You might recall the coverage of Alan Bean’s Corvette in the September issue of Vette Vues Magazine. In that article, we learned about the unique program from Chevrolet for the Astronauts.
It started with a man named Jim Rathmann. Some of you might remember him from winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1960. When he retired he owned and operated a Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership in Melbourne, Florida. Melbourne is about fifty miles south of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and a launch site for NASA.
Jim Rathmann became friends with many of the astronauts. He negotiated a particular lease arrangement with Chevrolet to put the astronauts into Chevrolet cars. For $1 a year, the astronauts could lease a car. They could choose any Chevrolet they wanted. We learn that six of the first group of astronauts picked Corvettes.
For a quick look back at Alan Bean’s 1969 Apollo XII Corvette, we learned that Alan Bean said in an exclusive interview in 1969 that the Apollo 12 lunar team – Bean, Pete Conrad, and Dick Gordon asked Rathmann for three identically prepared Riverside Gold Corvette coupes. They had 427/390 and were customized with a unique two-tone design dreamed up by Bean. The men were photographed with their cars for a story and published in Life magazine.
Year’s later, Al Bean’s Corvette was discovered by Danny Reed from Austin, Texas. You can read more about Alan Bean’s Corvette on our blog https://vette-vues.com/alan-l-beans-1969-chevrolet-astrovette/
Our feature Corvette was once again discovered by Danny Reed in Austin, Texas and who believed it to be another “special lease” astronaut car. What are the odds of finding Alan Bean’s 1969 Apollo XII Corvette, then 46 years later, Alfred Worden’s 1971 Apollo XV Corvette on used car lots in Austin, TX?
For a little history on the car, the Apollo 15 lunar-mission crewmembers Commander Dave Scott, Command Module Pilot Alfred Worden, Lunar Module Pilot James Irwin, chose a more-patriotic theme for their 1971 Corvettes, once again provided through Rathmann.
The cars were Mille Miglia Red, Classic White, and Bridgehampton Blue. They and their Corvettes were also photographed for a story in Life magazine in the red, white and blue order, representing the colors of the American flag.
Danny tells Vette Vues Magazine, “In 1971, I bought Alan Bean’s Gold & Black 1969 Corvette in a closed bid from General Motors. I found it on a GMAC car lot in Austin. Now, 46 years later and thanks to my Corvette friend Carl Sanger, it seems I’ve stumbled across Astronaut Al Worden’s 1971 (CMP) Apollo XV Corvette, once again on a used car lot in Austin, Texas.”
While Danny and his Alan Bean AstroVette were doing the Corvette Invasion show, he received a text from Carl Sanger telling him that there was a Corvette posted on Craigslist and it was once owned by an Astronaut.
Danny says, “I checked the location, and it was located in a small camper & used car lot, three houses past the turnoff to the event – about a mile away. I called, set up an appointment, left a deposit and bought the car July 20th, the 48th Anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon.”
Danny learned that this astronaut Corvette, basically a “barn find,” was kept in an open field for years.
“The good news – is it is ‘Numbers Matching!’ The crew had requested their cars to be equipped with the 454 cubic inch, 390 horsepower, 500 ft torque engines.”
The Apollo XV Corvette is currently in Danny’s warehouse with “Stretch,” a rare 1971 Chevy truck once owned by his Boat Racing friend, John Annin.
What are Danny’s plans for this historical Corvette? “I plan to get Al Worden’s Corvette drivable.”
Many of you noticed that the Corvette had aftermarket valve covers and air cleaner, Danny is replacing them with original stock parts.
Danny will be revealing his “Barn Find” at the Corvette Chevy Expo in Galveston Island Texas this March 10 & 11, 2018. Interestingly enough, Galveston Island is just thirty miles south of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. We are also excited that Danny will be bringing Alan Bean’s Astrovette to display alongside Alfred Worden’s 1971 Apollo XV Corvette.
If any of our readers are familiar with the car or have photos or information about its history, please let us know, and we will pass it on to Danny as he documents its history. Email firstname.lastname@example.org