Courtesy of Mecum Auctions
  • Yenko Stinger YS043
  • One of 100 produced
  • Previously owned and raced by Jim Schardt of Ohio
  • Campaigned on the SCCA circuit in the 1970s
  • One of the most successful Yenko Stinger race cars
  • Later sold to actor Tim Allen, who kept the car for more than 15 years
  • Engine and transmission recently rebuilt by Yenko Stinger mechanic Warren Dernoshek
  • Roll cage with inspection stickers
  • Documentation from when it was raced, and vintage photos included

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa Yenko Stinger
Years Produced:1966–69
Number Produced:100 COPO cars (plus 25 1967 and one 1969 Yenko cars and 33 known authorized conversions by other dealers)
Original List Price:$3,278.53
SCM Valuation:$147,400
Tune Up Cost:$250
Chassis Number Location:GM issued VIN, driver’s side engine compartment frame rail near the battery well. YS number plate is screwed to the driver’s door pillar
Alternatives:1965–66 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa, 1962–64 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder, 1970–72 Chevrolet Corvette LT-1 or ZR-1
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot F21, sold for $74,800, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s Kissimmee, FL, auction on January 3, 2020. It was offered with no reserve.

Don Yenko was a second-generation Chevrolet dealer in western Pennsylvania with a keen interest in road-course racing. While he had success in campaigning Corvettes in SCCA beginning in 1957, by 1965 he was becoming an also-ran behind the Shelby Cobras and GT350s. Eventually, he “got tired of looking at the rear bumper of Mark Donohue’s Mustang.”

He was a Chevrolet guy, and he felt there was only one model of theirs in 1965 that he could build into a proper road-course car: the Corvair.

What it lacked in brute power out of the box it made up for in superb handling, with a fully independent rear suspension that featured four U-joint half shafts that by that time had replaced the early-model swing-axle design. The power problem was solved as well — Yenko offered these cars in four stages of tuning up to 240 hp.

Don certainly wasn’t a stranger to short-run production, having marketed accessories and doing race prep for Corvettes at his dealership. Yet to make his track-focused Corvair SCCA legal (as they ruled the stock 1965–66 models “sedans” for classification), he needed to make at least 100 Stingers before the 1966 calendar year to be homologated.

So in November 1965, after creating the division “Yenko Sportscars Inc.,” Don placed a fleet order through Chevy’s Central Office Production Order (COPO) group for 100 Corvair Corsas. This was a huge leap of faith, as the dealership had averaged about 190 new vehicle sales a year to that point.

Yenko’s COPO cars

All 100 were ordered in white with black interiors, equipped with the base Corsa 140-hp engine, optional F41 heavy-duty suspension, M20 4-speed, N44 quick-ratio steering, plus the two “options” that made them unique from all other ’66 Corvairs: dual-master-cylinder brakes (sourced from Cadillac) and a 3.89 Positraction differential (roughly half were fitted with 3.55s due to parts availability).

The cars arrived in mid-December, and Yenko’s team scrambled to get them all converted to Stinger specifications. SCCA certified the car for D-Production class — the same class Triumph’s TR4 was dominating. It wasn’t where Yenko wanted them to be, but at least the cars were SCCA race eligible. And race they did, as a constant force in D-production into the 1980s.

The lessons Yenko learned in the Stinger homologation program translated into success in his future products — namely the 1967–69 S/C Camaro, 1969 Chevelle 427 and 1970 Deuce Nova.

In addition, 25 Monzas were fleet-ordered for a 1967 Stinger production run (as both the Corsa and the quad-carbureted 140-hp engine were dropped that year). Yenko also licensed dealerships to convert Corvairs, in addition to selling later YS tags to allow regular Corvairs to run in SCCA D-Production. None of these cars were COPOs.

A visible racer

Our example — YS043 — is well known, and not just in Yenko Stinger and Corvair circles. Short of Jay Leno’s YS054 that is all over the Interweb, this example is probably the one that most folks have seen in the paint and steel. Painted to resemble Jerry Thompson’s 1967 SCCA National Championship car, it raced successfully in SCCA until the early 1980s and then on the vintage circuit — and not just with Tim Allen, but with its other owners as well.

Therein lies a lot of the appeal of the Stinger. Even the ones that have been restored to concours condition tend to hit the track to show their mettle. This is a far cry from the subsequent Yenko muscle cars, which now seem to mostly be well-heeled man-cave ornaments.

Since Corvair engines didn’t have a partial VIN stamped on them (just the usual Chevy plant/date/configuration code) until 1968, a “non-numbers-matching” engine isn’t as much of a value killer in a Stinger as it is in a muscle car. There are a handful of Stingers that have their original engines, but most have at the very least been rebuilt. One plus here is YS043’s engine and transmission, which were recently rebuilt by the original crew chief for the Yenko team.

Coveted Stinger

Original COPO homologation cars make up the largest group of Stingers, but a significant number of wrecked and rusted cars have been reborn with their YS number plates moved to other cars. And like SAAC, the keepers of the flame have generally kept track of Stingers that have been swapped and those that are still whole. YS043 is one of the whole Stingers, and it still presents very well and is race-ready.

I last saw this car in person when it crossed the block at Mecum’s Spring Classic at Indy last year, then failing to sell on a $90k final bid (ACC# 6902267). As a number 3+ condition car, I felt that bid was on the high side, but at the time, that was becoming the nature of the beast.

The cheap Corvair enthusiast in me still thinks this was plenty of money, but the reality is that this was a market-correct sale at Kissimmee. It’s a good bet we’ll see it once again drifting through Canada Corner at Road America or winding through the Corkscrew at Laguna Seca. That is, after all, where these cars shine.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)

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