Top-tier collector Corvettes must satisfy a specific criteria to be considered part of this exclusive group. This 1965 “Big Tank Fuelie” excels in all aspects that encompass its unique factory equipment, documentation provenance, racing pedigree, world-class restoration and elite judging awards.
The Corvette was ordered new and uniquely optioned by Dave Parsons of Merriam, Kansas, for the purpose of competing on the racing circuit, with Parsons specifying the desired equipment for his “’65 Z06” on August 20, 1964 at Van Chevrolet in Shawne Mission, Kansas. Race-oriented options included the L84 327/375 HP fuel-injected engine, M20 4-speed transmission, G81 3.70 Positraction rear axle, F40 special suspension and, most importantly, the N03 36.5-gallon racing fuel tank. The remainder of the extensive option list for this Silver Pearl 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe was rounded out with equipment of both purpose and comfort, which included P91 4-Ply nylon blackwall tires, P48 cast aluminum knock-off wheels, K66 transistor ignition and N11 off-road exhaust, as well as black leather upholstery, the N36 telescoping steering wheel, U69 AM/FM radio, A01 tinted glass and the Z01 comfort and convenience group including a no-glare day/night rearview mirror and back-up lights.
Due to the unique option requests, Parsons waited four months for his Corvette to be built. He finally took delivery after the New Year on January 15, 1965. Unbeknownst at the time, this 1965 Corvette would be one of only 41 produced with the N03 36.5-gallon fuel tank and thought to be one of only six that combined the racing fuel tank with the L84 fuel-injected engine in its last year of availability.
Parsons joined the Kansas City Corvette Club and began competing in Autocross. He then obtained his SCCA racing license and started competing in SCCA B-Production racing events. The car was sponsored by Stafford Performance Racing, raced mainly in Kansas and Missouri, but it also made appearances as far away as Indianapolis, Road Atlanta and Sebring. By the mid-1970s, Parsons decided to quit racing and put the car into storage.
Kipp Anderson from Olathe, Kansas, discovered the car and knew that big gas tank was something special. In 1980, he persuaded Parsons to sell him the 1965 Corvette and he became the second owner. In 1984, the Corvette was sold to Joe Malicke of Country Corvettes in Nortonville, Kansas, for a handsome sum of money—given it was completely disassembled. Malicke immediately resold the Tanker to New Jersey-based Corvette collector Ed Mueller. (Interestingly, Mueller purchased the Corvette on January 15, 1985, exactly 20 years, to the day, after Parsons took delivery.)
Jay Stahl of Roscoe, Illinois, found out about the car in 1987 at the NCRS National meet held at Osage Beach, Missouri. A close friend told him Mueller had such a car, and he approached Mueller to ask about the vehicle. Finding that the story was true, letters were exchanged between Stahl and Mueller. It soon became evident Mueller intended to restore the Tanker. Stahl continued to keep track of any progress concerning this special Fuelie. In 1988, Ed Mueller traded the Big Tank Fuelie to Jamie Mazzotta. J.D. Purvis then brokered a deal for Stahl to acquire the car from Mazzotta in December 1988. Soon after purchasing the car, Stahl began writing letters and making phone calls to previous owners to learn as much about the car’s history as possible.
Stahl embarked on a mission to return the car to exactly how it left the St. Louis assembly plant as a new car. As a Bloomington Gold “Benchmark” and N.C.R.S. “Master” judge who specializes in 1965 Corvettes, Stahl’s research on factory production methods and original components helped tremendously during the restoration. Lead by fellow Corvette expert Gary Bosselman, the restoration took more than 20 years to complete. Only original and correctly configured/dated new-old-stock components were sourced, with many parts taking years to locate and purchase. Special care was taken to ensure the exterior lacquer paint, engine compartment, undercarriage and interior finishes were correctly applied to look exactly how they did when it rolled off the assembly line. Even the nose emblem (‘65 only) and the fuel-injection fender emblems are OEM, original, unrestored parts with unique, correct colors.
The car retains its original 327/ 375 HP fuel-injected engine, one of only 771 built during the final year of production. It was also one of only 168 to leave the factory with RPO P91: 4-ply nylon blackwall tires. Stahl states this car has the only complete set of U.S. Royal Super Safety 800 XP non-DOT tires known to the Corvette community, which are mounted on the original Kelsey-Hayes aluminum knock-off wheels. Inside the cockpit, the black leather seats, door panels, complete dash and cluster, glovebox door and carpets are OEM original. The console and seat belts, as well as the clutch, brake and accelerator pedals, are rare GM NOS components.
After the restoration was completed, the car earned Bloomington Gold Certification in 2010 with a score of 99.3. It also took home N.C.R.S. Top Flight awards at the Regional and Chapter levels in 2010. The following year a special event was hosted at Superior Chevrolet (formerly Van Chevrolet) to reunite the original owner Dave Parsons, crew chief Garland Wilson and co-racer/sponsor Randy Stafford with the Corvette they had campaigned more than 40 years prior. During that same weekend the car was given a platinum award by the Kansas City Corvette Association. More accolades followed in 2015 when the Big Tank Fuelie was invited to be part of Bloomington Gold’s inaugural Gold Collection, which recognized a special group of 1965 Corvettes for a 50th Anniversary salute. Later in 2015, the car was displayed at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, where it won Concours Gold, the Judges Choice Platinum Pick for stock Corvette class and Triple Diamond Certification. The Corvette earned its third NCRS Top Flight award at the Meadowdale Raceway judging event in 2018.
One of six Big Tank Fuelie Corvettes built in 1965 and the only known example with original paperwork, this car’s extensive documentation includes the buyer’s order (including rewrite), the original window sticker, new car invoice, all glovebox paperwork (including the radio tag, instruction sheet and AM/FM booklet), warranty book with Protect-O-Plate, owner’s manual, survey with letter and return envelope, original Corvette owners kit with wallet card, lapel pin, jacket patch and a letter from Bunkie Knudsen. As for racing, documentation includes vintage racing photographs, programs and papers compiled by Dave Parsons from SCCA events, Parsons’ racing suit, helmet and fire extinguisher, dash plaques and trophies won by Dave Parsons during his racing career. This Tanker was also inducted into the Registry of Corvette Race Cars by Jim Gessner. Ownership history is documented with copies of all previous titles back to the original MSO, correspondence between Stahl and previous owners, extensive research documentation, and two binders filled with restoration photos.
David Burroughs, the founder of Bloomington Gold, was extremely impressed by the restoration of this car. While on display for Bloomington Gold judging, Burroughs referenced how accurately the vehicle duplicated the exact factory look. This Corvette became the poster car for a new judging criteria called “The Spirit of St. Louis Award,” which Burroughs described as “the most unique challenge in collector car restoration.” The award was intended for completely restored Corvettes that accurately represented the true “Industrial Art” as it rolled off the St. Louis assembly line. While the Spirit of St. Louis award never came to fruition, the endorsement from David Burroughs stands as a testament to the extreme accuracy of this Corvette’s restoration.
Arrangements to purchase this vehicle can be made directly by contacting Mecum representative Rob Williams by phone or text at (262) 236-7705 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.