At the Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 23-31 we will have the rare opportunity to feast our eyes on all sorts of classic and late-model collectible cars. With many of the world’s biggest collectors in one place it is no surprise that the auction stage is graced by top-tier Corvettes. Here are the top three awe-inspiring Chevrolet Corvettes to watch out for as they go under the gavel.
The Purple People Eater
The famous 1959 Corvette Purple People Eater MKIII that single-handedly terrorized the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) circuit for an entire year, is the first car on our list. Piloted by Jim Jeffords, with Ronnie Kaplan cranking on the car, it won every B/Production class race it was entered except the last.
Built by the legendary Nickey Chevrolet of Chicago, a notorious dealership that would modify any car off the showroom floor in any manner the owner requested. Shipped directly from Chevy as a body in white with black interior it received an off-the-wall purple paint job and a 290 hp fuel-injected 283i V8, 4-speed manual, and other racing-oriented goodness.
After being sold in 1961 it was repainted and raced for couple a of years before disappearing, until it resurfaced in 1974 at a swap meet. Chip Miller and Ken Heckert bought the car for the sum of $800, apparently not knowing it was the famed Purple People Eater. It was again raced for a few years before being parked for 14 years and used as a makeshift coffee table. After discovering the historical significance of the car, Chip bought Ken’s half of the car and restored the Corvette to its former racing glory.
The “Entombed” Corvette
In 1959, Richard Sampson an eccentric yet successful grocery store chain owner, decided that the best place for his Polo White 1954 Corvette was inside a brick-and-motor vault. With only 2,335 miles on the odometer, and construction underway at his newest store in Brunswick, Maine, Richard had the construction workers encase the car where it was to remain entombed until the year 2000.
With his passing in 1969 the future of the “Entombed” Corvette’s fate was unknown. In 1982, the building was bought by local auto dealer Frank Goodwin, who made the stipulation that the car must be removed by the end of the existing lease in 1986.
Brick by brick the wall that sealed this long-forgotten timepiece was removed under the watchful eye of Richard’s daughter, Cynthia. As a result of remaining undisturbed for 37 years, the moisture of the brick vault blistered the paint and turned it from white to yellow. The original tires (that still retain air), convertible top, and the whole interior all remained in remarkably good condition.
The car was then shipped to Cynthia’s Daytona Beach, Florida home and parked in the living room in honor of her father for the next 10 years. After being acquired by a Corvette collector, the car made its first public appearance in the Bloomington Gold Special Collection in Springfield, Illinois in 1996. According to Barrett-Jackson this amazing piece of Corvette history still has the 2,335 miles displayed on the odometer.
A Stunning L88
The L88 is one of the most sought after Corvettes known to man, and this one of 116 for the production year of 1969 (the last year of the L88) is a perfect example of why it would be the prized possession of any collector.
This custom-ordered LeMans Blue L88 Corvette was supposed to be delivered to the son of a wealthy Kentucky tobacco family who refused the car upon delivery due to personal matters. The car eventually ended up in Tennessee. In 1977 Brian Cooper, a promoter of the Knoxville Corvette Expo, bought the car and sold it to Corvette authority Paul Kitchen.
Brian and Paul carefully removed the gas tank to retrieve the tank sticker, essentially a build manifest declaring vital information about the car as it made its way down the assembly line at the factory including the order number, all the RPO codes, and so on. In 1987, the car and the build manifest were reunited, since the sticker remained in Pauls possession, even after he sold the car. After changing hands again the L88 was hidden out of sight in storage for the next 25 years.
Robert Gibson, the guru of Corvette restorations, was given the chance to perform a full frame-off restoration in 2012 that totaled out to 5,100 hours of painstaking work. With a build span lasting 19 months, this stunning L88 employed the use of many restored original components and a few NOS-implemented parts in the final product, resulting in a 98.1 Top Flight NCRS score.
Make sure to check out all the awesome Corvettes that Barrett-Jackson has to offer and comment on your favorite Corvette below.