San Diego can lay claim to a lot of things: great weather, beautiful beaches, good sports teams, and, of course, the world-famous Comi-Con convention. But until now the city had never hosted a major auto auction. As of this past Father's Day weekend, that item can be checked off San Diego's to-do list. RM came to town and hosted one heck of a muscle-car and Corvette auction. And the best part was that all the cars would be going at no reserve.
The event circled around the exquisite collection of Glen Konkle. Konkle has been collecting cars for years, and as he said during his remarks before the first car rolled across the blocks, "These are the cars I saw on Woodward Avenue when I was growing up in Detroit." They must have left a big impression on Konkle, because he brought out some of the finest and highest horsepower cars Detroit ever produced. In addition to his Corvettes, he had up for auction 17 GTOs, three Z-28s, several SS Chevelles (including a rare '70 SS454 LS6 convertible and an even rarer '65 Z-16), and five Olds 442s; his Ford muscle-car parade was headed by a pair of Boss 429 Mustangs. In total, Konkle cleaned 109 vehicles out of his garage, and I was told he still has a large collection. During his remarks he even hinted that they may go up on the block in two years.
RM hosted an indoor preview showing on Friday afternoon, in the grand ballroom of the Town & Country hotel. This was a good chance for potential buyers to take a close look at the cars in an exceptionally pleasant environment of cool air conditioning and plush carpets, while soft jazz played in the background. Small flashlights could be seen blinking around the engine compartments and undersides of the cars, as potential buyers checked numbers and condition. That night RM hosted a private reception for the registered bidders. Jim Wangers, Godfather of the GTO, was in attendance and was also selling four of his Firebirds the next day.
Early Saturday morning all of the cars were outside, ready for inspection. Bidders were again closely inspecting their favorite cars and checking documentation. By 11 a.m., just before the first car rolled through the blocks, the place was buzzing like a room full of bookies on fight night. Everyone was anxious to see where the price bar would be set. The first car to come through was a beautifully restored '65 GTO. It sold for $48,000-less than half the cost of the restoration alone. It was going to be a very interesting auction.
The first Corvette up on the block was a red '65 fuel-injected coupe. While an older restoration, it looked very good. But like the GTO, its price of $53,000 must have been a little disappointing for the seller. Another red '65 coupe, this one powered by a 365-horsepower engine, rolled through shortly after and sold for only $40,000. The Corvette following it, a '66 big-block coupe, stirred more bidder interest with a winning bid of $72,500.
The fifth Corvette up for bid, a '69 roadster, got everyone's attention. Not only was it a fully documented, 11,000-mile survivor, but it was also highly optioned, including the L71 435hp, 427 engine. Bids came fast from the floor, through the phone lines, and across the Internet. When the gavel fell, the winning bidder had offered up $210,000 for this Bloomington Gold Survivor award winner. Big-blocks continued to bring the most interest, and the highest bids, as confirmed by lot No. 126, a '67 Marina Blue, 435hp roadster. This Bloomington Gold/NCRS Top Flight award winner also won its class at the 2003 Meadow Brook Concours. The bidding ended at $195,000 for this exquisitely restored Corvette.
The room was still reverberating from the sound of the gavel when the first of two '69 L88s came up for bid. It was documented as being the only Monza Red with Saddle leather L88 built that year. This numbers-matching coupe had only one owner until 2005, and it only registered 2,265 miles on the odometer. The low mileage was acquired a quarter-mile at a time, as the original owner drag raced it for five years prior to its restoration. Following the restoration, it notched Bloomington Gold and NCRS Top Flight awards. As the gavel fell today, it cost the high bidder $365,000 to take it home. The second of the L88s also boasted Bloomington Gold certification and a low odometer reading of 21,000 miles. This L88 is one of only 17 originally equipped with a Turbo-400 transmission and was appropriately dubbed "Automatically Yours" during its drag-racing days. It was bid up to a respectable $192,500 when the gavel finally banged down.
In addition to Konkle's 19 Corvettes, there were nine additional ones brought by various owners; they also sold with no reserve. The most interesting was a red, fuel-injected '60 roadster. This matching-numbers, multiple NCRS award winner commanded a solid $81,000.
In addition to the prices listed above, the buyers were required to pay a 10 percent buyer's premium. This translates to a total of 6.9 million dollars being exchanged for 109 cars. The top seller was the Monza Red '69 L88, which, with the buyer's premium, went out the door for $401,500.
While prices fell short of the over-inflated sums recorded a few years ago, they were ultimately satisfying for both buyers and sellers in San Diego. This auction confirmed that Corvettes, especially big-block models, are still worthy investments.