Factory-Built: 1960 Chevrolet Corvette “Race Rat”

Who remembers the 1960s when auto manufacturers were not only actively involved in racing but would build race cars as well? This 1960 Corvette is one of ten that Chevy built, and it was produced to run at the 12 Hours of Sebring. It has since been restored to race day form. It will be available here on Mecum and at Osceola Heritage Park for the Kissimmee, Florida auction in early January 2022.

As the story goes, this factory-prepared race car, a Corvette “Tanker,” was ordered through Nickey Chevrolet by racer and businessman George Reed of “Reed’s Race Rats” to compete in Sebring’s 12 Hour marathon that year. Reed specified RPO 687 heavy-duty brakes and special steering, RPO 579D 283 cubic inch/315 hp Rochester fuel-injected V8 engine, a 4-speed manual transmission, and heavy-duty RPO 276 15×5.5-inch wheels. Nickey’s people went to work and modified the 283 so it would produce a whopping  397 hp. Once the car got to Sebring, Corvette brainchild Zora Arkus-Duntov himself helped ready the machine for competition.

How successful were all these interactions? Well, drivers Bill Fritts and Chuck Hall took turns in the car and the “Race Rat” (as it was dubbed) took First in Class (GT14) and placed 16th overall with a time of 12 hours, 2 minutes, and 30 seconds, running an average speed of 72 mph. What may have helped this Corvette turn in the performance it did was that the car came from the factory with LPO (Limited Production Option) 1625A, a 24-gallon fuel tank designed by Arkus-Duntov to reduce the frequency of pit stops.

Painstakingly restored, this car has won several non-racing awards, including the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, NCRS Heritage Award, and Greenwich Concours d’Elegance. It’s being offered for auction out of the John Custo Collection, which includes several other ‘Vettes and a ’67 Shelby GT500. Do any of our readers care to hazard a projection as to what the car may sell for?

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Comments

  1. flmikey

    Well, maybe at the low end of 7 figures…1.5, 1.7 million…the car is stunning, but it is a car that will just be stared at, and not driven, IMHO…great find, Russ!

    Like 2
  2. bobhess bobhess Member

    It would be fun to put on the track again but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m betting on a museum or private collection for this one.

    Like 7
  3. George Mattar

    Has Rick Hendrick written all over it. It will pushed into a climate controlled cocoon and then to Barrett Jackson in 2026. History, but a completely useless car.

    Like 6
  4. jo6pac

    It should be raced. They’re cars worth millions more that race reunion events in the US and Europe.

    Like 12
    • RSparks

      I agree, if you can afford the car you can bear the risk of driving it. It deserves to at least be driven at a nostalgia race. If Rick Hendrick or some other old racer puts a few dings in the value will likely increase because of the dings anyway.

      Like 3
    • RSparks

      If someone can afford to buy this car they can bear the risk of a few dings and scratches. If someone like Rick Hendrick dings it that will likely increase the value anyway. It’s a race car that deserves to at least be in a nostalgia event. RACE IT!!

      Like 3
  5. Frank Sumatra

    Someday you guys will understand there were no “Factory-built” Corvette racers. Nickey Chevrolet, Don Yenko, et al, were not GM/Chevrolet sponsored. Obviously GM and Chevrolet were very “helpful” in making sure the right parts got into the right hands, and Mr.Duntov seemed to take a lot of vacations in Sebring, Daytona Beach, Pikes Peak and Nassau, but none of that stuff was sanctioned by GM during the AMA Racing ban era.

    Like 7
    • Bick Banter

      I don’t think they’re saying that. This is 1 of 10 with the LPO 1625A 24-gallon fuel tank, so it was meant to be turned into a racer, as this one was.

      Like 4
      • Frank Sumatra

        Even the placard shown on the Mecum page has it wrong. And you have it right. I f you knew what RPO to pick, and the dealer would order it for you, you could go racing.

        Like 4
    • Joe

      Six 1956 SR1race cars built at the St.Louis Plant. Others at Engineering in Warren, Mi.

  6. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Man, sometimes I see a car like this and I just wistfully transport back to the late 50s early 60s when American muscle was just beginning to really really flex, and it was ballz to the wall with ‘let’s see what we can do’

    What a time in automotive history

    Like 11
  7. DRV

    When I saw that the RPO fast steering was an extended center pivot point on these I thought tractor. It would be great to see this racing.

    Like 5
    • Frank Sumatra

      “Tractor” is not far off for a 1960 Corvette going racing. But you have to love the folks driving them. They were like ground-based astronauts with their need for speed. Especially knowing the brakes would be useless after the first five laps and they handled like something made in Peoria.

      Like 4
    • DRV

      The reason I know is from trying to recover from a turn too fast in my ’58. The frame and suspension are basically a ’53 Chevy .

      Like 3
      • Frank Sumatra

        You are much braver than most of us. A tip of the hat to you.

  8. bog

    I took a drive past the site of the “World’s Largest Chevrolet Dealer” today. Believe it or not, a multi-story Toyota dealership now sits there. Anyway, yes I remember reading about these cars and others during those days, and all the claimed “no factory support of racing” BS. Same thing was happening in “real” NASCAR here in America. Europe had different issues…manufacturers pulling out after spectator carnage at various tracks. Sadly, it seemed that a favorite Formula 1 driver was dying every couple weeks….took a very long time to rectify that !

    Like 4
  9. bobhess bobhess Member

    Frank…. Sanctioned is one thing, donating or selling race car parts is another. Glad they did it myself. Really turned up the racing quality with good cars.

    Like 3
  10. bobhess bobhess Member

    bog.. Sure right on the F1 comments. We watched Mark Donahue win the Transam championship in ’70 at Sonoma. Mid ’70s in Europe we went to the Nurenburgring F1 race and the very next race Mark got killed in a crash. Kinda takes the fun out of it. Love all the safety stuff in racing today.

    Like 5
    • bog

      bobhess – Agree again. Watching F1 again this weekend, and though not a “fan” of the HALO, as you can barely even see drivers helmet, it’s obviously saved guys over past two years. Certainly not true while I lived in Europe…Jim Clark died while I was there, and I cried over his loss. I’m sure all current drivers should be thanking Sir Jackie Stewart !

  11. CeeOne

    Saw a 59 quite similar to this one at Lime Rock:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sT_pI_eiKrY

    And then this highly modified “59” at the same track

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4uVQ9TDQIo&t=95s

    Like 3
  12. A.J.

    Boy, I sure hope whoever buys this has the balls to take it to a vintage race or two.

    Like 1
  13. dougiejak Member

    I’ll bet it ends up vintage racing. If someone can drive a Ferrari testarossa, which I saw at Sonoma, then someone can drive this.

    Like 2
  14. dougie Member

    I’ll bet it ends up vintage racing. If someone can drive a Ferrari testarossa( I’ve seen it multiple times, including Sonoma) then someone can drive this.

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