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Out of This World

Astronaut-Owned Corvette

Larry Jewett - January 20, 2014 09:00 AM

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Astronauts are, by their very nature a breed apart, but none more so than the seven pioneering men of the Mercury space program launched by NASA in 1959. Among the most famous of them was Lt. Colonel Virgil “Gus” Grissom, who on July 21, 1961, became the second American – after Alan Shepard – to travel to outer space. He became the first NASA astronaut to repeat that monumental feat in March 1965. Unfortunately,Grissom perished with his Apollo 1 colleagues Roger Chaffee and Edward White in a launch pad fire on January 27, 1967.
Like his fellow astronauts, Grissom was also adventurous on terra firma. Just before his death, he took delivery of this L71 427/435 HP Tri-Power convertible from Jim Rathmann Chevrolet in Melbourne, Florida. While no longer in its original color scheme, the Grissom Corvette has received a frame-off restoration and retains its original mechanical configuration that includes the L71 Tri-Power engine, 4-speed manual transmission and Positraction rear end. In addition to its Rally Red paint, White Stinger stripe and soft top and Red interior, it features a Soft Ray tinted windshield, power windows, a Teakwood steering wheel, headrests, AM/FM radio and Rally wheels with Redline tires. It has participated in several parades at Cape Kennedy. Extensively documented, the Gus Grissom Corvette is more than a highly desirable example of the class of the midyear field; it is a precious artifact from an historic era in 20th century American history.
The car is listed as Lot S176 and scheduled to be sold on January 25. Details are offered at www.mecum.com

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