Developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov, the Grand Sport was developed as a lightweight race car aimed at the Shelby Cobra. The secret program was canceled as soon as GM executives found out about it and only five cars were built. Come 2022 and the Grand Sport is one of the most coveted and valuable Corvettes ever built.
Then there's the Z06, a higher-performance variant of the C2. Much like the Grand Sport, the Z06 was also conceived by Duntov against GM's ongoing support of the AMA ban on factory racing involvement. Aimed at competition-minded customers, the Z06 was a bundle of performance upgrades that included a larger front anti-roll bar, vacuum brake booster, cooled brakes, and a stiffer suspension.
The package also included a bigger 36.5-gallon (138-liter) gas tank that replaced the regular 20-gallon (76-liter) unit. Added for longer endurance races at Daytona and Sebring, the oversized tank was discontinued shortly after its introduction. Of the 199 Z06s sold in 1963, only the first 63 cars got one.
There's no precise info as to how many survived, but these C2 "Big Tanks" are extremely hard to come by. And they're also inconspicuous, so they're also tough to spot at car shows. Except for the white example you see here, which boasts a race-inspired livery.
Showcased at the 2022 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN), this first-year Z06 "Tanker" is one of the very few examples of years of hard racing. Yes, it was restored to its original specifications a few years ago, but it's still highly original and has an authentic oversized tank to brag about.
In addition, it still relies on its 327-cubic-inch (5.4-liter) L84 "Fuelie" V8 and sports a fabulous leather interior in gold. And here's another thing that makes it more valuable than the "regular" 1963 Z06: this car was driven by A.J. Foyt for a few practice laps at Laguna Seca. And, of course, because it's a 1963 Corvette, it also has the desirable rear split window.
So how much is a "Big Tank" like this worth today? Well, examples in fair condition are valued at almost $500,000 according to Hagerty. The same broker claims that Concours-ready units can fetch up to $1.1 million. For reference, a pristine 1963 Corvette of the regular variety barely hits $200,000. It's amazing how a handful of extra features and a bigger tank can blow up a classic car's sticker, isn't it?