This company also put a pre-built car in the auction for a prime Saturday time slot, (Lot 1246.1). The average price of one of these restyling conversions runs about $135,000, but this silver-over-red coupe was bid up to a sale price of $148,500. A Karl Kustom representative stated that he would have sold 15 cars over that weekend if they were on hand.
While most of the offerings that crossed the block Tuesday through Thursday fell well short of Top Flight status, the primetime auction slots were replete with cars touting legitimate NCRS credentials. However, there was no guarantee that the cars remained in Top Flight form when they were presented in Scottsdale. One of the most important things an auction buyer can do is bring along an expert who can verify that a potential buy is still in award-winning condition. An unscrupulous seller may seek to insulate himself from losses in a no-reserve situation by stripping the car of the hardest-to-find new old stock (N.O.S.) or original equipment (OE) parts.
Whenever buying Concours pedigree, a judging audit is a must-have. At the very least, take detailed photos of the engine bay and undercarriage, and send them to someone who has experience with the given generation of Corvette.
Lot 1320, for example, demonstrated the importance of verifying correctness. The description on this ’67 Corvette 427/435hp roadster read, “NCRS Regional Driven Top Flight awards, one in 2002, 2003, and 2004.” It then went on to describe a restoration in 2009 with zero miles on it, and no judging history since the restoration. The car still drew $154,000, quite a number considering that it didn’t have original documentation and wasn’t in the same condition that earned it Top Flight.
Lot 1289 was another 427 Tri-Power car that boasted a show-car pedigree, with Top Flight and Duntov Awards having been conferred in 1998. Note that judging standards and the quality of restoration have progressed markedly in the past two decades. The red/red color combination and documentation (which included the factory tank sticker) boosted this car’s value, but should have been tempered by the re-stamped engine block and outdated pedigree. Still, the car earned a stout $209,000 after the 10-percent buyer’s premium was paid. Critics decry prices like these, which aren’t duplicated in the private market or based solely on the merits of the vehicle. For this seller, however, selling at auction proved a wise choice indeed.
Collectors unwilling to risk the ironclad no-reserve environment of Barrett-Jackson brought their cars to the other auctions going on concurrently in Scottsdale. RM Auctions typically has a more mature buyer, geared principally toward exotics and pre-war vintage cars. The Corvette is at home here, respected as the only true American sports car. First-gen and midyear cars do well in this environment.
Lot 267 at RM was a solid example of a ’67 427/435 Sting Ray roadster. Owned by Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson and finished in Tuxedo Black over Black with a red stinger, the car was striking at first glance. It was also listed vaguely as a “former NCRS Top Flight Award winner.” A closer look suggested that the certificate must have been awarded more than 10 years ago. The car was in very good condition and detailed for presentation, but oxidation was starting to show on exposed metal, and underside patina indicated that it had been converted to driving duty during its recent ownership. At a final settlement price of $164,000, the car earned no more than its merits allowed, despite the celebrity ownership.
Interestingly, solid-axle Corvettes also found their core audience at RM. Several of them were lined up for inspection early on, their Arctic Blue, Harvest Gold, and Cascade Green paint schemes giving the appearance of a color-book reunion. Normally, when so many cars of the similar vintage are crowded into the same place, the overall transaction prices suffer, and that appeared to be the case here.
The highlight was a ’57 Fuelie, Lot 276, boasting an October 2010 NCRS Top Flight win. It was rewarded with a winning bid of $115,500. While a similar ’58 Fuelie (Lot 1264.2) earned $121,000 at Barrett-Jackson, RM’s more forgiving commission structure means the owner of the ’57 likely brought home just as much money. Even so, the RM estimate placed the car’s value at between $120,000 and $140,000.