They always say, when a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why shoppers on Craiglist passed on the sale of the century when a car listed at $700 turned out to be worth millions.
The ad ran in the Tampa Bay area of Florida about five years ago, according to FOX News.
”SERIAL # X53L on documented 1953 pre-production Corvette Frame. We believe this to be a 1953 Pontiac prototype that was to assume the name Longoria? Info received todate indicates that ZAGATO designed and PINNAFARINA constructed the body for GM in late 52,” the ad read.
The misspelling of “Pininfarina” might indicate that the seller didn’t realize what they had.
“Might anyone have knowledge of some former FISHER BODY executive that could assist in further identifying this automobile?” the ad concluded.
The car didn’t sell.
That’s because this diamond in the rough wasn’t actually a “documented 1953 pre-production Corvette Frame.” It was the storied Number 1 Cunningham Corvette, a long-sought 1960 model that was among only three turned into racecars by the Briggs Cunningham, the notable entrepreneur and sportsman.
Cunningham was featured on the cover of Time in 1954 with three race cars, along with the caption “Road Racer Briggs Cunningham: Horsepower, Endurance, Sportsmanship.”
Cunningham raced his 1960 models in 24 Hours of Le Mans, marked “1,” “2,” and “3.” The cars were quick fan-favorites, and while 1 and 2 did not finish, 3 won its class and earned the cars a place in Corvette history.
Cunningham later turned the racers back into street-legal cars and sold them. The cars disappeared for a number of years before Corvette enthusiasts tracked them down.
Numbers 2 and 3 were found and restored a few years ago, but Number 1 stayed in the shadows, that is, until someone noticed the purple junker in the Craigslist ad.
The car’s identity was revealed before a final sale, which resulted in a years-long ownership battle, which was eventually won by Indiana car dealer Gino Burelli. As of now, the final sale is pending a legal settlement. The actual amount paid has not been disclosed.
Burelli will commission a Corvette restoration specialist (who had previously restored Number 3) to return the car to its former glory.
The restoration is expected to take over a year and cost more than $500,000, which may seem like a small price to pay considering vintage car specialist Bryan Shook estimates the car could fetch a price of $3- to $7 million, and “possibly more,” Shook said.
The car’s half century-long journey through obscurity may never fully be known. It’s blue-on-white racing livery was at some point covered by a poorly applied coat of purple paint. The original engine appears to have been lost long ago.
Needless to say, when this car goes back up for sale, you can expect to pay more than 700 bucks.