A Florida man says the long-lost 1960 Chevrolet Corvette race car that made a brief public appearance in Carlisle, Pa., last week was owned and raced by his father in the 1970s, and claims the car belongs to him.
The challenged ownership of the maroon-colored car – one of three raced in the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans by Briggs Cunningham and valued by some collectors at more than $1 million – could be the reason organizers of the Corvettes at Carlisle show canceled a planned public display on Aug. 24, less than 30 minutes before the scheduled start time.
Soon after the cancellation, media outlets were emailed a document by Dan Mathis Jr. of Tampa, Fla. In the document, Mathis claims the car, which carries chassis number 00867S103535, was bought by his father, Dan Mathis Sr., in the mid-1970s. Mathis says his father modified the looks of the car and ran it at drag-race tracks near Tampa.
Mathis has not responded to email requests from Autoweek seeking additional information.
But Mathis did talk with auto writer Jerry Garrett. On his blog site, Garrett says Mathis traveled to Carlisle last weekend in a bid to take possession of the car. He provided Garrett with a digital image of a Florida title for the car – although that title says it was issued on Aug. 17, one week before the Carlisle event.
In his emailed document, Mathis claims the car was “kidnapped” and “stolen,” but provides no evidence such as a police report.
The Cunningham Corvette, which wore the No. 1 for the 1960 Le Mans race, had been missing for more than two decades. It was reported found in the Tampa area in July by Rick Carr while he was clearing out two warehouses filled with memorabilia and equipment by his late father, a retired judge.
Searching the Internet for the car’s vehicle identification number led Carr to contact Cunningham historian Larry Berman in Massachusetts. Berman contacted Lance Miller, a noted Corvette collector – he owns the No. 3 Cunningham Corvette – and co-owner of Carlisle Events, which promotes the Corvettes at Carlisle event.
On Aug. 23 at a gathering for invited guests at a home just outside the Carlisle Fairgrounds, Miller displayed the recently discovered Corvette race car. Joining him were Carr, Berman and noted Corvette restorer Kevin Mackay, owner of Corvette Repair Inc. of Valley Stream, N.Y.
During the event, Miller said he had bought the car and held it for two days before selling it. The new owner wanted to remain anonymous, Miller said. Mackay, who restored Miller’s No. 3 car, said the new owner had hired him to restore the No. 1 car. Mackay said the process would take two to three years.
Less than 24 hours after the car was seen in public, it had gone back into hiding. Miller and Mackay say they don’t know the car’s location, and insist that the new owner wants to remain anonymous.
This story originally appeared at AutoWeek.com.