with advanced race technology developed specifically for the Z06. Another Vette successfully campaigned by Dr. Dick Thompson, it has a great racing pedigree, holding the title as having participated in more races in more venues than any other of its kind. Eric Gill perhaps describes the Car's significance best, describing it as, "one of the half dozen most desirable American Cars of the post-war era."
Category 2: Majority Rules
(Listed in order of sales price.) Requirement: Two out of three of our experts picked these Corvettes as "a most significant sale in the last decade."
Car: '63 Grand Sport (No. 2)
Price: Undisclosed ($5 million estimated)
Sold By: RM Auctions through private sale
Terry L. Michaelis: Fell short of RM Auctions' reserve, but within months it sold privately for approximately $5 million.
Ian Kelleher: The Corvette Grand Sport is one of the greatest American racing Cars and quite possibly one of the most historically significant American-built race-bred automobiles ever produced. Often referred to as one of the most fascinating enigmas in motor racing annals, and certainly one of the most valuable, the Grand Sport was General Motors' contender to Ford's venerable Shelby Cobra. Envisioned by legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus-Duntov, these top-secret, hand-built race Cars were designed to win at FIA endurance races and ultimately the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only five were built out of an expected 120-Car run before GM cancelled its competition activities in early 1963. Miraculously, each of the prototypes escaped destruction orders, falling into the hands of private racers who preserved their heritage for future generations. Previously owned by Roger Penske and George Wintersteen, this example-chassis No. 002-is one of just two roadsters produced out of the original five prototypes.
The offering of No. 002 at RM's 2009 Arizona sale represented a rare opportunity for Corvette hobbyists, as it was considered the most important and significant Corvette ever to be offered for sale publicly. It reached a high bid of $4,900,000 on the auction podium before selling privately soon after for an undisclosed sum.