Chassis number: 00867S104420
George Reed of Illinois was a gentleman racer in the traditional sense of the term — wealthy, commanding and fi ercely competitive. By the late 1950s, he had already made a name for himself as a driver with strong fi nishes at Sebring, Nassau, Cumberland, Road America, Watkins Glen and Wilmot Hills.
In addition to his racing exploits, Reed was the owner of RRR Motors in Homewood, IL. RRR was not only a distributor for Ferraris, Alfa Romeos and Goodyear racing tires, it was the name of a racing club that George started in the 1950s. The acronym stood for “Reed’s Race Rats.”
By the late 1950s, RRR Motors was competing in the premier American road racing events. Although George was typically behind the wheel of a Ferrari, he yearned for success in other categories. In 1960, he found a perfect contender in the Chevrolet Corvette.
Around that time, Reed contacted Nickey Chevrolet and ordered this RPO 687 race-optioned Corvette specifically for the upcoming 12 Hours of Sebring. The car arrived in the first week of March, shortly before the race. Nickey’s legendary engine builder Ronnie Kaplan was put to the task of creating a rock-solid engine that could withstand the rigors of the punishing 12-hour race.
The car had made its way to Florida, where Reed enlisted renowned Corvette engineer Zora Arkus- Duntov, who was there merely as a spectator, to help with final race preparation. With his guidance, the suspension tuning was completed the morning of the race. The “Race Rat” took First in Class (GT-14) and an admirable 16th overall. The car finished the grueling race in 12 hours, 2 minutes and 30 seconds at an average speed of over 72 mph — impressive numbers for what was a heavily modified production sports car. Of the six Corvettes entered, this was the only one to finish in the top 25.
After the race, this very special Corvette passed through the hands of two owners before it settled with John Jurecic in 1962. He gave the car a more discreet appearance so it could be used on the street, and he enjoyed it for a number of years before selling it to his good friend Randall Krystosek in 1965.
Eventually, Krystosek could no longer contain his curiosity about his car’s early racing history and contacted Corvette authority Nolan Adams. After a thorough inspection, Adams found a number of unique features that distinguished the car from an ordinary street Corvette. The car was found to have an unusual high-performance generator, special fuel injection, the rare 5½-inch wheels and the “A” designation on the build number indicating an LPO (Limited Production Option) 24-gallon fuel tank. Krystosek retained the car until 2004, when a noted California collector acquired it. During the next few years, the Corvette was carefully researched and restored to its original racing colors. After it had been disassembled and the paint stripped for restoration, it was discovered that all the original factory and RRR Motors markings were still intact, and certain areas where racing parts had been installed were clearly visible.
|Vehicle:||1960 Chevrolet Corvette Race Rat|
|Number Produced:||119 (RPO 687)|
|Original List Price:||$5,346|
|Tune Up Cost:||$200|
|Chassis Number Location:||VIN plate on top of instrument panel at base of windshield|
|Engine Number Location:||Pad on front of block below right cylinder head|
|Club Info:||National Corvette Restorers Society, 6291 Day Road, Cincinnati, OH, 45252|
|Alternatives:||1964 Shelby Cobra 260, 1957 Ford Thunderbird “Battlebird,” 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger convertible|
This car, Lot 44, sold for $440,000, including buyer’s premium, at Gooding & Company’s Amelia Island auction on March 9, 2012.
Like the American Dream itself, Chevrolet’s best racing technology was available to anyone with the desire to race and the money to do so. Sebring 1960 was a perfect example. With everyone’s focus on Briggs Cunningham’s well-publicized assault of Le Mans that year, little attention was paid to the 12 Hours of Sebring. It would take a privateer like George Reed to carry the Corvette’s torch in this event, and he did so admirably.
A global race contender
For the price of a well-optioned Cadillac, George Reed purchased a racing Corvette with all the right pieces — right from the factory.
Building a ready-to-race Corvette in 1960 was as easy as selecting the right options on the order form. The key options were the 290-hp fuel-injected engine (Regular Production Order 579D) and the heavy-duty brake/quick steering package (RPO 687). The fuelinjected engine required the 4-speed manual transmission (RPO 685). RPO 687 required the Positraction rear axle (RPO 675) and included 15 x 5½ steel wheels (RPO 276), “dog dish” chrome hubcaps, larger fi nned brake drums and metallic brake shoes, and 6.70 x 15 blackwall tires. The rare, special-order 24-gallon fuel tank required the optional fi berglass hard top. All these options combined made an otherwise pedestrian Corvette into a strong competitor for its era.
The one thing lacking in a privateer’s efforts was the knowledge and experience of GM’s engineers, but Zora Duntov, John Dolza, and others would often help these teams, at least in an unofficial capacity.
Still, the “Race Rat” Corvette’s standing at the end of the 12 Hours of Sebring was certainly remarkable. It’s all the more remarkable considering the pounding a race car takes at this converted wartime airfi eld-turned-racetrack — long straightaways that can destroy the toughest engine. The tight, fl at, 90-degree turns are merciless to brakes, and the rough, weathered tarmac can break any suspension. A friend who wrenched American Le Mans Series cars tells me that 12 hours at Sebring is far more demanding on a vehicle than 24 hours at Daytona, or possibly even Le Mans itself. Yet George Reed’s nearly factorydelivered Corvette excelled.
One shining moment defines price
The “Race Rat” Corvette’s Sebring success elevates it above the typical SCCA Regional racer of the era — and those can sell for around $275k–$300k, depending on their options, condition and race history.
But the Race Rat’s lack of other race history aside from the Sebring fi nish, and the fact that legendary Corvette drivers, such as Dr. Dick Thompson, never sat behind the wheel, limit its value to collectors, despite its originality and volumes of documentation.
So, all things considered, I’d say $440k is about right for a Corvette that lived the American Dream, if only once. Well sold and bought