Gus Grissom's Corvette Roadster rockets to $86,000 at Scottsdale

Astronaut Gus Grissom's 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster performed well this weekend (January 18-20), when it was offered as part of Russo and Steele's 12th Annual Scottsdale Arizona Auction.

Gus Grissom Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
Grissom and the Mercury Seven astronauts "would often tear up the tracks around Melbourne, Florida" according to the auction house

In a rare sale that attracted both space memorabilia and classic car collectors, the Roadster sold for $85,800. It was originally supplied to Grissom as part of Chevrolet's "brass hat" program, which offered special, modified cars to high-profile figures in recognition of their position, and to boost the company's profile.

Virgil I "Gus" Grissom was one of the original Mercury Seven - the first astronauts enlisted by NASA - and was one of the most famous, being the first American to travel into space twice. Sadly, he was killed during the Apollo 1 pre-launch test, along with two other astronauts involved with the mission.

Grissom ordered a 435 hp turbo-jet engine for his Corvette, along with several factory options, including F41 heavy duty suspension, M21 close-ratio four-speed transmission, off-road exhaust and a 4.56:1 rear-end, which reportedly gave him the edge in acceleration over Alan Shepard - a fellow Mercury Seven astronaut and "brass hat" Corvette owner.

As well as its superb technical specifications, the roadster has an equally impressive history. Following Grissom's death it was sold back to Florida Chevrolet dealer and Indy 500 champion Jim Rathmann, after which it saw several owners before receiving a high-quality restoration that secured it the NCRS Top Flight honours in 1989.

It also formed part of the motorcade that welcomed the returning crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1988. In 1993, it took part in the celebrations commemorating NASA's landmark Gemini Program.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has all the latest from Scottsdale in our Classic Cars news section. Space collectors will want to view our space memorabilia for sale, which include a complete set of signed photographs from every Moonwalker.

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