Today marks the 51st anniversary of the first US human space flight, so it seems appropriate to talk about America’s space heros. As a perk for being heros, the astronauts were given Corvettes on $1/year leases by Jim Rathman’s GM dealership in Florida. One of those Corvettes, a 1967 Sting Ray which was used by Neil Armstrong, has surfaced from a decades-long slumber in a basement garage in Florida. Find it here on eBay in Merritt Island, Florida with bidding at an astonishing quarter million and the reserve still not met!
From the bidding interest it’s clear that the association with the first man on the moon has added massive value. This Sting Ray is in tough shape with blotched body repairs and neglect. The car shows only 38k miles on the odometer but looks like it was driven to the Moon and then put away wet… or real dusty, anyway. The real issue is, since the astronauts had so many different Corvettes at different times in their careers, if there is any real evidence linking this car to Armstrong? If not, the true value of the car would be a fraction of the current bid price. Unless of course the firewall is coated in that gold foil they use on spaceships.
The seller states that he tried to buy the car during a 30+ year period from a former NASA employee who had purchased the car when Armstrong returned it to the dealership after using it for a year. The NASA man refused for decades, but finally sold the car in February of this year. The seller provides some details on the purchase along with claims that the warranty book and Protect-O-Plate have Armstrong’s name on them.
There is one photo included in the eBay listing that shows Armstrong’s name together with the car’s VIN, but it’s not clear what document is being shown in this photo. There is also a film clip showing the astronauts arriving at the Space Center in their Corvettes, including Armstrong in his Stingray coupe (at minute 2:26), but it’s dated 1965, 2 years earlier than this Sting Ray’s production date. Unfortunately, there seems to be no good photographic documentation of Armstrong with this particular Corvette.
So is this really the Armstrong car? The answer is a clear ‘probably’, but be sure to bring a C2 Corvette expert with when you examine the car and hope that the paperwork confirms that it was Armstrong’s back in ’67. Or, since Neil Armstrong is still alive and living in Ohio, perhaps you should just call and to ask him yourself. With success in linking this car directly to him, you could own a Corvette with one of the most significant ownership histories ever. Just be sure to bring plenty of cash…