The 5 Most Rare Factory-built Muscle Cars

March 29, 2011

Most car enthusiasts know that some of the most rare cars in the world were special ordered with very specific requests and that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to make them that way.  The cars that were factory-made, but still incredibly rare, get casted in the shadows because they are considered not as glamorous and sold for less money.  This article wants to commend these rare, factory-built vehicles and bring them out into the spotlight they deserve.

The 1970 Dodge Super Bee 426 Hemi Fastback is the first rare vehicle we will look at today.  With only 4 ever produced (all manual) with the 426 Hemi engine, the car could produce 425hp at 5000rpm and rip from 0 to 60mph in 5.3 seconds.  All of the Super Bee’s in 1970 were given an extreme new nose design to go with Dodge’s new motto that their cars had to be “new and radical”.  Dodge also added new colors like Plum Crazy (which was the most popular color) and Panther Pink (which was the least popular).  Dodge also offered the vehicles at a lower base price of $3,074, but the majority of the public found these changes to be a bit too much for them, and sales for this vehicle year dropped “radically.”

One hundred and fifty-two 1970 Plymouth Road Runners 426 Hemi’s were built, but only three of them were in the convertible style (1 manual, 2 automatic).  In all of the ’70 Road Runners, new standard options were added like a new grille, leather seats, front fenders, quarter panels and single-piston Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes.  When adding the Hemi engine options, the cost increased by $715, but also included the Air Grabber hood that could be controlled by a button from under the dash and went from solid to hydraulic lifters.  This particular model produced 425hp at 5000rpm and went from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds.

The 1969 Chevrolet Corvette ZL-1 427 2D Coupe was originally ordered as a company car for a corvette plant resident engineer from St. Louis.  It ended up being one of only 3 of these type of vehicles ever produced.  This vehicle boasted a L88 special turbo jet 427 V8 engine, F41 special purpose suspension, a ZL-1 aluminum cylinder block and a heavy duty transmission and brake system.  This seemed to be GM’s last big stand against emission controls on economy cars, as it produced 500hp.  The ZL-1 style added over $3,000 to the price tag, which gave the vehicle an astounding total of $10,771.

The 1970 Dodge Coronet R/T 426 Convertible was special because while 296 vehicles were made in the convertible style, only two of them had the 426 Hemi engine, which cost $718 more than other engines.  During this year, the Coronet model received all new front sheet metal, a smooth, split grille, a bumble bee stripe along the rear and dummy rear fender scoops.  The 426 Hemi engine could put out 425bhp/5,000rpm and could roar from 0-60mph in around 6 seconds.  Due to low sales of the convertible styles in all of the Coronets, 1970 became the last year the convertible style was used for the Coronet.

Two hundred and thirty-eight 1967 Dodge Coronet R/T 426 Hemi’s were produced, but only two of them were in the convertible style (one automatic and one manual).  During this model year, Dodge started offering the R/T (Road and Track) versions of the Coronet.  They also gave the model a facelift for both the front and rear by giving it simulated air vents, a Charger like grille, and racing stripes.  Bucket seats also became an option, though this year did not offer retractable headlights like the Charger offered.  This vehicle sold for $3895 ($3438 base + $457 Hemi engine).


The Mullin Automotive Museum: A Tribute to French Classic Cars of the 20’s and 30’s

March 22, 2011

A new automotive museum opened in Oxnard, California in February called The Mullin Automotive Museum.  This museum pays homage to art and autos of the Art Deco and Machine Age (1918-1941) in France.  One of the museums showrooms displays over 100 historic French vehicles including:  Delahaye, Delage, Voisin, Bugatti and Talbot-Lagos and coachwork from Figoni et Falaschi, Labourdette, Chapron, Gangloff, Saoutchik, and Letourneur et Marchand.  The museum is also exhibiting 30 vehicles with Pebble Beach winning restorations and French classics from the Grand Prix and the Le Mans.  Finally, the museums touts that they have an entire floor dedicated to the Bugatti, cleverly named “Club Bugatti”.

The 46,821 sq. ft. building that houses this beautiful collection of automotive history was bought by Peter Mullin, whose passion for 1930’s French cars grew into him collecting, restoring, showing and even racing them.  He wanted this museum to serve as a legacy to the Art Deco and Machine Age era’s vehicles.  Mr. Mullin bought the building from well-known newspaperman, Otis Chandler, who used to house vintage cars in it and who properly named the building “The Vintage.”  After he passed in 2006, Mr. Mullin acquired the property and alongside architect, David Hertz, gave the entire building a huge overhaul.  This building features a roof garden, a theater, a gift shop and archives along with the main showrooms of the museum.  It is also an eco-friendly building that boasts having a solar photovoltaic roof system that captures energy and a planted “green” roof, which both help to be less dependent on traditional forms of energy.

If you are interested in visiting this museum, it is only open on exclusive dates from 10am-3pm.  The dates are all Saturdays and are listed on the website as follows:  March 26, April 9, April 23, May 14, June 11, June 25, July 9, and July 23.  Tickets must be purchased in advance.  It is $10/adult, $7/seniors, $5/children 5-12, and free for children under 5.  For more information, please visit the museum’s website

Ralph Lauren’s Garage is Going to a Museum

March 15, 2011

Many of us have taken a virtual peek inside of Jay Leno’s or Tim Allen’s garages and been pleased and even excited about the selection of vehicles that they own.  Well, if you were impressed with those, you will be awestruck with Ralph Lauren’s garage.  The renowned fashion designer owns a garage that holds 60+ of the most rare and valuable cars in the world.  In fact, they are so impressive; the Musee des Arts Decoratifs is borrowing them.

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs, in Paris, France, is crafting an exhibit called “The Art of the Automobile:  Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection”.  This exhibit will be on display from April 28-August 28, 2011.  It will feature many of the rare vehicles from Lauren’s, now notorious, garage including:  a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Scaglietti, a 1931 Alfa Romeo Monza 8C 2300, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, and a 1938 Bugatti 575SC Atlantic Coupe.  Not only is this collection rare, but it is incredibly expensive, as well.  The last two cars named are worth $30-40 million – each.

The D.A.D. Garage (acronyms from the names of Lauren’s children) is the name of the garage in Westchester, New York, where Lauren houses his astounding collection.  Upon entering, one would not know it was a garage, however, because it appears to only be a lobby and library.  Once permission is granted from Lauren or from one of the four people that staff the garage and keep the vehicles in perfect condition, one of the lobby walls slides away and you are welcomed into a wonderland of phenomenal cars.  The cars range from rare collectors to modern legends; they include  a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, a 1938 Alfa Romeo Mille Miglia Roadster, a Bugatti Veyron and a Lamborghini Murcielago SuperVeloce, just to name a few.  The most rare car that the garage can boast about holding is a 1930 Mercedes SSK “Count Trossi” roadster; it’s is the only vehicle of its type in existence.

For a recent article, Vanity Fair was given a tour of the garage by Mr. Lauren, himself.  When asked why he collected cars instead of rare paintings, he said, “You can’t drive a painting.”  He was also quick to point out that all of his vehicles are registered because he said, “I drive these cars.  They don’t just sit here.”  Isn’t it exciting to know that for those of us who are not lucky enough to be given a private tour of the cars, that we might just catch Mr. Lauren cruising around the streets of New York in one of them?

Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este by RM Auctions on May 21st, 2011

March 8, 2011

RM Auctions is holding its award-winning Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este auction off the shores of Lake Como in Italy on May 21, 2011.  RM Auctions, founded by Rob Myers in 1976 and headquartered in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, opened its own auction house in 1991 with partners Dan Warrener and Mike Fairbairn, which has now gone world-wide.  RM Auctions holds 4 of the 5 all-time records for the highest sale of a motor car sold at auction.  In May 2010, it matched its own record (May 2007 – Italy) for the highest single-day auction sales with $45 million at its Monaco auction.

The RM Auction boasts that its auction that will be held in Italy will feature “a limited, hand-picked selection of the world’s finest motor cars.”  While the lot continues to grow daily, some of the cars that are currently being featured are the 1955 Ferrari 375MM Berlinetta, the 1938 Talbot-Lago T1550C-SS Teardrop Coupe and the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen. The 375MM Berlinetta is the most desirable Ferrari model and was built to win world sports car championships.  It is described as one of only a handful built in the coupe style, the last with the “Mile Miglia” designation and a vehicle that has won many awards, including:  First Class at Pebble Beach, FCA Platinum and The Luigi Chinette award at The Quail, and The Cavallino Classic at the Villa d’Este.  The Talbot-Lago is featured as one of only 10 of the Goutte d’Eaus of the New York style and was one of only 3 that was fitted for a factory sunroof.  Finally, the Mercedes-Benz proclaims a class win at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and was 100-pont mechanically and cosmetically restored by RM auto Restoration.  It features factory coachwork with the desirable rear spare configuration and has low mileage.

The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este will be held at Spazio Villa Erba, Largo Luchino Visconti, 4 Cernobbio, Como 22012, Italy.  The actual sale will be from 8pm-11pm CET on May 21, 2011.  A Gala Reception will precede the sale from 6:30pm-8pm.  Preview dates for the sale are May 20 from 10am-6pm CET and May 21 from 10am-6pm CET.  To gain entrance to the auction, people must purchase an official auction catalogue for 70 Euro; this allows two to be admitted when the catalogue is presented at the entrance of the auction.  To order a catalogue, click here.

If you are interested in consignment of your vehicle, there is limited room and selection.  Contact someone for discussion of your vehicle here.  For information on how to buy, click here or for buyer information, click here.

Barrett-Jackson Auction in Palm Beach

March 1, 2011

The infamous Barrett-Jackson Car Auction will be having its Palm Beach, Florida auction for the 8th year on April 7-9, 2011.  The auction will be held at the South Florida Fairgrounds.  This year’s event will also be featured live on the SPEED network (April 7th: Noon-4pm; April 8th: Noon-6:30pm; April 9th: 11am-5pm and 7pm-8pm).  A few of the special features of this auction are the Collector Car Auction, in which just collector cars are auctioned off.  Also, there is an Automobilia Auction every day that auctions off authentic automobile memorabilia, such as:  dealership signs, hood mascots, transportation toys, gas pumps, and garage relics.

The times for the auctions are as follows:

Wednesday, April 6th:  Preview day 8am-3pm; Opening Gala 7pm

Thursday, April 7th: Auction 8am-close; Collector Car Auction noon-close

Friday, April 8th: Auction 8am-close; Collector Car Auction 10am-close; Automobilia Auction 9am-10am

Saturday, April 9th: Auction 8am-close; Collector Car Auction 10am-close; Automobilia Auction 9am-10am.

There are many options for purchasing tickets.  Here are the prices if you purchase your tickets online, which will be cheaper than if you purchase them at the auction:

  • Opening Day Gala: $75/person
  • 3-day Pass:  Adults – $28.50; Seniors (55+), Students or Military (with ID) – $21.50; Children (6-12) – $9.50+fee
  • Thursday or Friday tickets:  Adults – $10; Seniors (55+), Students or Military (with ID) – $7; Children (6-12) – $3.50+fee
  • Saturday Tickets:  Adults – $15; Seniors (55+), Students or Military (with ID) – $12; Children (6-12) – $5+fee

The Barrett-Jackson company has a long history dating back to their first collector car auction in 1971.  The late Russ Jackson and the late Tom Barrett, the founders of the company, first came together over the purchase of a vehicle.  Though the purchase never went through, the two became life-long friends and business partners.  The company first started building its name in Scottsdale, AZ, which is where the original Barrett-Jackson car auctions took place.  Since 1971, their auctions have grown in such great magnitude, that the company decided to expand their auctions to 3 other locations besides Scottsdale (Palm Beach, FL -2003, Las Vegas, NV – 2008, Orange Country, CA).  This expansion and their strong values and hard work have helped to make them one of the most famous and successful collector car auctions in the U.S. 

Last year’s Palm Beach auction was not only a huge success in how many people came and how much was sold, but it also brought a lot of interesting collector cars.  The top 5 cars based on their sales price were a 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 ($297,000), 2005 Ford Mustang GT Platt & Payne Signature Edition ($190,000), 1965 Cobra Custom Roadster ($184,800), 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible ($165,000) and a 1967 Bel Air Custom Hardtop ($162,250).  If you are interested in bidding on vehicles in this year’s Palm Beach auction, please register and read the rules here.  If you are interested in selling a vehicle, please register and read the rules here.