After many years in retirement, Corvette Grand Sport racer Delmo Johnson was encouraged by some Texas friends to become involved in vintage racing. He acquired this, his last race car, around 1990 from his old friend John Mecom, an equally famous Texan.

The car began life in 1967 as a Sting Ray racer, and had a distinguished racing history, having been driven by the likes of Alan Sevadjian and finishing first at the 1979 SCCA Runoffs before being disqualified on a technicality. It later crashed at Road America in 1982 with Sevadjian at the wheel when the throttle stuck. Although it flipped many times, Alan emerged unscathed.

The car was rebuilt and prepared to 1974 IMSA and SCCA GT1 specifications without regard to cost. It has far too many competition upgrades to list, including a fuel cell, safety cage, adjustable suspension, fire-suppression system, and IMSA-legal wide-body configuration. The safety cage doubles as a chassis frame improvement that leaves the car many times stiffer than stock. Delmo says he wanted the car because it reminded him of the Grand Sports, and he knew no better car of its type existed.

The professionally built 366-ci Chevrolet cast-iron small-block engine is ready to race and has run less than one hour since completion. It is equipped with a forged steel crank, aluminum heads, cog belt-driven dry-sump lubrication system, and 750-cfm Holley carb. An all-synchromesh close-ratio Borg Warner Super T-10 aluminum-case transmission, limited-slip rear axle, aluminum radiator, oil, transmission, and power-steering coolers, competition gauges, and an onboard Halon fire system are also included. All accessories are state of the art, and the car is carefully prepared and is legal for three major vintage racing clubs. The legal weight is 2,850 pounds, equating to 4.22 lb/hp with the engine’s 675 horsepower.

The 1974 IMSA cars are the newest and among the fastest in vintage racing. This car will be supplied with signed testimony by Delmo Johnson and will be autographed by him if the purchaser desires.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1967/74 “Delmo Johnson” Race Car
Years Produced:1967
Number Produced:8,504
Original List Price:$40,000–$50,000
SCM Valuation:$40,000–$50,000
Tune Up Cost:$400–500
Distributor Caps:$25
Chassis Number Location:Cross brace under glovebox
Engine Number Location:On block in front of right cylinder head
Club Info:National Corvette Restorers Society
Alternatives:1963–67 Corvette, 1964–67 Sunbeam Tiger, 1965–66 Mustang K-code vintage racers
Investment Grade:C

This car sold for $44,000, including buyer’s premium, at Worldwide’s Houston Classic in Seabrook, Texas, on May 2, 2009.

This Corvette reminds me of the classified ad: “Lost dog: Has three legs, one testicle, half a tail, and no teeth. Answers to the name ‘Lucky.’” The fact that only one bidder stepped up to pay $44,000 for this fully prepared king-hell SCCA racer means there are serious questions about its provenance—or about mankind’s faith in Corvettes and vintage racing. While the Worldwide catalog clearly represents it as having started life as a 1967 Sting Ray that later morphed into this 1974-spec racer after a disastrous rollover accident, this is too wide a jump for most collectors.

The problem isn’t that this vehicle is a race car—in some cases that can be a definite plus. Rather, the trouble is that it started life as a mid-year Corvette of unknown description and then morphed into the less-well-regarded C3 for no apparent reason, except that someone wanted a Shark silhouette racer.

From an architectural standpoint, the 1963 through 1982 Corvettes were actually similar, so the transformation makes sense if you had a good race-prepped ’67 chassis with a trashed body, a penchant for the wild 1974 IMSA specifications, and a fiberglass wizard to bring it all together.

No substantive race history given

Anyway, those troubled waters have long since swirled under the bridge and, like it or not, today this vintage racer simply is what it is. Because little mention is made of any racing exploits except for the crash in Wisconsin and the DQ at the Runoffs—neither at Johnson’s hands—we can only assume that it was basically an also-ran in SCCA amateur racing during its volatile career.

But at $44,000, less than half its $80k–$120k estimate range, this beast was a decent buy, if you want thunderous noise, scare-your-pants-off performance, and to leave paddock groupies gaping as you Gumby yourself inside and hit the Start switch. Because the all-out racing Corvettes of the 1970s—best epitomized by John Greenwood’s line of wide-hipped IMSA missiles—were truly beasts of outrage, festooned with giant wheels, tires, and brakes, with huge flared fenders and elongated nose and tail sections serving as aerodynamic aids.

A quantum leap from the tastefully finished James Garner L88 (CM5, p. 28, sold at B&B Quail Lodge for $744k) of a few years before, they were the funny cars of sports car racing. Quite literally, the ’74 IMSA cars took production Corvettes as far as they could possibly go… and then a step beyond for good measure. However, this is apparently not one of them, but merely a later copy; according to Worldwide it was built up years later.

Looking at this car’s positives, it’s done up in an attractive blue and white paint scheme—America’s racing color combination back when pride in country was in fashion. It appears to be expertly fabricated and restored, with all of the necessary racing equipment present and accounted for, including an ice chest for your cool suit, which you’re probably going to need during every 20-minute lapping session in this hotbox. And the fact that the catalog photos were taken at an airport suggests that the seller is also into aviation, which means money is probably one of the languages in which he is fluent—and hopefully it was spoken often during the engine build, chassis preparation, and safety system installs.

Fair price, but what lies beneath the skin?

So this rebodied 1967 Corvette racer has a new home for what appears to be reasonable money. But the story is far from complete. Given the value of verifiable mid-year Corvette race cars nowadays—especially ones with decent history—one wonders what actually lies beneath the skin.

The catalog says the new owner would receive a bill of sale only, so presumably that means there is no title, and given the vulnerable location of a ’67 VIN (riveted beneath the glovebox, and also stamped atop the left-rear frame arch), there may be no numbers on this vehicle at all.

But here’s where the game of chance comes into play. What if this hodgepodge had actually started life as something really desirable, like a heater-delete or heavy-duty brake ’67 coupe with a viable race history? If we’re lucky, someone will let us know. And that kind of news could change this from a good buy to a steal

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