Local racing legend Cliff Gottlob was featured recently in Hot Rod Magazine.

Gottlob’s 1965 Chevelle Z16, a car that he ordered after his time in the Army, was the topic of the article.

But there is more to the story: Gottlob’s Chevelle was the second car that was ordered. The first was a blue 1965 Chevrolet Corvette.

“Everything I do is a story,” Gottlob said with a laugh.

Army days

This story began when Gottlob was drafted into the Army in 1961. He already had forged relationships with several key Chevrolet players.

The company’s chief executive officer, Ed Cole, and manager of product performance, Vince Piggins, were among them.

Gottlob also had provided Chevrolet with research and development for its 409 engine.

While serving in Europe, Gottlob earned five engineering degrees. He also spent time learning and working with Ferrari on the famous Le Mans course. At the time, he ran diagnostics on the race cars.

“That was where I got a lot of experience and I got to learn,” Gottlob said. “Those Europeans at the time were a lot sharper about performance.”

Gottlob left the Army in 1965, but before he did, he was able to order the brand-new 1965 Corvette.

1965 Corvette

When Gottlob placed the 1965 Corvette order, he was promised one of the lower numbers of the production.

The Corvette he received — and sold without ever seeing — was the first one off the assembly line with the 396 big block engine, which only has seen 45,000 miles.

The 1965 Corvette is up for sale now and its third owner, Bill Mock, has it listed online for $1,425,396.65.

The car also was inducted into the Bloomington Gold Corvette Hall of Fame in June 2013.

Gottlob was aware the car had been put up for sale, but he was not aware of its price tag until Wednesday night.

“Are you kidding?” he said. “I’ll be. I had no idea.”

A humble legend

Gottlob remains humble about his racing accomplishments.

In many ways, he remains the same young man who cut his teeth racing Corvettes in 1960.

When he speaks about meeting Enzo Ferrari, he refers to the auto legend as “Mr. Ferrari.”

Regardless of the great advancements made in automotive racing due to Gottlob’s collaborations with major motor companies, he does not see himself as a celebrity.

“I’ve been luckier, probably, than any racer alive,” he said. “Because I had access to all this exotic stuff!”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *