2003 50th Anniversary Corvette 24 Hours of Le Mans Safety Car Heading to Auction
One of four 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette safety cars built for the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year, is set to head to auction this weekend in Auburn Springs, Indiana.
As rare as this Corvette is, it’s only expected to fetch between $25,000 – $30,000 on the block.
In 2003, Corvette celebrated its 50th anniversary and in light of the Corvette C5-R’s back-to-back GTS-class wins at Le Mans in 2001 and 2002, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the sanctioning body of the 24 Hours of Le Mans decided to use Corvettes as both pace cars and safety cars for the race in 2003. GM supplied two pace cars and four safety cars (necessary to cover the Circuit de la Sarthe’s near 8.5-mile length).
Highlights of this particular one include:
- 5.7-liter, 350-hp OHV V-8
- Automatic transmission
- One of four Safety Cars used at Le Mans in 2003
- Fully equipped from new
- Fewer than 2,000 recorded miles
- Ex-General Motors Heritage Collection
From the auction listing:
For this important opportunity records indicate that Chevrolet sent a total of six new 2003 Corvette coupes to France; two to act as Pace Cars while the others were used as Safety Cars. While most race fans know the job of the Pace Car, to start and “pace” the race, the role of the Safety Cars is less well known, but equally as important. A Safety Car is dispatched to any dangerous areas on the course that develop during the race. They are there to alert drivers of hazards such as debris on the track or slick spots. And since the Circuit de la Sarthe is nearly eight and one-half miles long, it is necessary to have multiple Safety Cars posted at strategic spots around the track.
All four Safety Cars were similar in appearance being painted the distinctive “Anniversary Red” (color code 94) and given Champagne-colored aluminum wheels as well as all of the special 50th anniversary badging. Each had the 1SB Preferred Equipment Group of options and the new F55 Magnetic Selective Ride Control system. Also these cars were all powered by the aluminum 5.7-liter Chevrolet LS1 V-8 rated at 350 horsepower making them more than capable of performing their important duties on the track quickly.
The car being offered here is one of the four 2003 Corvette coupes sent by Chevrolet to Le Mans for use as Safety Cars. As Le Mans is an exceptionally long road course, apparently as many as three Safety Cars could be deployed at the same time to warn drivers of potential trouble ahead. Along with its special event graphics scheme and North American Signal Company roof-mounted marker lights, it also is equipped with a Simpson three-inch wide five-point safety harnesses for both the driver and a passenger. There is also a Pe Mall hand-held fire extinguisher mounted on the rollbar in the rear compartment.
Interestingly this car is set up as an export model with many unique features intended for the European market. When the car was sold to the public, General Motors issued a branded title from new. The car was not in a flood, a fire or an accident, however, it appears GM wanted no part of potential warranty claims for a car that has seen track time and has modifications from original. The car is currently licensed and titled and is adult road driven in a sparing manner. Needless to say, it is a hit at car shows when the lights are activated.
This particular 2003 Corvette Le Mans Safety Car was retained by General Motors after the race as part of their Heritage Collection. It was subsequently sold when the company was going through bankruptcy proceedings. Since then it has been maintained in remarkably original conditional a single private owner.