HomeThe MarketAstronaut Alan Shepard’s 427 Corvette at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction

Astronaut Alan Shepard’s 427 Corvette at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction

Celebrity cars among the thousands of collector vehicles at the 50th anniversary event


Among the bevy of celebrity cars being offered by Barrett-Jackson during its Scottsdale collector car auction is a genuine piece of cosmic history, a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette 427 L89 convertible originally driven by Alan Shepard, the first American in space.

Shepard was a longtime fan of Chevrolet’s sports car, having first owned a 1953 Corvette before he joined NASA’s Mercury program to become an astronaut.  During that time, he struck up a friendship with Chevrolet engineer and Corvette guru Zora Arkus-Duntov. 

On May 5, 1961, Shepard became the first American to fly into outer space, and the public was enthralled.  In honor of the feat, Arkus-Duntov talked GM into presenting the astronaut with a brand-new 1962 Corvette, which the automaker did to reap the publicity from the space-age accomplishment.

Florida auto dealer Jim Rathmann, a former Indy 500 winner, added another incentive to all the Mercury spacemen, the opportunity to lease a new Corvette for one year for just one dollar.  The 1968 convertible offered at Barrett-Jackson with no reserve is the car Shepard leased.

“One of 664 Corvettes made in this combination in 1968, the sportscar ‘has all the right stuff’ with a L89 Tri-Power-equipped V8 engine package mated to a 4-speed manual transmission,” according to a Barrett-Jackson news release. “It was displayed in the Corvette Museum of America, as well as the NASA U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville, Florida.”

Other celebrity cars that will be offered at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction, January 22-30, include:

A 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am SE owned by legendary actor Burt Reynolds, who raised the sporty model to icon status with the popular movie Smokey and the Bandit. This Trans Am is the only one actually owned by Reynolds, a promotional model that was given to him by Pontiac “for his pivotal role in the car’s massive success,” the news release says.

“The Trans Am includes a Florida title signed by Reynolds, engraved dedication plate on the driver’s door and an autographed copy of Burt Reynolds’ But Enough About Me autobiography.”

Rusty Wallace’s custom 1966 Chevy Nova

A 1966 Chevrolet Nova SS designed and owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace. Professionally built by Ambition Road, it is powered by a 6.2-liter Chevy LS3 V8 engine mated to a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission. The body is painted in a Champagne color formulated by Chip Foose, while the interior is finished in Amber leather and features a Pioneer stereo, Vintage Air heat and air conditioning, and Dakota Digital gauges.

auction, Astronaut Alan Shepard’s 427 Corvette at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale auction, ClassicCars.com Journal
The 1932 deuce coupe hot rod owned by guitarist Brian Setzer

A 1932 Ford custom coupe, a hot rod owned and restored by rockabilly guitarist Brian Setzer of Stray Cats. The all-original steel deuce features a black exterior with a gray and red interior, and is powered by a 414cid 1958 Cadillac V8 that has been bored, stroked and balanced, paired with an automatic transmission.

For more information about the 50th Anniversary Scottsdale Auction at WestWorld, visit Barrett-Jackson’s website.  

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.



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