A 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Z06 race car with a storybook tale of loss and rebirth will be up for auction during Mecum Auctions’ Monterey sale in August.
The Z06 was originally owned by Oakland, California, racer Paul Reinhart, who was a powerful force among Corvette competitors during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In his 1957 roadster, Reinhart won back-to-back championships in SCCA Pacific Coast B-Production racing in 1960 and 1961.
When the newly minted 1963 Corvette Z06 performance coupe – a Chevrolet factory race car project spearheaded by legendary Corvette chief engineer Zora Arkus Duntov – became available in 1962, the Union 76 dealer was among the short list of proven racing stars selected for the initial batch of six cars. That impressive list included Dave McDonald, Doug Hooper, Jerry Grant, Bob Bondurant and the “Flying Dentist,” Dr. Dick Thompson.
But unlike the others who were backed by sponsors, Reinhart bought his own car to drive in competition. Reinhart ordered his Sting Ray coupe, number 0895, during the summer of ’62, but his career with the Z06 was star-crossed by circumstances out of his control.
One was the fierce competition from Carroll Shelby’s new Cobras, which were taking their toll just as the specially prepared Z06s were hitting the track. The other was Chevrolet’s unexpected announcement in February 1963 that it was pulling factory support from racing.
“Dispirited, Paul Reinhart began racing in regional events: Pomona, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Santa Barbara, Del Mar, Vaca Valley, Cotati, Stockton, and other West Coast venues,” according to the Mecum catalog description. “He put 0895 up for sale at the end of the 1964 season.
“Commenting on the period years later, he said, ‘It took years to get over the Z06 in terms of racing in form again’.”
Reinhart did decide years later that he would go at it again, this time in vintage racing. He began searching in 1982 for a suitable Corvette. And here’s where the magic comes in.
Searching the classified ads in the San Francisco Examiner, he found a 1963 Corvette race car for sale. Amazingly, when he went to examine it, he found that it was his old race car, number 0895. It was pretty worn out and in need of restoration, but it was all there, including Reinhart’s own performance tweaks to the engine, suspension and brakes, and its 36-gallon fuel tank.
So not only was he able to re-ignite his Corvette racing passion, he was able to do it in the very same car. He restored old 0895 and started in 1983 to compete in vintage racing events including the Monterey Historics, Wine Country Classic and Coronado Speed Festival.
He sold the car in 2000 to fellow vintage racer Susan Armstrong of Issaquah, Washington, who continued running it in the same events for years until she sold it to its current owner.
The 1963 Corvette Z06 coupe ticks some important boxes for collectors, such as being among the first batch of six factory competition cars, its ownership by an elite West Coast racer who added his own performance enhancements, and the car’s rediscovery and rebirth to become a fixture in West Coast historic racing for more than 30 years.
The Corvette has once again been completely restored, according to Mecum, and is ready to resume its place on the vintage racing circuit.
Billed as “The Daytime Auction,” Mecum’s Monterey sale happens August 14-16 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa on Del Monte Golf Course.