I finally understood the "dust" factor of which Lance spoke. The cars were not pristine. Pontiac, Buick and Chevrolet passenger cars mixed with the Corvettes. For example, I ran across a '99 Oldsmobile "442" Custom Coupe built for the SEMA show in Las Vegas. On most of the information cards on the windshield of each vehicle I read the words, "Sold on a Bill of Sale." I also ran across the 1994 Camaro ZL1 that Lance mentioned to me. Corvette people like all muscle cars, especially the GM brand.
The auction was full of GM and Corvette enthusiasts. Readers will recall the name Steve Coffey. His pair of Lingenfelter twin turbo's appeared in our December 2008 issue. Steve bought the wide body Lingenfelter a couple years ago at Barrett-Jackson. He was looking to add to his collection if a hot Corvette came up at a great price.
Then, out of the blue, Coffey got totally intrigued with a 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 W-30 muscle car parked in a vendor space. Red with black stripes, the two-door hardtop looked brand new. A girl in the vendor space told Steve the 4-4-2 had 300 original miles and GM owned the car since new. "Buying a 1970 model that's brand new from GM," Coffey traveled in time back to his youth. He had to have this car if the story was true. We went looking for GM representatives to corroborate the car's provenance. We found them at the GM display for the Camaro. WE finally determined that GM had owned the 4-4-2 since the early 1990s when Sylvester Stallone drove the car in a movie. Right away, Steve lost his enthusiasm. The car was merely a restoration and not really GM owned since new.
It seemed everybody was throwing around the word concept for every GM car. I wanted to know how many of the GM collection, especially the Corvettes, were truly "concept" vehicles in the real definition. Brian Baker of GM Design called the Snake Skinner "an engineering development car." "There are a few concept cars here like the Buick Blackhawk. But, the Corvettes? Many of them were created by John Heinricy and the madmen out at our proving grounds."
What Kevin Mackay had said earlier in the day started to make sense. GM was cleaning out cars they had in duplicate and triplicate, such as the 1989 Corvette ZR1's. The ZR1 didn't come out until the 1990 model year. They did build 83 of the 1989 ZR1's. Just four remained. "We don't' need four of them. We need one to represent the era," Baker said. Baker offered clarity when he said, "The Heritage fleet is 1,000 cars. The Heritage Collection is about 300 of those cars. The balance of the cars are SEMA, race, enthusiast cars that helped launch new vehicles. So our quote Heritage Collection, which is our museum type cars, that is about 30% of the overall fleet."
I felt better that GM's collection was still intact. I also felt great that a small percentage of these cars could reach collectors hands. There was an era when GM just crushed the cars. I like the auction-era much better.