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Mecum Set To Offer 400 Corvettes, Five Of Which Are Here. Hooray For Playing Favorites!

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On: Mon, Jun 13, 2011 at 3:53PM | By: Andrew W Davis


Mecum Set To Offer 400 Corvettes, Five Of Which Are Here. Hooray For Playing Favorites!

I would like to say that I’m an expert in all things automotive (or at least be able to say it with a straight face and/or in public), but just like categories involving popes and kings are my Jeopardy kryptonite, Corvettes—and their myriad configurations—kill me every time.

I could probably learn a lot visiting St. Charles, Illinois, and if I do it June 23-26 some of that learning would undoubtedly involve Corvettes, thanks to the 2011 Bloomington Gold show—self-billed as “America’s Original Corvette Show”—at the nearby(?) Pheasant Run Resort.

Problem is I usually equate “good” with “expensive,” so in order to know how good a particular Corvette model is—or how much better it is than another—I need to know what it’s worth.

Enter the folks at Mecum Auctions, and their “Corvette Exclusive” Bloomington Gold auction event nestled into the same time (June 24-25) and space (the show grounds) as the Bloomington event with which it shares its name.

The folks at Mecum say they plan to move around 400 Corvettes of all kinds during their two-day shindig, and while you might expect half that number to be recent-era dealer demos, lease returns or the like, between their “Featured-” and “Star-”designated cars it’s clear that if you’re looking to buy a low-cost beater ‘Vette you need to look elsewhere.

But with the exception of the first-year, one-of-300 1953 models—and 1983 models, seeing as how they don’t technically exist—every other year, if not every model FROM every year, seems like it’ll be there.

I now present my “Top Five” list of Corvettes due to be offered at this auction, chosen both because I think they’re the ones actual experts would choose, and because they’re the ones I’d want to own, are shiny and/or are orange. [One is all three!]

Lot S77: 1966 Corvette “Benchmark” Convertible 427/425 hp, 4-speed

They say provenance is everything in the auction game, and what’s true for Ferraris is true for Corvettes. If you want to measure yours against another guy’s in the Corvette world, you submit your car for National Corvette Restorers Society (NCRS) and Bloomington Gold judging. The owner of this ’66 did and his has been found to be, well, worthy of all the highest awards (we’re talking NCRS Top Flight and Bloomington Gold, Survivor and Benchmark—“America’s most prestigious Corvette Award”—certification). Oh, and the car’s nice, too. It’s Laguna Blue with a black leather interior and black top and is “optioned as documented with the new-for-1966 427/425 HP big block, 4-speed manual, side exhaust, transistor ignition, heavy duty suspension, and auxiliary hard top,” all of which will add up to $$$$ come sale time.

http://www.mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=BG0611-111968&entryRow=92

Lot S78: 1968 Corvette L88 Coupe 427/430 hp, 4-speed

You don’t need to be Terry Michaelis (shout out!) to know that any “L88” is Corvette royalty, and while this isn’t a “Holy Grail” (1967 model year) car, the owner of this fire-breathing ’68 L88 will never have to complain or explain about this “Lemans Blue” beauty. Said to be one of just 80 1968 L88s built—and the only one to “star” in the film “Hells Angels ‘69”—this restored-to-original example is equipped with all the major goodies, including the “M22 4-speed, Positraction, transistorized ignition, off-road exhaust, F41 suspension, heavy duty power disc brakes and telescopic steering.” Though its engine and transmission are not “date coded March 1968” like the rest of the car, I can promise you that the bid that takes this one home will shock you worse than the insipid movie in which this L88 “stars” (copy of “film” included with purchase).

http://www.mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=BG0611-111969&entryRow=92

Lot S99: 1971 Corvette ZR2 Convertible 454/425 hp, 4-speed

This one is my favorite, and not just because it’s Ontario Orange. Though “ZR1” means the pinnacle of Corvette performance today, 40 years ago that designation—which you’ll see again with Lot S103 in a bit—was the pinnacle of SMALL-block performance whereas ZR2 (one higher so you know it has to be better) meant that the driver was suicidal because the same “LS6” 454 cu. in. big-block that made Chevelles killing machines had been shoehorned into a fiberglass Corvette-shaped bullet. Not surprisingly the engine didn’t make it into many Corvettes—12 total with just TWO convertibles, including this one—and while it may make this machine a lousy daily driver, it will also make it mind-bendingly expensive. Oh, and just in case that didn’t “do” it for you, this particular car is a one-of-one in many respects as well, including being the only documented “COPO” of its kind, and, owing to its May 1971 build date, it is not only the last ZR2 ever produced, but it’s also the “last high performance production big block produced by Chevrolet… period. ” Did I mention that it’s orange?

http://www.mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=BG0611-111990&entryRow=92

Lot S101: 1969 Corvette L89 Coupe 427/435 hp, 4-speed

Speaking of “one more,” this Fathom Green beauty is stuffed with what would seem to be an even better version of the aluminum-head 427 cu. in. V8 as an L88—“88” IS less than “89” and the latter is “rated” at five more horsepower—but it ain’t. Don’t get me wrong; an L89 can make you wee just as easily as an L88, but the difference is that an L89 CAN kill you, whereas an L88 will TRY to. So, if you’re looking to do more than just stare at it or tell people about it, the (RELATIVELY) tame L89 should be your target of choice rather than the race-intended L88. This here ’69, for instance, is one of just 390 produced that year with the L89 Tri-Power V8, plus it’s “augmented with transistor ignition and matched to a close-ratio 4-speed and FB 4.11 Positraction rear end.” Though not a true top-down-style cruiser, you can still get plenty of rays once you remove and stow this coupe’s two-panel roof. It’s a pity, though, that this machine’s “Saddle”-tinted interior probably won’t see much sun as this baby’s just 300 miles into its body-off-restored life and will be priced somewhere just “one less” than nosebleed/L88 territory.

http://www.mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=BG0611-111992&entryRow=92

Lot S103: 1970 Corvette ZR1 Convertible 350/370 hp, 4-speed

Now, this is a Corvette for the guy who likes explaining Corvettes—usually to people who are dumb as a bag of hammers—at the local Show ‘n’ Shine. So I’m going to tell you—no offense meant—what he should tell them: “Chevrolet produced just 25 examples of the ultimate small block Corvette for 1970, the mighty ZR1. This absolutely stunning Classic White on Blue example is one of only 8 convertible versions equipped with that package, which includes the LT1 350/370 HP engine, M22 “Rock Crusher” 4-speed, 4.11 Positraction, heavy duty brakes and suspension, lightweight flywheel, and L88 starter. Once prepared by Dick Guldstrand for SCCA solo competition, it was restored by Chuck Berge and has earned both NCRS Top Flight and Bloomington Gold certification. This very special Corvette is a three-owner California car with full history and documentation.” [OK, I stole that from Mecum’s own description, but I’m sure some Corvette genius thought it up and why would I mess with perfection?] If the right two guys are in the room, this thing could easily elicit better-than-a-big-block bids, but I’ll bet that the present owner knows exactly what he (or she) has—they’ve explained it often enough—and will take it back home rather than settle for anything less.

http://www.mecum.com/auctions/lot_detail.cfm?LOT_ID=BG0611-111994&entryRow=92

I invite you to peruse all 12 pages—eight cars per page—of Corvettes Mecum is set to offer up, and come up with lists of your own. I am sure you can think of plenty of reasons why my pre-1966 and post-1971 blind spot is keeping me from seeing why my choices are dumb for yadda-yadda reasons and whatever.

Like I said up-top, I chose five Corvettes from the field of 400 based, basically, on my personal desire to put them in my garage. Sure, you can point to price-guide prices or what have you—and I’ll watch eagerly to see what my five sell for (or are bid to)—but that won’t change my coveting of these five fine Corvettes.

[Except maybe if the rest were orange. If you own an orange version of one of the orange-deficient cars on my list—and are willing to donate it to my "foundation"—contact me at…]


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Comments

reply

RoadKill | 9:47AM (Tue, Jun 14, 2011)

I love to watch Mecum Auctions on DiscoveryHDthey have some beautiful old cars. Many for ridiculous money, but many are still affordable to the average Joe....


reply

snake | 11:05AM (Tue, Jun 14, 2011)

400 Vettes at Mecum.....I have an appointment with my big screen TV and a six pack!


reply

ou812 | 11:41AM (Tue, Jun 14, 2011)

great article, brings back some old memories on those vintage vettes, Mecum has some great auctions.


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