Its recent vintage-racing provenance has completely eclipsed whatever original period history the car might have had


By the mid-1960s, Corvettes powered by the immortal 327-c.i. Chevrolet V8 were regular national winners in the Sports Car Club of America's B-Production class. This storied 1966 coupe had just such an early history, as Texan Dan Hines ran it in SCCA SW division races at Texas International Speedway and other tracks.

In the early 1980's, Hines decided to sell the old warrior, by now fitted with fender flares, a big block engine, wide wheels and other SCCA-allowed modifications. Bill Zeiring, a friend of the current owner, purchased the coupe with a view to restoring it for historic racing. The ugly flares were removed and the body was returned to the stock configuration. Blackhawk Engineering built up a race-spec 327, with a Holley four-barrel carb and Hooker headers. A new aluminum radiator, 42-row oil cooler, and road-racing oil pan were added, as was a close-ratio Muncie four-speed transmission.

Zeiring then sent the car to Corvette guru Dick Guldstrand, who installed his own brake and suspension parts and set up the suspension for road racing. American Racing "Torque Thrust" wheels and Goodyear "Blue Streak" racing tires completed the transformation, and the Corvette was now ready for a second racing career.

The current owner purchased the Corvette Coupe from Zeiring in 1986 and entered it in the Monterey Historics the following August. For the next 15 years, "Thumper" (as this coupe was now nicknamed) has been a regular fixture in West Coast historic racing.

In 1987, it was awarded Steve Earle's "Spirit of Vintage Racing" trophy during the Sears Point Wine Country Classic. When Corvette was named as the featured marque at the 2002 Monterey Historics, "Thumper" won the B-Production race, defeating a strong field of Cobras, Shelbys, Ferraris, and a host of other Corvettes. Adding to the achievement, this car was awarded the 2002 Rolex "Presentation and Performance" award.

Racing newcomer or veteran, this HMSA-legal Corvette is worthy of a determined purchase consideration.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1959 MG A

This 1966 Corvette Coupe sold for $88,000, including buyer’s premium, at the RM Auction in Phoenix, AZ, on Jan. 23, 2004.

If we’re willing to believe that this auction result represents a trend, vintage racing, what was originally an honor to the past, has begun creating a valuable history of its own.

“Thumper” brings up a series of issues important to assessing the values of vintage race cars:

1. What makes a car “real” versus a “bitsa” or even a replica?
This varies depending on the marque you’re dealing with. On one extreme would be Ferrari, where an incorrect number (per the factory records) stamped on the transaxle of a 1954 Monza is considered a serious blemish on the car’s authenticity. On the other pole would be, well. Corvette.

This Corvette Coupe is presented as-and generally accepted as-the car that was raced by Dan Hines in Texas in the late ’60s. But how much of this car, as it sits now, actually saw the Chevrolet assembly line in 1966? Read the auction catalog carefully: From the description, the frame and probably the center cockpit bodywork are the only components I’d expect to “carbon date” as older than the mid-1980s. (And of course the title, which is a very big deal.)

I’m not saying that this is bad-for a car of this sort, it’s common. The important thing is to understand that the expectations of the market for vintage race cars is different depending on the type of car you are looking at.

2. How much value can be assigned to a car’s provenance?
This Corvette is a perfect example to examine how the market values racing history. An authentic old race car with a real history, it sold for $88,000. I know a West Coast supplier of vintage racing Corvettes who can find a core and build you a nearly identical mid-1960s, HMSA-legal Corvette for about $55,000-$65,000, depending, of course, on the level of chrome, paint, and geegaws desired.

So for about sixty grand, you could have a car identical to Thumper, except for the history. This, in turn, tells us that somebody chose to assign approximately a $28,000 value to this car’s provenance alone.

3. The third issue is what kind of history matters these days. Now that some cars have been racing in “historic” events for far longer than they were ever campaigned in period, which is more important, the original racing provenance or the vintage racing one?

This Coupe clearly didn’t do anything great in period. Twenty years ago, it was just an old Corvette that somebody in Texas raced for a while. Today its significant history is that for the last 17 years, it has been an active and well-known HMSA (read: Monterey Historics) vintage race car. That’s what somebody bought.

So what can we conclude from all this? It should be interesting to collectors that here we have a vintage-racing provenance that has completely eclipsed whatever period provenance the car might have had. More significantly, this “new” provenance is apparently worth something: In this case, about a third of the value of the car.-Thor Thorson

Comments are closed.