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I grew up in the NASA community as my Dad was an Engineer at the Manned Spacecraft Center, now known as the Johnson Space Center or JSC, in Houston since the beginning of the Space Race in the early 1960's. I did some research for the history of the Astronauts and their Corvettes, but found only a few good sources of info. The best source I found was in a coffee table book called "Corvette, America's Sports Car" It is from this book that I am quoting for this thread. I did some minor editing, but for the most part, it is written by the authors of the book.

I will add to this thread as I find more about this subject.

Here is the introduction of "The Rocket Men":


The Rocket Men

The Corvette was the unofficial car of the original Mercury Seven Astronauts. Of all of the Astronauts, Alan Shepherd might rank as the most enthusiastic Vette pilot of them all. In addition to being the first American in space Shepherd was one of the first Astronaut to own a Corvette. His first Vette was a 1953 which he bought in 1954 for $1,500 from his Father-In-Law. He bought his second Corvette, a 1957 when he was named to the Astronaut Corps in April 1959.

Alan Shepherd developed a relationship with Zora Arkus-Duntov that led to invitations to drive preproduction models. Afterwards, Duntov and Shepherd would go water skiing off the back of Duntov’s twin big block Chris Craft on Lake St. Clair. Duntov and Ed Cole would in turn travel down to Cape Canaveral to witness an occasional launch.

The ongoing friendship led to Duntov’s attempt to get GM to give Shepherd a new Corvette. “At first, I met with some resistance,” Duntov said, “I was able to offer him a Corvette engine, but before I could deliver it to him, GM agreed to give him a whole car.”

GM’s change of heart can be attributed to Corvette sales promotion manager and former Corvette News editor Joe Pike, who went directly to general manager Ed Cole and convinced him what a unique opportunity for Chevrolet this was.

Once Cole gave the green light, a 1962 Corvette with white exterior was selected, which was then turned over to Bill Mitchell at Design Staff for a complete interior makeover, including altimeter gauges. While Chevrolet kept quite about the program, given the fact that it gave no free cars to anyone at the time, Shepherd and his Corvette did appear on the cover of Corvette News several months later.

After Shepherd received his car, race driver turned Chevrolet dealer Jim Rathman arranged for other Astronauts to drive Corvettes through special lease deals.

To be continued....
 

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Just like the fighter jocks, the early astronauts used those Corvettes to have fun, blow off steam and, of course, race each other. Jim Rathman told a tale of how Shepherd beat a girl in a Triumph TR3 before getting pulled over for speeding. “So I put decals on the side of his car – Triumphs, Schwinns, just like downed enemy aircraft.”

Gus Grissom was a famous practical joker who loved to get the best of Shepherd’s serious nature when it came to cars. He managed to win several contests against Shepherd by sabotaging his car – with Rathman’s help. Shepherd may have gotten him back after Grissom brought his Corvette to Rathman with a flat tire. “I never thought a rattle snake could puncture a tire, but he brought it in here and we found fang marks,” said Rathman.

Apollo astronaut Wally Schirra was featured with fellow Apollo 7 astronauts Walt Cunningham and Don Eisele as the three donned white scarves for a Life magazine photo with Shirra’s 1968 Corvette. The crew of Apollo 12, Pete Conrad, Dick Gordon, and Al Bean drove identical 1969 Corvettes with a gold and black paint job designed by Bean. “We got into trouble on that one,” says Rathman, “because the astronauts weren’t supposed to make endorsements for products and that shot appeared in Life magazine.”



Today, Corvettes can be spotted all over the “Space Coast” region of Cape Canaveral, Titusville, Cocoa Beach, and Melbourne, Florida as well as near any place where fast machines that fly are likely to congregate.
 

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Very cool info and story:partyon: Thanks for sharing:thumbsup:
 

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Very cool story,,, Thanks for sharing!!
 

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Not sure who these three are, but, with the lunar rover, it has to be an Apollo crew.

GM liked providing Corvettes to astronauts. It made good publicity. Note the red, white, and blue.

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Today, Corvettes can be spotted all over the “Space Coast” region of Cape Canaveral, Titusville, Cocoa Beach, and Melbourne, Florida as well as near any place where fast machines that fly are likely to congregate.
:agree: Mine was reborn in Indiatlantic and Viera
 
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