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Russo & Steele Bringing Mint-Condition Mega-Muscle To Monterey

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On: Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 2:29PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Russo & Steele Bringing Mint-Condition Mega-Muscle To Monterey

For those of you raised on televised vs. in-person auctions, it might surprise you to discover that restomods, clones, phantoms and the rest of the not-actually-what-God-intended cars that fill-out an auction’s roster are just that: filler.

Sure, there’s a market for them, but there’s also a market for crystal meth and serial-number-free firearms. What do they all have in common? When it comes time to explain why you have any of them in your garage, the stress caused by all the necessary story-telling you’ll have to do will make you wish you’d never gotten involved with them, period.

That’s the difference between a Hemi ‘Cuda and a Barracuda with a Hemi; the latter requires equivocation while the former requires no explanation. Which one do YOU want?

OK, I get it. I own a Swiss-made-and-nearly-identical-to-the-real-thing copy of a watch named after a race track by a company that starts with “R” and ends with, well, you know. In my defense I am a journalist and therefore immune to high-paying jobs, but I can understand the overall desire for a “near-something” when the ACTUAL something isn’t within reach.

But cars are different (at least to me). When I see “Car X” somewhere I don’t want to have to look up its skirt to verify it’s the real thing. Oh, hang on… that’s the way it should be for EVERYONE, including—or perhaps specifically—the people that can afford the no-excuses, God-approved real thing.

Russo & Steele, an auction company you might never have heard of, is living up to its own event name, bringing both sports AND muscle cars (and more) to its 11th Annual "Sports & Muscle at The Marriott" sale in Monterey, Calif., August 18–20.

Below you will find four of the finest (as I see it) “real” muscle cars, with at least one from each of the former “Big Three” R&S has on offer. They are all cars you will NEVER have to explain—I have to, here, but YOU won’t—though they’re admittedly going to be of little help should you ALSO invest in meth or guns (apart from bail-collateral, I guess)...

Consignment #8510 — 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6 "Pilot Car" Earliest known/documented LS6 [estimated sale price $180k - $225k+]

“If it had wings it would fly.” That message was hand-written on this car’s build sheet, and it couldn’t have been more right. Acknowledged by just about everyone as the most muscle-laden muscle car of the “classic” era, nothing could out-power the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS6. Why? Those last three characters. “LS6” refers to the 454 cu. in. V8 that Chevy seriously undersold by claiming it produced just 450 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque when the real output was much higher. Any of the 4,475 LS6-equipped Chevelles built that year will near six figures, with $100k+ the norm for highly-optioned, well-documented-from-birth cars restored to concours-levels like this one. The reason the value estimate is so high here, however, is the fact that this is literally LS6 No. 1—the first vehicle to receive the LS6 engine, period, thanks to the GM exec who special-ordered it—thus the term “pilot car.” This leads me to use the drop-top version of this car’s price range—only a handful of these were built—and even that is just a guess as to the hammer price for this one-of-one weapons-grade Chevelle.

Consignment #8552 — 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 LS5 Convertible [$42k - $72k]

In similar condition to the “Pilot Car” coupe but with a convertible top (bonus) and the less-beastly 360hp “LS5” engine (minus), this is yet another rarest-of-the-rare model of the highly sought-after ’70 Chevelle SS 454. Out of 4,298 LS5s built, the auction company claims this car is one of just one of 22 LS5-engined, “Turbo 400” automatic-transmission-equipped convertible Chevelles “without the Cowl Induction hood.” [How’s THAT for specificity?] And while the desirable paint/interior color scheme and high number of options adds value to the car, nothing raises the asking price more than iron-clad documentation—which this car has—attesting to it being presented as-built.

Consignment #8538 — 1969 Ford (Mustang) Boss 429 coupe [$192k - $248k]

Though not as rare as its Chevy-built rivals, this Boss 429 is nonetheless one of just 857 built, with only 93 painted Raven Black, the rarest of that year’s five available colors. Like the LS6, this Mustang’s 429 cu. in. V8 was undersold power-wise with a rating of 375 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. Unlike the Chevelles, however, the Boss 429 wasn’t factory-produced. Instead, the job of stuffing this monster motor into the Mustang’s (relatively) small engine bay—and reengineering everything near there to make it fit—was given to outside firm Kar Kraft. Restored to better-than-new condition, this black-on-black Boss is sure to bring in bucks by the boatload.

Consignment #8590 — 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda coupe [$116k - $185k+]

Hemi ‘Cudas—especially 1970 models—are regular fixtures on the auction scene, with at least one showing up at every event (there’s TWO here!). But out of all the muscle cars on offer at this sale, this is truly the only one-of-one in its ORIGINAL condition. That’s right, folks, this baby’s not only loaded with just about every option one could hope to find in a ‘Cuda—with the docs that prove they were there when she left the factory—but she’s been verified by THE expert on these cars to be as-built and with just 18,900 original miles. And not only does this car come with every scrap of paper ever associated with it, it comes with the ORIGINAL TIRES. My No. 1 pick of the sale, this ‘Cuda has only one thing going against it: driving it would diminish its value, and it would kill me to forever “look” at this ‘Cuda without “touching.”

These are just four of the finest-of-the-fine muscle cars Russo and Steele are offering in Monterey, and in addition to others the firm is auctioning just about every other kind of vehicle as well, including American and European classics, sports cars, racing cars, custom cars and more.

Visit Russo & Steele's website to see—and covet—them all.

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