SCCA B-Production Class 1958-1959
The Purple People Eater MKIII is a 1959 Corvette that was literally unbeatable
in SCCA B-Production racing in the late 1950s. There were three Purple People Eaters built in 1958 and 1959. The 1959 model,
won every race it entered, except the last one, with Jim Jeffords behind the wheel and mechanic Ronnie Kaplan turning wrenches.
The car was built by a team at Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago, said Tom Stephani, whose father, Jack Stephani, was Nickey's
secretary/treasurer. "Primarily, my father was the marketing, sales and promotions guy. My uncle (Ed Stephani) was the finance
and operations guy. While my uncle was interested in racing and supported the effort, my dad was the one who really got bit
by the racing bug," Stephani told HMM in a telephone interview. The Stephani family acquired Nickey Chevrolet in 1933, when
Tom's grandfather, Edward, got it in exchange for a mortgage he held on Mr. Nickey's home.
After successfully racing
for a few years, it was taken off the road until it was 'discovered' at the first Carlisle swap meet in 1974. It was purchased
by Chip Miller & Ken Heckert. After it's racing history was verified, it was sent to Kevin Mackay at Corvette Repair in
Valley Stream, NY to receive a full restoration.
PICTURES: Purple People Eater
Corvette Fever Article