For fans of vintage American motorsports, few names are more associated with the Chevrolet Corvette and its overseas endeavors than John Greenwood. Known for incredibly swollen bodywork and ludicrously powerful engines, the Greenwood cars would ensure the Corvette remained a performance icon during the Oil Crisis. Thanks to the team at Mecum, you now have a chance to take home one of the most famous Corvette racers of them all: the “Stars and Stripes" Greenwood Corvette.
This particular Greenwood Corvette, No. 49, started life as one of only 116 Corvettes equipped with the legendary L88 V-8 for the 1969 model year. This hopped-up variant of Chevrolet’s 427 cubic-inch big block was said to produce 435 horsepower in period, but today it is widely accepted that the engine was actually pushing somewhere north of 540 horsepower. That meant almost nothing in the GM catalog could touch the L88 in terms of performance. We say almost, as an all-aluminum version of the engine known as the ZL-1 was even more potent and rare. The car was originally intended to serve as a traveling show car highlighting BF Goodrich’s T/A radials. That said, the car was converted to full competition spec after its sister car was damaged in a crash. John Greenwood ripped the L88 out of No. 49 and had it replaced with a race-prepped ZL-1 during the conversion process.
Other performance highlights include a Muncie close-ratio 4-speed manual transmission, Greenwood-specific front and rear suspension layouts complete with trailing arms and anti-sway bars. Greenwood’s early C3’s lack the gigantic fender kits of the later cars, instead rocking a modified take on the factory L88 flares. Clear plexiglass headlight covers replace the flip-up units, while Minilite wheels complete the period look.
A host of talented drivers had a crack at the No. 49 car over the years, including John Greenwood, Bob Johnson, Dick Smothers and Don Yenko. Greenwood and Smothers would take a GT class victory in the car at the 1972 Watkins Glen Six Hour. The following year, No. 49 would participate at the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Daytona 24 Hours, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car wouldn’t finish the race in France, but it did set a GT class top speed record on the Mulsanne straight, hitting 215 mph. For reference, that’s a faster speed than a modern Z06 will muster with its 670 hp flat-planer.
The Stars and Stripes Greenwood Corvette has since undergone a full concourse-grade restoration, taking home several awards over the past decade or so. The car is currently powered by a period ZL1 V-8 engine built by Traco Engineering, which is said to provide 750 horsepower. With all of that history backing up that performance, this is gonna be one to battle over. The car is slated to cross the block during Mecum’s upcoming Indy 2023 auction, which runs from May 12-20th.
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