None of those crazy burnouts leaving the dealership that some new Corvette owners preserve on video to show the world.
No sir, that’s not the style for legendary Corvette enthusiast/collector Rick Hendrick.
“I’ll go to the plant and watch it come off the line,” he told the Detroit Free Press this week. “They have an unbelievable Corvette museum there in Bowling Green, and I’ll put it in there for a few days and then bring it home.”
In case you missed the news, Hendrick is referring to the very first C8 mid-engine 2020 Corvette, for which he outbid everyone at the Barrett-Jackson Auction on Saturday in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Known for his collection of classic Corvettes that already included several milestone VINs, Hendrick had lost out over the summer in his attempt to secure the last C7 ever produced when a collector named Daniel Snyder outbid him at $2.7 million at Barrett-Jackson’s Northeast Auction. (Hendrick does own the first C7, a 2014 model that cost him $1 million.)
This time, Hendrick was not to be denied in his quest for the first C8, though he did tell the Free Press that he was getting “close to my limit” when the auctioneer finally hollered “Sold” at the $3 million mark over the enthusiastic screams of the crowd.
To the surprise of absolutely no enthusiast, Hendrick says he’ll never drive his very historic Corvette.
Instead, after the stint at the NCM, the CEO of Hendrick Automotive Group and chairman of Hendrick Motor Sports will eventually take VIN #1 home to Concord, N.C., where it will take a prime spot in his Heritage Center, a 58,000-square-foot building with nearly 210 of the rarest cars in the world inside, including 120 Corvettes, including the first built for 1955, 1956, 1957, and 2014, as well as the first C4 ZR1 to roll off the line.
And no, you can’t buy a ticket to see the cars; admission to this hallowed ground – which includes the first car built by Hendrick and his dad, a 1931 Chevrolet, and a racing trailer used by his son, Ricky, who died in a plane crash in 2004 – is by invitation only.
“I won’t ever drive it,” Hendrick said of his latest catch, noting that he’ll use his black GMC Tahoe SUV to get around instead. “I’ll put it away.”
He won’t put away the memories of last Saturday, however.
“I’ve been going to those auctions for 25 to 30 years, and I’ve bought a lot of No. 1s at auction for charity,” Hendrick says. “But nothing like this car. This had bidders from all over the world. It was so much drama. When you have the CEO of General Motors on the stage, that’s a big deal.”
Indeed, CEO Mary Barra, along with Corvette Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter, attended the auction.
Hendrick said the new mid-engine Corvette “is a car many people had their eye on.”
“I was hoping I could get it and it didn’t get out of my price range,” he said.
The Torch Red coupe that crossed the auction block last weekend was just a pre-production model, standing in for Hendrick’s actual car that will be built in Bowling Green in February – a top-of-the-line 3LT model with the Z51 package.
Hendrick, 70, says GM President Mark Reuss let him drive a pre-production example, which he described as “super special” and a “halo car” for dealers like himself. Hendrick sold his first Corvette, a ’63 roadster which he drove on his first date with his wife, to help buy his first car dealership in South Carolina. He has since bought back that car, which sits proudly in his Heritage Center, and now owns 94 dealerships, including 15 Chevrolet stores, across the nation.
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