Gus Grissom's Corvette Roadster consigned to Scottsdale auction



2015-06-26 13:07:11

Gus Grissom's Corvette Roadster consigned to Scottsdale auction

The 'brass hat' 1967 Corvette Roadster was supplied to astronaut Gus Grissom by GM

Arizona-based auction house Russo and Steele has just consigned astronaut Gus Grissom's 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster to its forthcoming Scottsdale auction, which will be held January 16-20.

Gus Grissom Chevrolet Corvette Roadster Grissom and the Mercury Seven astronauts "would often tear up the roads around Melbourne, Florida" according to the auction house

Providing an exciting opportunity for space memorabilia and classic car collectors, the car was supplied to Grissom by Florida Chevrolet dealer and 1960 Indy 500 champion, Jim Rathmann. It came as part of the Chevrolet Corvette "brass hat" program, which was first approved by general manager Ed Cole in the early 1960s.

The term "brass hat" refers to a special, modified car given to a high-profile figure in recognition of their position and to boost the profile of the company.

Virgil I "Gus" Grissom was one of the most famous of all NASA astronauts, having been one of the original Mercury Seven and the first American to travel into space twice. He was killed during the tragic Apollo 1 pre-launch test, along with two other astronauts involved in the mission.

As well as a "thundering" 435-hp Turbo-Jet 427 engine, Grissom ordered several factory options for his Corvette, including F41 Heavy Duty suspension, M21 close-ratio four-speed transmission, off-road exhaust and the 4.56:1 rear end, which gave him the edge in acceleration over Alan Shepard -a fellow Mercury Seven astronaut and recipient of a "brass hat" Corvette.

The Roadster was originally sold back to Jim Rathmann following Grissom's death by his wife, Betty. After several subsequent owners, it received a high-quality restoration that resulted in it winning the NCRS Top Flight honours in 1989.

It was also part of the motorcade that welcomed the returning crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1988, and in 1993 itformed part of the celebrations commemorating the Gemini Program.

You can find more previews of the most exciting lots at Scottsdale in our Classic Cars news section. To see the results of the auction and exclusive investment advice, sign up to our free weekly newsletter.

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