Who Owns This Cunningham Corvette?

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Howard Coombs

At this writing, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee is set to auction off the ownership rights — whatever they might be — of Dan Mathis Jr. in regards to 1960 Corvette VIN 00867S103535.

This car is one of the legendary Cunningham Corvettes — one of the three that competed at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The current bid of $25,000 was made by Mathis’s partners. Whether the auction will actually take place is yet to be determined, as Mathis still has time to appeal the Bankruptcy Court ruling that ordered the sale.

If the sale is completed, the winning bidder won’t know if he or she has acquired any part of the ownership of this Corvette — but the winner will be buying into a very expensive lawsuit.

A checkered past

Chevrolet was unable to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1960 because of its participation in the American manufacturers’ racing ban. So Chevrolet gave “informal” assistance to privateer Briggs Cunningham, who entered three Corvettes in the Sarthe classic.

The Corvettes were numbered 1, 2 and 3. Car 1, raced by Cunningham and William Kimberley, and Car 2 both failed to finish. Car 3, driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman, finished 8th overall and first in class.

This was a very impressive showing, but period racers were not terribly nostalgic about these cars. Upon return to the U.S., Cunningham decommissioned all three Corvettes, sold them as street machines, and they disappeared.

John Draneas

SCM Columnist

John practices law in the Portland, OR, suburb of Lake Oswego, where he focuses on tax and estate planning, business organizations and transactions, and representation of collector-car owners. He is a past president of the Oregon region of the Porsche Club of America and served as the chairman of the PCA’s 2006 parade. His collection includes two Porsches, a Ferrari, an Alfa, a Lotus, a BMW daily driver, a John Deere tractor — and one increasingly famous Jaguar E-type. This month’s “You Write, We Read” on p. 20 is full of SCMer advice on whether Draneas should restore his Jag.

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