The 2014 auction season is off and running and if the first few days’ results are any indication this year is going to set records in prices and attendance. Barrett-Jackson kicked off the season on Sunday, January 12th, with their legendary auction extravaganza and so far have seen attendance jump by 25%. In addition the prices paid have set a precedent for the highest for initial first few days, days traditionally know for “bargains”.
This year Barrett-Jackson has kicked off their Scottsdale event in an all new “bricks and mortar” facility. The original auction tent is attached to the new facility and brings the combined length of the main facility to almost a mile from one end to the other. The new facility and layout raises the bar not only in terms of space for cars and vendors but in convenience and amenities for attendees. And this year, in addition to the new facility the entire auction layout has been improved and expanded.
So let’s get to the Corvettes. Wednesday saw the first group of Corvettes cross the block. These were primarily the base engine second generation cars and some small and large block C3′s as well as a sprinkling of C4′s and C1′s. Overall the prices were strong with C2 unrestored drivers bringing close to $50K including the buyer’s premium. The better “driver” quality third generation cars with big blocks or the LT1, were being hammered in the $40K to $45K range while some base engine, automatic “unrestored survivors” went for as low as $13,750.
A restored 1970 Donnybrooke green, 4 speed, small block sold for almost $30K and a 1971 Sunfire Yellow LT1 brought $37.4K. Lot 479, a documented, original engine 1971 Brands Hatch Green LT1 realized $50K. The C4′s brought close to $20K while a 590 original mile 1990 ZR1 topped $48K . A nice red 1962 C1 convertible sold for $60.5K.
The three Corvette highlights of the first three days were lot 7001, a fully restored satin silver 1964 coupe, Lot 528 a 1966 Sunfire yellow convertible and a Lot 563, a 1978 third generation Indy pace car that had never been titled and in storage since it was delivered to the dealership. All of these cars brought strong prices.
The 1964 Corvette coupe (lot 7001) was a fully documented, matching number 300 HP, 327 cubic inch 4 speed that had undergone a frame-off restoration with all factory chalk markings and exposed natural fiberglass undercarriage. The car was equipped with power steering and power brakes. It had been Bloomington judged and certified and was a past AACA First Place Winner. It was hammered down for $74,800 including the buyer’s premium ($68K hammer price).
Lot 528 was freshly painted Sunfire yellow 1966 Coupe with a 327/350hp and a 4-speed convertible. It was equipped with power steering, knock-off wheels with white wall tires and 65K miles. It brought the same price as the fully restored 1964 coupe, $74.8K.
The third featured Corvette on Wednesday was a new, never registered, 1978 Indy Pace car (lot 563) built with the Hi-Performance L82 engine, and the important 4-speed transmission and Gymkhana suspension. The car had been kept in climate controlled storage at a Canadian dealership and had 34 original miles on it when the hammer fell. Claimed to be the finest Corvette Pace Car in existence it sold for $82,500.
It is interesting to see the importance of the way a 1978 Pace car is equipped in regards to value, especially the importance of the 4 speed transmission. Wednesday’s auction showed just how important the 4 speed and Gymkhana suspension is in valuing the car. Compare lot 563 to another never titled 1978 Pace car (lot 569) with 17 original miles and equipped with an automatic transmission. Lot 569 just came off of an original MSO from a Chevy dealer. It was found in a Chevy dealership that closed in 1999. The car had the original window sticker intact and even the seat plastic had not been removed. Even the Indianapolis 500 decals are still in the box and had never been applied. Lot 569 is documented with the original build sheet and original invoice from GM showing retail price and dealer hold back. It has the 350/220hp L82 engine, automatic transmission, and had never been dealer prepped. The automatic, lot 569, sold for $52.8K, almost $30K less than the 4 speed, lot 563.
If prices continue like they have during the “bargain” first three days, the balance of the auction should be more than exciting for Corvette enthusiasts, especially when the 1967 L88 coupe crosses the block on Saturday afternoon. Corvette expert Roy Sinor says this may be the finest L88 Corvette in the world. Current estimates expect this car to bring over $3M but if the current trends continue we will see a new world’s record auction price for a Corvette.
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can see his website at revenantrt.blogspot.com
Photo Credits: Barrett-Jackson
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