Pete Vicari grew up in a family owned construction and real-estate development business in Harvey, Louisiana, just south of New Orleans. But he also grew up with a love of Detroit muscle cars and especially Chevrolet Corvettes.
His passion for such muscular machines led to the founding 25 years ago of the Vicari Auction Company, which regularly conducts collector car sales in Mississippi, Texas and Georgia. Vicari’s next sale is scheduled for April 17-18 at Biloxi, and will be followed just a couple of weeks later by an annual auction in Nocona, Texas.
While such auctions are very public events, a week ago Vicari shared some previously very privately held news: Not only had he collected three pre-production 1963 Chevrolet Corvette prototypes — and with sequential serial numbers — but he has decided it is time to sell them.
However, there is a catch:He wants the cars to stay together as a set.
“I would really hate to see these cars broke up,” Vicari says in a YouTube video Vicari Auction distributed to share his decision. “I mean, the last time they were together, it was in September 1962 in St. Louis (where they were built in the former Corvette assembly plant).
“You know, to sell ‘em to three individual people would just be devastating to me because I’ve worked so hard to put ‘em together.”
The video was distributed to share news of the cars and Vicari’s decision to sell them. He has not said whether he will sell them privately or as a single lot at auction. Nonetheless, the existence of the cars is fascinating.
In the video, we learn that as Chevrolet prepared to launch the second-generation Corvette, it built nearly 2 dozen pre-production or pilot cars. Perhaps 7 or 8 of them still exist, including one split-window coupe.
The pilot cars were hand-built. Fiberglass body panels were formed over mahogany wood “bucks” and metallic parts were sand cast and thus do not have the same finish as those that would come off the assembly line during the production of cars for customers.
Vicari points out such things as the use of the hand brake from a 1962 Chevy Nova in the pilot Corvettes, along with different consoles, glove-box doors, wheel knock-off spinners, carpeting and other differences.
“What might have been seen at the time as imperfections or other differences, either in the exterior appearance or the interior of the car, now lend credence to the uniqueness of each car being a rare pre-production vehicle,” the video’s narrator notes.
The video includes evidence of the car’s histories.
The video narrator says that after chasing, acquiring, restoring and enjoying “the pride of ownership,” Vicari is ready to sell. The video ends with a panel sharing Vicari’s contact information for those with serious interests in the cars.