The Chevy Corvette for 1960 had only minor changes from the previous model year. The CORVETTE script above the passenger-side parcel tray added a red bar above and blue bar below, and the pleats in the seats were vertical rather than horizontal. A rear anti-sway bar was added, and the front anti-sway bar was beefed up. Despite advertising for a 315-horsepower variant of the Rochester mechanical fuel-injected engine, technical hurdles kept it from the powertrain lineup. Aluminum radiators were standard issue with the 270- and 290-horsepower high-performance engines. Production broke the 10,000 unit mark for the first time.
The biggest “first” for the 1960 Chevy Corvette was competition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Three Corvettes were fielded by privateer racer Briggs Cunningham, and one by airline pilot Lloyd “Lucky” Casner, owner of the Camoradi USA Racing Team. The Camoradi Corvette, known as chassis 2272, began life as a 290-horsepower fuel-injected model with a four-speed transmission and RPO 687 heavy-duty ventilated hydraulic drum brakes. A 24-gallon fuel tank was added, thus eliminating the soft top. The Corvette was delivered new to Don Allen Chevrolet in Miami.
Using two race-prepped Chevy Corvette fuelie engines and transmissions secreted to him after a meeting with Zora Arkus-Duntov and then GM general manager Ed Cole, Casner convinced a cadre of journeyman racers, including Dan Gurney, Stirling Moss, Masten Gregory, Chuck Daigh, and Denise McCluggage to drive for him. With sponsorship from Champion, Shell, Dow Chemical, and Goodyear, the Camoradi team was ready to campaign its new Corvette.
The Camoradi USA Racing Team Chevy Corvette, piloted by Jim Jeffords, won the 1960 Cuba GT and Havana GT in the GT class. Fred Gamble and Lee Lilley would finish second in the GT class at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring, as well as at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Corvette wore the number 4 at Le Mans, as 1,2, and 3 had gone to the Cunningham Corvettes as they were the first three entries. After Le Mans, Casner and Gamble raced in the Swedish Kanonloppet races at Karlskoga, taking fourth in class and tenth overall. After the race, team mechanic Bob Wallace was driving the Corvette to Goodwood in the UK when the car was rolled, ending up in a ditch outside Ljungby, Sweden. The Corvette was so heavily damaged, the Camoradi team salvaged only the engine and transmission, leaving the rest of the car to be hauled to a Swedish wrecking yard.
The engine and transmission from the Camoradi Racing Chevy Corvette migrated to New Zealand and were used in a Maserati 250F, and thereafter powered an offshore racing boat that sank. The rest of the Corvette changed hands a number of times, with each new owner vowing to return it to its original glory, but none making good on the promise. Corvette historian Loren Lundberg was a neighbor of Bob Wallace, who was living in Arizona in 1991. Lundberg became interested in the car, and embarked on the journey of finding and purchasing the Corvette.
The Camoradi Racing Chevy Corvette was located. The frame had been straightened and the fiberglass replaced, but work had progressed no further. The Corvette still wore most of the racing equipment, including the 37-gallon fuel tank (the 24-gallon tank had been replaced by a larger one in 1960 for endurance racing), heavy-duty brakes and suspension, and Koni shocks. In 1995, Lundberg bought the Corvette and shipped it back home to the United States.
As the Chevy Corvette drivetrain had taken up residence at the bottom of the sea, it was impossible to reunite it with the car. Period-correct engine block, heads, and Rochester fuel-injection were sourced and installed. The Corvette was treated to a painstaking restoration over the course of twelve years, returning it to its Ermine White with blue stripes livery, Marchal driving lights, and number 4 from its 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
The Camoradi Racing Chevy Corvette has been the recipient of the National Corvette Restorers Society American Heritage and Ladies Vote Awards, the National Corvette Museum Award, has been a Bloomington Gold Display car, and a Petersen Museum display car. It is the only Solid-Axle Corvette to have finished both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
This stunning example of Chevy Corvette history will cross the Mecum Auctions block at their 36th Spring Classic taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana, May 12th through 20th. Included in the sale are copies of the Le Mans entry and inspection, historic photos, artwork, extensive documentation, and several magazines that featured the car. It is sold on a Bill of Sale.