Article Contributed by Steve Burns
Each January marks the annual festival known as the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Collector Car Auction. This year’s sale is significant as its Barrett-Jackson’s 40th anniversary event. Support events kicked off January 9th and hit full speed on January 15th. Included among the 1,000+ cars selling at no reserve are roughly 130 corvettes. Over the next few days we’ll take a look and some of the more significant Vettes crossing the block at Barrett-Jackson.
First up we’ll take a look at a couple of 1981 Corvette Coupes – Lots 441 and 441.1. Right now you’re probably wondering why we’re featuring a pair of 1981 Corvettes – especially 2 beige colored ones. If you caught B-J’s 2010 Las Vegas event, you’ll probably recall seeing this duo as they sold for charity for $300,000. The winning bidder promptly donated the cars back and here they are again for Scottsdale 2011.
In 1981 the Corvette and the rest of the auto industry were coming out of an era of low horsepower and engine-choking emission controls. The C3 was nearing the end of its run and the C4 couldn’t arrive soon enough. The lone engine choice netted you 190hp backed by either a 4 speed or an automatic. Sadly, this was the last year for a manual transmission until the 4+3 showed in the C4.
Model year 1981 also marked the launch of the all new Bowling Green, Kentucky assembly plant. For only the 3rd time in its lifetime Corvettes would be built at a new location. Several unique features appeared on cars from each of the plants. St. Louis and Bowling Green cars had their own unique VIN sequence. St. Louis cars were painted with lacquer paint and cars leaving Bowling Green were shod in a new paint technology known as basecoat-clearcoat. Two tone paint schemes were applied in Bowling Green while all St Louis cars wore a single shade of paint.
Lot #441 is the 1st car built and the shiny new Bowling Green plant. It rolled of the line on June 1st, 1981 and was subsequently used for an auction. After which it was gobbled up by private collectors from the original owners and still remains in as-new condition showing just 14 original miles. The 1st BG car is finished in beige and dark bronze two-tone and powered by the venerable L81 backed by an automatic transmission.
Lot #441.1 is the Last St. Louis Corvette and was born on July 31st, 1981. Just like its counterpart, this one is also completely original and shows only 4 original miles. The beige, 4 speed car has a hidden plaque on the right front fender well documenting it as the last St, Louis Corvette. Several noted Corvette enthusiasts documented the entire production of it with nearly 1,000 pictures.
The pair is once again being offered together for charity. They’ll have their turn under the lights and in front of the TV cameras on Wednesday night, January 19th. The combination of charity support and 2 very highly desirable unrestored Corvettes mean that we’re more than likely to see the sale price this time exceed the $300k we saw in Las Vegas.
Speed TV will be providing 40 hours of live coverage from Scottsdale beginning on Tuesday the 18th. Check out the full event and TV schedule.