A few months ago it was little more than a curio: a Corvette once used by Neil Armstrong being auctioned on Ebay. But with the passing of the American hero on August 25th there’s new interest in this very unique piece of history.
The now derelict 1967 coupe was driven by the first man on the Moon for a year through a special leasing program offered to astronauts by Melbourne, Florida, Chevrolet dealer Jim Rathman. Upon its return, the blue ‘Vette was purchased by an employee at the dealership but was left unused in a garage since 1981 before being bought by its current owner, Joe Crosby of Merritt Island, Florida, in February of this year.
The seriously worn-out car barely runs, but is largely original and has a 390 hp 427 cubic-inch V8 engine, four-speed manual transmission and factory air conditioning. The only major modifications are a new carburetor, water pump, muffler, wheels and a very bad set of custom fender flares.
The Corvette failed to sell during the Ebay auction in May, with a high bid of $251,638.00 coming just short of the unpublished reserve, according to Crosby. He says he received calls from three of the bidders within an hour of the announcement of Armstrong’s death, but that the offers still aren’t quite where he wants them. Crosby hasn’t raised his original target price, despite the newfound significance of the car.
The publisher of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine, Rob Sass, says that without the celebrity provenance a 1967 Corvette in its condition would only be worth about $20,000, and perhaps $100,000 if fully restored. But with NASA’s strong connection with Corvettes and Armstrong’s status as a legitimate icon its value could be three to five times that of an ordinary example.
Crosby isn’t planning to put it back on Ebay, but he’s listed in the phonebook and ready to listen to any serious offers.