Mecum Auto Auction - Monterey 2014,
August 14 - 16, 2014
No list of the pioneering Corvette racers of the late 1950s and early 1960s is complete without Paul Reinhart. The Oakland, California, Union 76 dealer began racing Corvettes in Northern California in 1957, just as they were coming into their own on the world stage with consecutive class wins at the Sebring 12 Hours. Reinhart's 1957 Corvette was a dominant force in SCCA Pacific Coast B-Production racing, winning division championships in 1960 and 1961.
Reinhart's speed and consistency put him in the top category of preferred customers when in 1962, Chevrolet announced the brand-new 1963 Corvette Sting Ray Z06. He was certainly in good company, as the other drivers selected for the initial "batch" of six cars included West Coast aces Dave MacDonald, Doug Hooper, Jerry Grant and Bob Bondurant, and the "Flying Dentist," Dr. Dick Thompson. Reinhart ordered his new Z06 through Cochran and Celli Chevrolet of Oakland. But, unlike his colleagues who enjoyed the backing of either high-profile dealers or such luminaries as Mickey Thompson and Gulf Oil's Grady Davis, Reinhart was the sole owner-driver in this distinguished group.
THE FIRST BATCH OF Z06 CORVETTES
100684 // Driven by Dave MacDonald
100689 // Driven by Doug Hooper
100701 // Driven by Jerry Grant
100809 // Driven by Dr. Dick Thompson
100813 // Driven by Bob Bondurant
100895 // Driven by Paul Reinhart
Traditionally, batch production in the automobile industry has been used for such low volume products as buses, trucks and fleet vehicles, making it particularly effective for specialty vehicles such as the 1963 Corvette Z06, which employed specific specialized components not available on other Corvettes. Chevrolet built a total of 199 1963 Z06 Corvettes in these so-called batches.
The first batch of six cars were produced as intended by Duntov as purebred factory racing machines, incorporating a number of regular production options as well as special parts specific to the Z06 package. These latter pieces consisted mainly of heavy duty competition-oriented suspension parts, including much stiffer springs, special shock absorbers and heavier sway bars. The Z06 also exclusively used power-assisted brakes with a unique dual-circuit master cylinder, sintered metallic brake linings matched with cast iron finned drums and ventilated backing plates with screened openings. The brakes also had internal cooling fans, and rubber scoops were included in the car with instructions for installation.
Contrary to popular belief, the Z06 brake package was more robust than the separately offered RPOs J50 power brakes and J65 metallic brakes. Two other features originally exclusive to the Z06 were a special fiberglass 36-gallon fuel tank and finned cast aluminum knock-off wheels; these would both later be made available as Regular Production Options, although the wheels would be discontinued due to porosity issues. Other requisites, most importantly the L84 327/360 HP engine and 4-speed transmission available in any Corvette, were mandatory in the Z06.
Corvette Chief Engineer Zora Arkus Duntov developed the Z06 concept early in the new Sting Ray's planning stages. Rather than just offering a list of performance options from which to pick and choose, his goal was to incorporate a fully integrated array of performance enhancements in one package. This approach would guarantee the performance of any Corvette racing in either regional or national competition. Additionally, because Duntov knew he would continue developing the Z06 during its production run, it would also allow future refinements to be retrofitted across the entire line of Z06 Corvettes, regardless of their production dates. This approach was also well suited to the batch production process that began with the first six cars in early October of 1962.
Encompassed of the aforementioned six cars built in early October 1962 and assigned to the top Corvette racers of the day through the dealers who had previously sponsored them.
Consisted of three cars produced in late October 1962, including 30837S102124, which was sponsored by Nickey Chevrolet of Chicago, Illinois, and driven by A.J. Foyt. The other two, including 30837S102244, were sold through Yenko Chevrolet in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. The third car's serial number is unknown.
Entailed approximately 20 cars built in early January 1963 with serial numbers between 30837S106208 and 30837S106844.
Estimated at 125 to 130 cars, well over half the number of Z06 Corvettes eventually produced - was completed in February 1963. Serial numbers ranged from 30837S108065 to 30837S109626.
Included fewer than 10 cars produced in April 1963. Serial numbers ranged from 30837S113148 to 30837S113702.
The last 30 to 40 cars, was produced from early May to late July 1963. Serial numbers begin at 30837S114362 and are believed to range to 30837S120377.
Having placed his order for the new Z06 the first day of its availability in the summer of 1962, Reinhart fully expected it would be delivered in time to prepare it for the new Corvette's planned public debut at the October 13th Invitational Three-Hour Enduro race that was part of the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix at Riverside; his entry was even recorded in the event program. But while the others in the first batch received their cars in time, Reinhart's was not yet completed. He was offered a ride in a friend's 1962 Corvette, but when the engine let go in qualifying, Reinhardt elected to watch the race with Duntov.
The race featured a fresh and unknown threat in the form of Carroll Shelby's brand new Cobra, driven by the speedy Bill Krause. Hooper won the race in the Mickey Thompson Z06, but watching the Cobra reel in the Z06 coupes of Hooper, Grant, Bondurant and MacDonald before retiring with a broken hub, Duntov quietly commented to Reinhart, "the writing is on the wall."
It was not until a full week later that Reinhart was able to take delivery of his new Corvette, serial number 0895, which was further delayed by the need to replace a faulty fuel tank sending unit. Driving the car home from the St. Louis plant on Route 66 to break in the engine and drivetrain, Reinhart encountered fuel injection problems when he reached Arizona. Although it was late in the evening, he found a garage owner willing to open his doors, and after makeshift repairs he was once again on his way. Unfortunately, the delay also took 0895 out of the October 21st USAC Laguna Seca race, in which Reinhart competed in his 1957 Corvette.
Reinhart kept a light touch in preparing 0895 for the track. Working in his Union 76 garage, he removed the front and rear bumpers, the stock exhaust system, spare tire and carrier and the factory shock absorbers, replacing the latter with Koni units in the rear and Gabriels up front. The stock exhaust manifolds were retained and fitted with straight-through rear-exit pipes. Engine preparation was simple: the internals were balanced and blueprinted (the 327 responded particularly well to the procedure in terms of both increased power and durability), the exhaust ports were matched and an Iskendarian race cam installed in place of the factory Duntov unit. The Daytona Blue coupe's matching Blue interior was kept largely intact, with the exceptions of removing the passenger seat and installing a roll bar and safety harnesses.
Like most Z06 racers, Reinhart soon discovered that the weak link in the Z06 formula was its brakes. Even after fully warming, the metallic linings could snag and pull the car in any direction. Setting up for a corner suddenly became a frightening and unpredictable ordeal, but help soon arrived in one of Duntov's famous large wooden crates, this time containing new brakes complete with vented finned drums, new front spindles and rear trailing arms. A new, stronger 36-gallon fuel tank was included to replace the original unit (which had been installed in Red Faris' 1963 roadster); new shocks and u-joints were also included but went unused. By the time the SCCA Pacific Coast Championship Races were held at Riverside in February 1963, Reinhart's confidence in 0895 was complete, but Carroll Shelby's Cobras had made rapid advances, and they ran away from the field.
As the Cobra threat was beginning to take its toll, Z06 racers faced another blow when, after Dick Thompson bested the Cobras in the February 1963 Daytona Continental Three Hours, Chevrolet announced it was pulling factory support, even sending representatives to confiscate and destroy factory equipment from the teams. Dispirited, Paul Reinhart began racing in regional events: Pomona, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Santa Barbara, Del Mar, Vaca Valley, Cotati, Stockton, and other West Coast venues; he put 0895 up for sale at the end of the 1964 season. Commenting on the period years later, he said, "It took years to get over the Z06 in terms of racing in form again."
The years did indeed pass by, and in 1982 Reinhart began searching for a Corvette to return to racing in vintage events. Surveying the San Francisco Examiner classifieds, he saw an ad for a 1963 Corvette race car. In a fortuitous turn that any self-respecting screenwriter would reject, the car in the ad turned out upon inspection to be Reinhart's old 0895, worn and in need of restoration, but intact, complete with the original suspension, brakes and 36-gallon fuel tank. Reinhart closed the deal and restored the car in time to begin racing it in vintage events in 1983. He raced the car frequently in the Monterey Historics, Wine Country Classic, Coronado Speed Festival and other West Coast venues until 2000, when he sold it to fellow racer Susan Armstrong of Issaquah, Washington. Armstrong continued to race 0895 regularly in the same events for years afterward until selling it recently to a new owner.
Like the other five original "first batch" Z06 Corvettes, 0895 has become a highly valued artifact in Corvette's fabulous history. It is distinguished by virtue of its origin as one of the elite - a purpose-built racing Corvette - and its subsequent rebirth as a fixture on the West Coast vintage racing circuit for over 30 years. Now complete after another full restoration, 0895 is ready for yet more action as a top attraction in that ever-popular sport.
- The Paul Reinhart Z06 Tanker Race Car
- The last of six first batch built Z06
- Serial No. 30837S100895
- 327/360 HP V-8, 4-speed transmission
- 36 gallon fuel tank
- Sold after the 1964 season and reacquired in 1982 by Paul Reinhart
- Restored in 1983 and campaigned in vintage events on the west coast by Reinhart until 2000
- Sold to Susan Armstrong, who continued racing in vintage events until recently selling the Z06
- Recent restoration commissioned by the current owner
- The first six Z06 Corvettes were earmarked by the factory for drivers such as Dave McDonald, Doug Hooper, Jerry Grant, Dr. Dick Thompson, Bob Bondurant and Paul Reinhart
- Known as the King of Pioneers, Reinhart was the only owner/driver of the group that received the first batch of Z06 Corvettes
- Reinhart won SCCA Pacific Coast B-Production division championships in 1960 and 1961 in his 1957 Corvette