The Tale of the Lost-and-Found “Purple People Eater” Corvette
In the late 1950s the American racing scene really started to take off, and many names that have become synonymous with performance and competitive racing were forged in this era. The infamous Purple People Eater was a ‘59 Corvette built by Nicky Chevrolet and driven by Jim Jeffords during an almost-unbeatable SCCA B-Production racing career.
The story of how this once-treasured race car was lost and found by history has made it even more legendary, and Motor Authority reports that the Purple People Eater was on display at this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in sunny south Florida.
After its short-lived racing career came to an end, the Purple People Eater was temporarily forgotten until the inaugural Carlisle Swap Meet in 1974. There, Chip Miller and Ken Heckert haggled the then-owner down from $1,000 asking price to just $800 for the iconic race car. Neither of the men knew what they had at the time, and the Corvette sat in the back of Heckert’s shop for years in anonymity.
When Chip set out to find and restore the “missing” Purple People Eater years later, he didn’t have to look far, discovering it had been under his nose the whole time. With a Rochester fuel-injected 283 V8 and a four-speed manual, along with every optional factory racing option, the Purple People Eater was an unbeatable car in its time, and Jeffords only ever lost one race in this monster. It was one of the brightest stars at the Amelia Island Concours event this past weekend.