The REAL Story Behind the #1 1962 Corvette


From a Series Entitled:  ” The Back Story”

by Ward Wilson

[Originally Published Article 1 – 10.11.2009 on]

Sometime the best hiding place is in plain sight. Many of us have examples of this right in our own collections. Cars painted up in a racing livery that we just assumed were the whimsical afterthought of a toy company designer.

In reality, many of these designs are based on actually cars. From time to time, I will select a widely released racing replica and offer the “back story” or history of that particular piece. Information is widely available on street versions, so The Back Story will most often focus on motorsports based themes. Such is the case of Greenlight’s racing themed 1962 Corvette replica.

It’s almost as though the guys at GL were trying to slip a little history into our die cast collection. Many collectors just assumed that Greenlight racing themed diecast have been fantasy creations (excluding the wonderful IRL and Grand Am series), but all is not what it seems. Join me on a little journey of a diecast with genuine automotive heritage.


Picture from an anonymous source

On October 11, 1961, when the white Corvette coupe rolled off the line, it was 1,261 of 14,531 built for the ’62 model year. This particular hot rod was purchased by Hugh Powell of Riverside California. And I can just imagine that the MK Smith Chevrolet (Chino, CA) sales staff laughed when Mr. Powell boldly declared the car was bound for Europe as a race car. Based on the option package and build sheet, he was quite serious about this venture. The hardtop was ordered with heavy duty steering and brakes, black steel wheels and a Posi-Traction rear axle.

The fuel-injected small block was soon reworked as well as several additional “race” tweaks. These included driving-fog lights, new exhaust, a larger gas tank with racing filler cap and the peculiar blue stripping over the hood and around the roof line. The red interior was actually stock. Oddly enough, the passenger seat was left intact and no roll bar was ever added! I read that this was rare even by 1962 standards.

In a shake down run, the car won it’s first event, a hill climb in Verona Italy. From there is was entered into the 1962 edition of the 24 Hours Of Le Mans. Driven by Tony Settember and Jack Turner, Mr. Powell’s Corvette managed 14 hours and 150 laps before a missed shift led to transmission and fuel injection problems. When all was finished, they still managed a third in class and a very respectable 29 out of 55 total cars!

Over the next many years the car served as daily transportation for several owners. This even includes two repaints (first black and then red). In 1987 the car was purchased by the late Dale Pearman, a well known Corvette expert with a passion for vintage racing iron. Knowing the car’s history, Dale set about to restore the Vette to it’s original Le Mans configuration.

Unfortunately, Mr. Pearman did not see the completion of his beloved project. Friends finished the car just 6 months after his passing in 2004. Today, the blue and white Vette resides in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky. A tribute to it’s spring drive through the French countryside over 47 years before. One of only five straight axle Corvettes to ever compete in the historic endurance classic.


Now you know the whole story! Greenlight produced this 1:64 replica as a part of the third release in the Corvette Collection. I think it was interesting that they offered no historic perspective on the car at all, leaving many to assume it was just a fantasy design. Now however, you know that your holding a little bit of racing history right in your hand.

I do hope you have enjoyed this journey through automotive history, this is the first of several I will share with you over the next few months. Watch for more in this series and thanks for read.

Ward Wilson

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