Gus Grissom’s Corvette to Go Under the Hammer

On April 9th, 1959, NASA selected 7 lads for space exploration duties. Mostly referred to as Mercury Seven, the first wave of American astronauts included Alan Shepard (the guy that played golf on the Moon), Gus Grissom, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper and Deke Slayton.
Gus Grissom’s Corvette 11 photos
Photo: Mecum Auctions
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Today we won’t focus on their accomplishments in zero gravity, but the cars they drove. To put things as simply as possible, 6 of the 7 astronauts that made Project Mercury happen were awarded with Chevrolet Corvettes on special terms by Florida-based Cadillac-Chevrolet dealer Jim Rathmann.

The former Indy 500 winner mediated a big deal between the astronauts and GM, suppling each astronaut with a couple of vehicles on a yearly basis. In Alan Bean tells us that that most Astronaut Group 1 members opted for a family car and a Vette for themselves. But the races between Grissom and Shepard are the highlight of that publicity stunt.

See the little red Corvette in the gallery below? It’s a 1967 convertible previously owned by Gus

Expected to go for huge money at Mecum Auctions’ Austin, Texas event on December 12th, this bad boy is animated by an L71 427 (7-liter) Tri-Power big-block V8 with 435 horsepower on tap. Though the soft-top Vette on hand is extensively documented and in tip-top shape, but we have to highlight something.

That red exterior paint with the white stinger paint on the hood aren’t original, but everything else is, including the Rally wheels wrapped in Redline rubber. Furthermore, this VIP mobile comes with a four-speed manual and a Positraction rear end, desirable assets for collectors that also drive their beauties.

About the auction estimate... well, Gus was the second American to fly into space when he was aboard the Liberty Bell 7 in 1961. Moreover, the astronaut was the second person to fly in space twice, when he joined John W. Young in 1965 on Gemini 3. With such pedigree, do expect this C2 to fetch over $300k.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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