Lot #2: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 "Big Tank" Fuel-Injected Coupe (Not Available)
The Ex-Mickey Thompson
- Used when new by legendary, record-setting racer Mickey Thompson
- Verified as Mickey Thompson’s “daily driver” and promotional car
- Extremely rare as 1 of 63 N03 “Big Tank” 1963 Corvette Sting Ray coupes
- RPO Z06 racing option, L84 360-hp fuel-injected 327 V-8, Muncie M-20 4-speed
- Restored and presented in period appearance including lettering and Rader wheels
- Fascinating throughout; from the landmark introductory year of the Sting Ray
|Engine Number:||3106844 - F0104RF|
One of five fuel-injected, Z06 “Big Tank” Corvettes assigned by Chevrolet to legendary racer, team manager, and entrepreneur Mickey Thompson during 1962. Researched, confirmed, and documented by Corvette expert David Burroughs’ Prove It service as the personal “driver” of Mickey Thompson.
Specifications: 327 cu. in. RPO L84 V-8 engine, Rochester mechanical fuel-injection, 360 bhp @ 6,000 rpm, Muncie M-20 four-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension with front A-arms, coil springs, and anti-roll bar, independent rear suspension with half-shafts, lateral struts, radius rods, and single transverse leaf spring, and dual-circuit, power-assisted four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes with metallic linings. Wheelbase: 98"
Soon after its 1953 New York introduction, Chevrolet’s Corvette was infused with small-block V-8 power and tirelessly developed into a formidable racing contender that shattered speed records at Daytona Beach and utterly dominated SCCA production-class road racing during the late 1950s. A large part of this success was rooted in the growing pipeline of race-bred factory options developed by Zora Arkus-Duntov and his engineers, which made it possible to buy a virtual track-ready Corvette from the dealer showroom as early as 1957 with the new fuel-injection and competition brake and handling packages. Not even the 1957 AMA racing ban could blunt the Corvette’s charge and by 1960, it rose to international glory with a hard-won GT 5.0 class victory at Le Mans.
Upping the ante for 1963, the dramatic new second-generation Corvette Sting Ray was now available with a comprehensive racing option – the RPO Z06 “Special Equipment Package” – including most everything necessary for performance-minded buyers to obtain a virtually race-ready Corvette straight from the dealer floor. These race-bred updates distanced the Corvette far beyond most other production cars of the era and some would influence the design of similar industry-standard items years later. Based on fully-independent underpinnings, the new ‘Vette formed an outstanding basis for the race-bred RPO Z06 enhancements including a thicker front stabilizer bar, larger-diameter shock absorbers and higher-rate springs. Braking was improved with greater fade resistance from sintered metallic brake linings, while a dual-circuit master cylinder and vacuum booster enhanced safety and reduced pedal effort. Priced at $1,818, RPO Z06 cost nearly half as much as the basic Corvette coupe. Early in the 1963 model year, it was a coupe-only option, but later available for convertibles at a reduced cost. While attractive cast-aluminum “knock-off” wheels were initially available, they were somewhat porous and leaked air, resulting in the majority of Z06 cars being fitted on tried-and-true steel wheels. The large-capacity RPO N03 fiberglass 36-gallon fuel tank, initially available for Corvette coupes only, was available at $202 and tailor-made for endurance races to reduce the need for frequent pit stops. Just 63 Corvettes were so equipped.
Corvettes equipped with RPO Z06 were only available with Chevrolet’s high-winding RPO L84 327 cubic inch V-8 with 360 rated horsepower, courtesy of sophisticated Rochester mechanical fuel-injection, 11.0:1 compression, free-breathing cylinder heads, low-restriction exhaust, and a hot solid-lifter camshaft. A four-speed manual transmission and Positraction limited-slip rear end were mandatory options with RPO Z06. To reduce unnecessary weight, some Z06 Corvettes left the St. Louis factory with their radios deleted. Except for roll bars and fire extinguishers, Z06 Corvettes could virtually be driven to the track, lightly prepared, raced, and driven home.
All told, 2,610 Corvettes were equipped with the RPO (Regular Production Option) L84 “Fuelie” engine for 1963. Just 199 were equipped with the RPO Z06 “Special Performance Equipment” package, and only 63 were specified with the RPO N03 36-gallon long range fuel tank. This 1963 “Split-Window” Corvette Coupe is one of those precious few and it is even more special with confirmed and documented provenance as the “daily driver” of Corvette racing-team owner Mickey Thompson. Requiring virtually no introduction, Thompson was a lifelong Southern California hot rodder and one of professional racing’s greatest and most prolific innovators. He was also the “go-to” man for any American automobile manufacturer looking to raise its profile and sales through high-profile racing success. His achievements and life story could fill several volumes. From his invention of the revolutionary “slingshot” dragster in 1955, to smashing the wheel-driven land-speed record at 406 mph with his quad-Pontiac Challenger I streamliner in 1960, Thompson remains a legend who literally reinvented motorsports.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Mickey Thompson was one of a select few individuals given the opportunity to get an early preview of the new Corvette Sting Ray during 1962, along with Dan Gurney and Gulf Oil executive Grady Davis. Thompson, who forged a relationship with ex-Pontiac general manager “Bunkie” Knudsen, who now headed Chevrolet, saw the new Corvette as an American rival to Ferrari’s then-dominant GT cars and a true Le Mans contender. Accordingly, Knudsen tasked Zora Arkus-Duntov to develop the Z06 Corvette as an FIA-compliant, GT-class racecar with an eye to American SCCA and international competition.
By summer 1962, Z06 Corvettes became available for racing, with fast-rising West coast drivers Bob Bondurant, Dave Macdonald, and Jerry Grant flown to St. Louis to pick up their newly assigned Sting Ray coupes, which they drove home to break-in their engines during the trip. Another batch of four cars was air-freighted to Los Angeles, where they were picked up by Mickey Thompson and his crew. One was entered into the upcoming Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside in October, with Doug Hooper chosen by Thompson to drive and help prepare it for competition. Hooper went on to win the race, with areas of improvement for the Z06 Sting Ray identified, analyzed, and corrected in preparation for Thompson’s four-car assault on Daytona and Sebring in early 1963. Despite this success in the new Sting Ray’s racing debut, Zora Arkus-Duntov noted the lightweight Shelby Cobras that also debuted there would quickly pose serious problems for the new Z06 Corvettes. In response, Duntov initiated the radical and highly promising Grand Sport Corvette program that would be aborted when General Motors once again withdrew from factory-backed racing in 1963. Following that momentous corporate decision, Mickey Thompson’s Corvette team disbanded and he soon turned to other competition pursuits including radical Indianapolis ‘500’ entries and more record-setting efforts as a key player in Ford Motor Company’s “Total Performance” racing campaign. Ultimately, he set 485 records, more than any other individual, helped pioneer the specialty-equipment industry, and launched the SCORE desert-racing series.
In addition to the four all-out Z06 Sting Ray racing cars campaigned by the legendary Mickey Thompson, a fifth Z06/N03 car – known to Corvette experts as #6844 and the vehicle we are thrilled to offer here, was Mr. Thompson’s street car. Equipped with L84, Z06, and N03 options, this white Sting Ray was also equipped with a Muncie M-20 four-speed transmission. When restored, it was believed to have been Mickey Thompson’s “Sears/Allstate Tire Test Car,” which he used to set more records at Bonneville Salt Flats in 1963. However, in 2012, Corvette expert David Burroughs and his Prove It service were engaged to confirm the car’s use while it was in Thompson’s hands. As an expert, Mr. Burroughs was the ideal choice for the job, given his background as the founder and retired CEO of Bloomington Gold and the driving force behind its Corvette certification process. The methodical, forensic-level investigations included the use of period photographs, a Mickey Thompson Rader custom wheel ad showing this car, the historical record offered by the car itself, a 1990s letter to the Corvette Fever magazine editors from Doug Hooper, and even the original Chevron gas company credit card issued to Thompson that was found inside the car during restoration. Following exhaustive analysis, the findings of the Prove It report led to the overwhelming conclusion that this Sting Ray was in fact Mickey Thompson’s daily driver.
While the four racers under Mickey Thompson were a key part of Chevrolet’s early Z06 Sting Ray racing program, this Z06/N03 Sting Ray was his personal road car and quite likely the vehicle that he spent the most time behind the wheel of. A truly fascinating link to one of the world’s all-time greatest racers, Z06 Sting Ray #6844 is accompanied by a copy of the Prove It report and the Chevron credit card issued in period to Mickey Thompson. Wonderfully presented much as it was in period, Z06 #6844 is adorned with reproduced sponsorship graphics, devoid of bumpers, and rides on a set of Mickey Thompson’s famous Rader chrome wheels. A truly fascinating piece of living motorsports history, Z06 Sting Ray #6844 is one of the most interesting and important, examples of Chevrolet racing history.