Back in 1961, General Motors offered a program to all astronauts, lease a Chevrolet Corvette for $1 per year. Each would come from a former Indy 500 winner and GM dealer, Jim Rathmann, who owned a dealership close to the Space Centre in Florida.
The fourth person to walk on the moon, Alan Bean, the Apollo 12 Lunar Module Pilot in 1969, took part in the lease program. Bean’s two Apollo 12 colleagues, Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon, leased identical Riverside Gold Corvettes with matching custom painted black accent ‘wings.’ The three astronauts drove the cars to the space station for training every day.
Today the current owner, Danny Reed, has owned the car for 48 years. Having seen the car in the December 1969 issue of Life Magazine, Reed was surprised to spot the car on a General Motors sales forecourt in his hometown of Austin, Texas in 1971. Danny submitted a bid under a closed bid system but lost. Six weeks later, GM called – the winning bidder hadn’t come up with the cash need and they wanted to know if Danny was still interested. With all he could afford at the time, Danny purchased the car for $3,230 – just $30 more than the third-place bidder.
Photo © Historic Vehicle Association (HVA)