This is a $175,000 car all day long. Throw in the $25,000 the Cross Ram in the trunk will net on eBay, and I call it a bargain by at least $50,000
Nineteen sixty nine was the final year for the first generation Camaro and for many collectors, the Z/28 is the ultimate derivation. It was fast, not only in a straight line, but also around corners. It drove like a real sports car, with a high-revving small block, and also came only with a four-speed and decent brakes.
A few enthusiasts noticed option code JL8, which put a set of Corvette disc brakes on all four corners of the Z/28. Chevy said 206 people ponied up the $500.50 they charged for the JL8 option, but real numbers indicate only about 56 JL8 Camaros were actually delivered from the factory. The few that survive are the most desirable Z/28s built.
The Z/28 offered here is a rare factory-original JL8-equipped, fully documented, numbers-matching 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Cross Ram Sport Coupe.
Including its original window sticker, dealer order form, and original factory shipper invoice, it was bought by auto writer Dave Emanuel and featured in several articles on Z/28 performance written by him in the 1970s. There are fourteen factory options on it, including 4.10 Positraction rear, rear deck spoiler, cockpit instrumentation, cowl induction hood, and M21 close-ratio four-speed, in addition to the Z/28 package and the JL8 disc brakes. Emanuel also ordered it in Le Mans Blue (the most desirable color among today's Camaro collectors), with the fold-down rear seat, center console, Endura front bumper, sport steering wheel, AM radio, and deluxe interior trim.
It is fitted with the standard four-barrel Holley carburetor, but also comes with one of the rare and desirable Holley Cross Ram dual four-barrel intake manifolds, still in the original factory packaging. Carefully restored and in better than showroom condition, there is probably no better 1969 Z/28 anywhere. The engine and all-important components are numbers-matching and original to the car. It is not a "clone," a "replica," or a "tribute." It is a real, factory ordered JL8 Z/28 and is the best '69 Z/28 in the world.
In 1967, Chevrolet introduced Regular Production Order (RPO) Z28 (the slash didn't come until 1968) to publicize the new Camaro, then racing in the SCCA Trans-Am series. The conservatively rated 290-hp, 302-ci small block V8 (basically a de-stroked 327) featured special cylinder heads, an aluminum intake manifold, a huge 750 CFM Holley four-barrel carb and specially selected components. It was an engine built to live at sustained high rpm.
Even the accessory drive pulleys were special deep-groove units to retain the fan belt at high engine speeds. With aftermarket or GM "over-the-counter" exhaust headers installed and a competent tune, the 302 made far in excess of the 290-hp insurance-friendly rating. This engine, coupled with Z28-specific parts such as power disc brakes, quick-ratio steering, big E70/15 tires on 7" wheels, and heavy duty suspension made it instantly competitive.
It might not be as lively in city driving as a torque-monster big block or even the SS 295-hp/350-ci engines, but with a good driver behind the wheel who wasn't afraid to twist that 302 up to the "sweet spot," there wasn't much out of Detroit that could run with a Z/28 Camaro on a curvy road.
In competition, the Z/28 Camaro made a name for itself in the Trans-Am Series with the likes of Mark Donohue, Roger Penske, Ed Leslie, Dick Gulstrand and others.
By 1969, Chevrolet had fine-tuned the Z/28 package and one could order a very purposeful Z right from the factory. The subject of this profile is one such car. With any Camaro, documentation is key and very few cars have it. While the validity of the proclaimed number of 56 cars leaving GM with the JL8 option is debatable, in the end it's rare to find a real factory JL8 car with documentation.
In addition to the (some say) 206 factory JL8 cars, many Zs were later fitted with the JL8 Service Package, a complete setup that was available over the counter from Chevrolet. The way to tell the difference is the factory-installed axle tube is tapered at the ends, while the service part has a larger diameter tube with no taper.
Factory JL8 cars also used 11 3/4" diameter front brake rotors, versus the standard 11" size. Today, the rear axle JL8 components are reasonably easy to find; it is the special JL8 front brakes that are nearly impossible to secure and are quite valuable.
A well known "real" car, our subject vehicle is without question an excellent factory JL8 Z/28. Owned for many years by Emanuel, it was later owned by a master fabricator who spends his days building hot rods for Roy Brizio, who's often compared talent-wise to Boyd Coddington or Chip Foose, but builds more traditional-looking cars. He performed the restoration over a roughly ten-year period, completing it around 2002, when he sold it to a friend of mine for the princely sum of $40,000. My friend later sold the car to a dealer in 2003 for $75,000, and presumably he sold it to the vendor who had it at RM. While the engine block had been decked by Emanuel many years ago, removing the engine codes and other numbers from the all-important block ID pad, this is well-documented and it has never been a question that this is the original motor. The paperwork is impressive and the history beyond reproach.
Restored to a very high yet not totally correct level, the restoration was still very pleasing and fresh appearing. I take some issue with RM's catalog heading describing this 1969 Z/28 Camaro as an original "Cross Ram" car, as it was never Cross Ram-equipped prior to 2003 and still isn't today.
But there is no question that an original GM Cross Ram setup in the box is worth at least $25,000, so that is value added to this transaction.
By the way, as a previous owner of cars equipped with Cross Ram induction, I strongly suggest that the best use for these parts is in the box, not on the car. Pushing the limits of over-carburetion with the stock 750 CFM Holley, these are ridiculous cars with two big Holley four-barrels installed. Chevrolet supplied a special camshaft to be installed in conjunction with the Cross Ram setup, a step often overlooked when these cars are retrofitted.
Furthermore, the stock hood will not work with a Cross Ram, necessitating a fiberglass replacement as GM supplied in period. It's another good reason that you couldn't get a Cross Ram installed from the factory. Drive a Z/28 Camaro so equipped on the street and you will soon see it's not user friendly.
So why was this 1969 Z/28 Camaro hammered sold so short of the low estimate of $200,000-$250,000? This was one of the few bargains that slipped through the cracks in Monterey this year. When displayed at the auction, none of the original paperwork-or even copies of it-was available.
With the huge number of made-up JL8 and/or "Cross Ram" cars at any auction, this car assumed the role of just another "maybe" real Z/28. Had the consignor made a bigger effort to display the virtues of this car, he might have realized substantially more.
Is it the "Best '69 Z/28 in the World"? Perhaps not, but it is a really good one. Is Le Mans Blue the "most desirable color"? No, but it isn't dark green. Perhaps the catalog scared bidders suspicious of "best in the world" claims.
How cheap was this car? Even without the Cross Ram in the trunk, this is a $175,000 car all day long. Now throw in the $25,000 or better the Cross Ram will net on eBay, and I call this car an outright bargain by at least $50,000. Hopefully the new owner will keep the engine over 6,000 rpm and enjoy his new Trans-Am racer for the street. I know at least one former owner who is disappointed he wasn't at the auction.
If missing the original Ram Air hood and Ram Air air cleaner parts, you are looking at spending $10,000-$15,000 if you can find the right originals
In March of 1969, Pontiac released a little publicized option package, the Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package. Only two ads were published, one in Road and Track and another in Motor Trend. The Trans Am was conceived to campaign in the SCCA's road racing series. Pontiac paid a $5 license fee to SCCA for each T/A sold. This fee continued to be paid through 2002 models.
The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am has long been regarded as the performance icon of the "pony cars."
This Trans Am retains the original matching 400-ci motor with an automatic transmission. Options include a factory AM radio, power steering, power brakes, and sport wood steering wheel. A fresh suspension has been installed, along with a Positraction differential, all new brakes, lines, and springs. The Ram Air components have been serviced to insure proper functionality. Included with the purchase is much factory paperwork, original books, manuals, and keys. Full documentation of the refurbishment is also available, showing $15,000 in recent receipts.
This first-year Trans Am was purchased new in Farmington, New Mexico. The current owner is only the second person to hold title. The only repaint was completed by the original owner. As this is one of only 114 Pontiac Trans Am Ram Air III with an automatic transmission, the new owner can rest assured that it is one of the lowest production and most sought-after muscle cars to exist today.
The original Trans Am was a late 1969 model year introduction, first available for sale in April of 1969 as a $724.60 option to the base Firebird. All were white with twin blue stripes across the hood, roof, and rear deck, a blue tail panel, functional ram air hood, 60" rear air foil, and fitted with non-functional "air extraction" scoops on the front fenders.
It was a fantastic-looking package, and not the screaming-chicken, bloated "Smokey and the Bandit" second-generation examples most people envision when you mention Pontiac Trans Am. More importantly, the 1969 Trans Am was engineered as a complete package, with suspension upgrades and engineering done by the legendary Herb Adams, factory engineer at the time. There is something to be said about the purity of an original design, and while later Trans Ams are fine cars, none captures the look and feel of the original 1969 version.
However, contrary to the auction catalog, the 1969 Trans Am has not been long regarded as the performance icon of the pony car world. In fact, they have been somewhat overlooked in the market, in spite of the extremely low production of just 697 cars (eight of which are ultra-rare convertibles). Chalk this up to a serious blunder by Pontiac, in which the original Trans Am was supposed to go to market with a 303-ci Pontiac V8 which suffered serious developmental problems and never saw production. In its place, Pontiac transplanted two versions of its 400-ci V8, thereby making the Trans Am ineligible for the race series it was named after. So much for "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday."
The Trans Am's cousin, the Camaro Z/28, with its 302-ci engine, was raced quite successfully in the Trans Am series, bolstering its sales substantially. Jerry Titus, perhaps the most successful driver to field Pontiac Firebirds, cited numerous developmental problems with the Pontiac race program that never seemed to get sorted out.
In the production 1969 Trans Ams, the tried and true 400-ci Ram Air III engine (code L74) was standard equipment, and the mighty Ram Air IV (code L67) was an option. Only 55 coupes were produced with the RAIV engine, 46 being 4-speeds and nine with automatics. The base RAIII engine was fitted to 520 coupes with manual transmissions, 114 coupes with automatics, and all eight convertibles, split evenly as four manuals and four automatics.
While the RAIII was a very tractable engine well suited for daily driving, the RAIV, with its huge "round port" cylinder heads, aggressive camshaft, forged high compression pistons, and free-flowing cast exhaust headers, was really too much engine to lope around town.
The Pontiac Trans Am Ram Air IIIsold above appears to be a solid car sold right in the price range I would expect. However, the auction description concerns me, as it does not inspire confidence in regards to the originality of the car. For example, "original matching 400-ci motor with an automatic transmission" doesn't clearly spell out that the car has its original "numbers matching" engine and transmission.
Or, "A fresh suspension has been installed along with a Positraction differential"? Since a Positraction differential was standard, why would one need to be installed?
I have not examined this Trans Am Ram Air III personally, so cannot verify whether my concerns are justified. This may be a fine example with a poorly written auction description. The problem with 1969 T/As is the scarcity of special one-year-only items, plus the ease with which these cars can be cloned.
For example, if missing the original Ram Air hood and Ram Air air cleaner pans, you are looking at spending at least $10,000-$15,000 to correct, IF you can find these original items. A proper carburetor for a 4-speed car is a $3,000 part these days. Various Trans Am web sites and books will show you what to look for to verify a real '69 T/A and real '69 T/A parts. The bottom line is the same for any low-production specialty car: Research the car and carefully inspect the one you intend to buy. It is easy to see how buying the "wrong" '69 Trans Am for a slightly below market price is no bargain, given the expense of making one correct when missing key original components.
Recent sales of RAIII automatic coupes have been in the $70,000-$100,000 range. A 4-speed coupe in similar condition is easily worth another 25%, in spite of being produced in far greater numbers than the automatic versions. Should you stumble upon a RAIV coupe, expect to pay double what a RAIII car is worth.
And, for the most expensive hair dryer in the Pontiac world, get ready to stroke a check for right around a million bucks for one of the eight convertibles produced, if one should hit the market.
If the subject example checks out as a legitimate numbers-matching car with all the right bits and pieces, this was a great deal for the buyer. I see a lot of upside in a good '69 Trans Am, and I would expect them to appreciate ahead of the market.
The '69 Trans Am is an exclusive, visually appealing, and usable example of the great homologation specials that rolled out of Detroit in the 1960s. No decal remover, silk shirt, or gold chain required.
"I'm a real Southern boy. I got a red neck, white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer"
My mother went into the Peace Corps when she was sixty-eight. My one sister is a motorcycle freak, my other sister is a Holy Roller evangelist, and my brother is running for President. I'm the only sane one in the family"
Among Presidential relatives, no one stands out as more colorful or more controversial than Billy Carter, brother of 39th president Jimmy Carter, from Plains, Georgia.
Billy Carter was born on March 29, 1937, thirteen years after his future President brother. It was said that Carter's father, Earl, was as easy on Billy as he was tough on Jimmy, and, as such, Billy was close to Earl and often seen in his company. Billy was 16 years old when "Mr. Earl" died, and he was devastated.
The death of Earl brought eldest brother Jimmy back from the Navy to run the family peanut warehouse that everyone, including Billy, assumed would be taken over by Billy. Billy was "mad as hell" at both his brother and the turn of events.
Billy married his 16-year-old sweetheart and joined the Marine Corps at age 17. After a four-year stint, he eventually returned home to Plains. Brother Jimmy, finding himself more involved in politics, relinquished daily operations of the warehouse to Billy. According to the PBS television show American Experience, it was Billy who ran Carter's warehouse, and he did it well. "I have made more money for the business than Jimmy ever did," Billy boasted, by all accounts demonstrating a sharp mind, strong work ethic, and natural ability to get along with people.
As Jimmy became Georgia's governor and eventually Democratic candidate for President, the press found a gold mine in the persona of Billy Carter, who could almost always be counted on for a quote, often about one of his favorite subjects, beer. "Paintings are like a beer, only beer tastes good and it's hard to stop drinking beer." Or, "Yes sir, I'm a real Southern boy. I got a red neck, white socks, and Blue Ribbon beer."
In 1976 Jimmy Carter ran for President and won. Billy Carter ran for mayor of Plains and lost. Billy continued to hold court at his Plains gas station, an important part of the social scene in a town that small.
One year later, Billy Carter, part businessman, part philosopher, part good ol' boy, got into the beer business, lending his name to a brand called Billy Beer. With appearances around the country, Billy became the toast of the talk-show circuit. Billy, who was said to drink as many as 30 beers a day, found himself having to live up to his reputation.
It wasn't too long before things turned murky for Billy; he became associated with Libyan interests after a trip with Georgia legislators. A suspect loan for $220,000 and some not-too-well-thought-out comments by Billy served as fuel for President Carter's detractors and produced a Presidential scandal that became known as Billygate. The simple explanation that Billy (a gas station owner) and the Libyans (an oil-producing state) were in the same business did not fly among those who felt Billy's cross-cultural relationship was about influence peddling.
Billy Carter died of pancreatic cancer in 1988. The same disease felled both his sisters and his mother.
There are at least five ways to look at this truck and its value. Let's dissect each one.
1. Survivor. This 1977 pickup has just 10,549 miles and definitely makes it into the survivor column. There has been some paintwork done to the vehicle, but as a truck, the standard is a bit lower than for an imported car from the same year. $19,250 for an almost 30- year-old pickup? For the survivor buyer, it's a stretch to say this was a good buy.
2. Value in use. Automobile appraisers like to talk about this term. A pickup has more value in use than a car because the user can haul things in it, possibly even making money off its utilitarian side. Those of us who own pickups are also aware of the downside of this-friends and neighbors want to borrow our trucks for a "quick errand," which might involve a cement mixer. As to our subject truck, it's a bit too nice for hauling wood chips on a daily basis, but for picking up a barbeque grill, it would be handy. As to value in use, this one fails the test, as any other old pickup would likely fill the bill, and for less money.
3. Donation. Buy the truck, keep it for a while, donate it after getting a (presumably) higher appraisal. There is a possible upside here; if I were the owner, I'd be writing letters to Jimmy Carter's Presidential Library right about now. Billy's pickup could be a cornerstone for the Carter family story. Better still, write the Smithsonian. After all, Presidential relatives and their foibles are a recurring theme in American politics. Worth it as a donation? Doubtful, as many factors come into play here. Wouldn't you hate yourself because you triggered an audit with an inflated donation amount?
4. Celebrity. Billy Carter is a well-known character to many Americans over the age of 40. Below that age, you're likely to get a blank stare. Billy was a true footnote in American history, not good enough (Mother Teresa), or bad enough (Adolf Hitler) to hit the big time. Not to dis Billy, but his star has set. The upside? He is the poster child for redneck chic, and rednecks, as we know, survive no matter what. Is the truck worth the bid to someone who wants to fly the redneck flag? You bet it is, and possibly quite a bit more.
5. Collector. This truck was made into thousands of scale models distributed to kids and model builders around the world-this very truck, not one that looks just like it. This is one of the strongest cases for value here, as only a handful of vehicles around the world are directly replicated in scale.
Billy Carter's "Redneck Power" truck was a great buy, but only for a very specific market. You won't class up the joint (in most places) by arriving in the front seat where the President's brother once sat (and perhaps enjoyed a few cans of Billy Beer), but your truck is a famous, one-of-a-kind vehicle that has a unique story to tell, footnote or not.
Channeling Jeff Foxworthy here, you may be a redneck if...you own Billy Carter's pickup.
I remember when I sold one for a record price of $30,000. I'm sure
someone called the buyer a lunatic for paying so much
someone called the buyer a lunatic for paying so much
Don Yenko was the major Chevrolet performance dealer for many years, and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the 427 Camaro. He converted numerous cars to 427-cid engines before planning a new "Super Car" distributorship for the 1969 model year. Knowing that demand would outstrip his ability to perform all the labor and time-intensive engine swaps, he convinced Chevrolet to build a quantity of 427 Camaros.
Yenko sent these cars to various shops to receive the special emblems, decals, stripes and other options. Fitted with the standard Camaro coupe trim and steel wheels, the muscle car had a deceptively sober appearance, given away only by the rumble of the Z-28 dual exhaust. All 1969 Yenko Camaros received a spoiler to complement the Yenko stripe design, along with special badges, decals and headrests lettered "sYc" for "Yenko Super Cars."
The Yenko Camaro presented here is fully documented and complete with the COPO certificate from Ed Cunneen. It received a full restoration by Brian Henderson of the Super Car Workshop, while the interior was found to be in excellent condition and left as original. It has won numerous awards, including Best of Show at the 1998 U.S. Camaro Nationals.
With only 17,000 documented original miles, this powerful Yenko Camaro's 427 produces 450 hp, coupled to the M-21 four-speed transmission and 4.10 BE-coded 12-bolt rear axle. Finished in striking Rally Green, this car will complement even the most discriminating collector's stable.
The son of a Pennsylvania Chevrolet dealer and a racer at heart, by 1957 Don Yenko was piloting a fuel-injected Corvette, landing Gulf Oil sponsorship in 1961. Yenko won SCCA B Production titles in 1962 and 1963 and a regional championship in 1964, and for a short period of time he even ran one of the now-famous Corvette Grand Sports.
But as the '60s progressed, Yenko became frustrated with Chevrolet's refusal to up the ante in the Corvette's mostly losing battle with the Shelby Cobra. So Yenko came up with an idea: He would transform Chevy's compact Corvair into a real race car. After convincing the SCCA to allow the cars to race in the 1966 season, Yenko ordered 100 Corvair Corsas and began the process of transforming each and every one into a "Yenko Stinger." The plan was a success, as Yenko managed to sell all the modified Corvairs en route to winning a D Production national championship in 1967.
When the Camaro debuted that year, Yenko launched a similar program, yanking the Camaro's small-block Chevy V8 in favor of a fire-breathing L72 Corvette motor installed under a fiberglass hood. These 427-cid big blocks made 425 hp and turned the 1967 Yenko Camaro into one of the baddest street machines available. Additional equipment on the cars varied, with several performance options available. The number of '67 Yenko Camaros built is uncertain, though 54 seems to be the best estimate.
Yenko continued to build modified Camaros for two more years, at first swapping out the short-blocks of cars equipped with factory-
installed 396-cid V8s, and later using the now-famous Chevrolet COPO (Central Office Production Order) process to order 427-equipped Camaros straight from the factory.
In 1968 Yenko built 64 Camaros with the L72 engine, each fitted with a 140-mph speedo, a larger front stabilizer bar, and 15-inch wheels and tires. The following year Yenko ordered 201 COPO cars from Chevrolet, though by this time his dealership was just one of many who were offering big-block Camaros obtained with a COPO.
Corvairs and Camaros weren't the only cars Yenko worked his magic on, as some Chevelles, Novas, and even Vegas also underwent performance modification in the early 1970s, until insurance companies and emissions regulations combined to drive high performance out of the car business. Yenko continued to remain active in racing through the early '70s, driving for teams competing at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring. He was even seen in a race car from time to time until 1987, when he was killed in a plane crash at the age of 60.
Today Yenko Camaros enjoy a unique slot in the muscle car lineage. They're not so rare that you can't find one, but still rare enough to make them extremely desirable. Combine that with their great performance and strong name recognition, and you have one of the most sought-after models in today's collector car market.
The main issue with any Yenko is its paper trail, which should be easy enough to establish and verify. Ed Cunneen's Copo Connection (www
.copo.com) has all of the real Yenko VINs identified, and offers inspection and verification services for all COPO cars. Know that there are dozens and dozens of Yenko clones out there, selling for about the same $40k price you might expect to pay for a nice regular Camaro that's been upgraded with a big-block crate motor. These are usually identified as such at auction, but you don't want to pay real Yenko money for a clone, as the real cars are worth about eight times as much.
As we see from the car pictured here, these are now trading at about $250,000, while five years ago they were in the $75,000-125,000 range. Back in 1995, you could pick up a Yenko Camaro for about $50,000, which was nearly twice what they sold for just five years before that, a paltry $25,000-$30,000.
I remember back in 1988 when I sold a Yenko Camaro for a stop-the-presses record price of $30,000. I'm sure someone called the buyer a lunatic for paying so much for a muscle car.
Today's auction arena, however, is much different. A reflection of the 1960s muscle car street scene, it costs money to go fast-just as it did when the cars were new. With new record prices in this category being set each year, the million-dollar muscle car is no longer a shocker.
What this means is that if you're the lunatic who wrote me that $30k check 17 years ago, I'll be happy to try and get you back ten times what you spent on your Yenko, which would make for a pretty nice payday. If you're the guy determined to be that car's new owner, rest assured that at least in current market conditions, even if you pay full price today, there will be someone else ready to step up and pay more once you've had your fun.
In 1953 the Cadillac Motor Car Company introduced the Eldorado line of cars. Original sales brochures described the car as "dramatically styled by Fleetwood to capture the heart of all America." The standard equipment list read like a menu and it was far and away the most luxurious car America had mass produced in its long automotive history. The car was pure Hollywood and engendered names for its exterior trim and chrome. For example the rear bumper protuberances became known as "Dagmars," after the voluptuous television starlet of the day. At $7,750 it cost five times that of a Chevy and twice as much as a Cadillac '62 convertible (the continental kit was extra).
GM styling head, Harley Earl, could not have guessed that the Eldorado would be met with such widespread acclaim or that it would be in such demand since only 532 were produced in 1953.
This 1953 Eldorado was the concept of its owner who, with the assistance of world renowned custom car builder John D'Agostino, assembled a team of skilled professionals to create one of the world's most spectacular custom cars. It was built as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe who was often seen behind the wheel of her 1953 Cadillac Eldorado. The owner had this Eldorado for seventeen years prior to commissioning the custom work and it was in excellent overall condition, running smooth with 57,000 miles before the work commenced.
Following the completion of "Marilyn" it debuted at the 1998 Grand National Roadster Show where it was the crowd's favorite. It has won multiple Best of Show awards, including being chosen as the Most Beautiful Custom at the 1998 Sacramento Show. It has been featured both nationally and internationally in a multitude of magazines and calendars. This tribute car should be commended for its amazing attention to detail and quality throughout.
The car pictured was sold at Christie's auction at Pebble Beach in California, on August 29, 1999 for $145.5K including commission. It was hammered sold 30% above Christie's high estimate. It takes an exceptional custom to surpass the experts' estimate, but if any custom could do it, it was this superb car. It is a fitting tribute to the memory, style and elegance of Marilyn Monroe.
It also was a much better buy than her 1959 Golden Globe "Best Actress in a Comedy" award which Christie's sold two months later in New York for an almost identical price of $140,000.
"Marilyn" exhibits the high-quality craftsmanship typical of the best customs, but it is distinguished by its subtle restatement of the original '53 Eldorado's lines and concept. There isn't a feature or contour on "Marilyn" that hasn't been refined by its builders, but also that isn't found on the stock '53 Eldorado; without the spotlights and tail-dragging posture it would almost look stock. This car's subtlety puts it in a class with the very best customs, legendary cars like Boyd Coddington's Chezoom.
While many customs sell after their first round of shows at a price that barely (if at all) recovers the cost of their components, "Marilyn" brought a surprisingly high price. Surprising, particularly because it was sold at Pebble Beach, a venue that traditionally rewards originality and correctness more than creativity and craftsmanship.
If "Marilyn" hits the car show circuit, as it should, it will captivate and fascinate thousands of enthusiasts.
(Photo and data courtesy of auction company.)
The Cadillac Automobile Company was founded in 1902 by Henry Leland who had a successful background in the manufacture of firearms and precision machine tools. His initial foray into the nascent motor industry was as the manufacturer of engines and gearbox parts for the successful Oldsmobile curved-dash runabout.
When he decided to make motor cars in his own right he named his company - appropriately, as it happened - after de la Mothe Cadillac, the Frenchman who founded the settlement which became Detroit.
Although General Motors took Cadillac over in 1909, Leland continued to control the firm until 1917 and his insistence upon engineering excellence survived.
The 1914 Cadillac became the American pioneer of the V8 motor car engine using a design by an Englishman, McCall White, whom Leland had recruited from Napier. Cadillac also gave the industry one of its quantum leaps in technology in 1929 when constant mesh between top and second speeds was introduced. This device was based upon the work of E.A. Thompson, who had patented his idea in 1922 and was marketed as Synchromesh.
Another Cadillac first, in 1930, was the announcement of America's largest capacity motor car engine and the world's first production V16. Cadillac survived the depression and emerged after the Second World War as America's most prestigious car manufacturer, eclipsing Packard.
The excellent example of a V16 pictured here has two-seater roadster and dickey bodywork, which is most likely original coachwork coming from another chassis. It is made of steel, has beautiful black paintwork and chrome plating, and a beige fabric top. The interior has red leather seats and red carpets, and is in excellent order throughout. It is a truly beautiful motor car, combining engineering of extraordinary innovation and quality for its time with considerable period elegance. The car is also said to be in excellent mechanical condition.
If the body had been original to the car, the value would have been nearly double. As an aside, while the V8 and V16 Cadillacs share the same wheelbase, allowing for easy interchanging of bodies, the V12 Cadillacs were of a different length, making body switching extremely difficult. - ED.
Cadillac cars were the inspiration of Henry M. Leyland and established the tradition of interchangeability of components. They became part of General Motors in 1909 and were soon the leaders of that group. In 1914 they introduced the world's first commercially successful V8 engine, which stayed into production in its first series until 1926.
In 1926 the series 314 V8 engine was announced, and although it had the same bore and stroke of previous models, it was an entirely fresh design which itself remained in production until 1936. The series 341 cars of 1928 were the first Cadillacs designed by Harley J. Earl, and they bore a distinct resemblance to the famous styling found on the LaSalle, Cadillac's companion car introduced the year before.
Prior to 1928 sales were running generally in the 20,000s annually, a figure that would nearly double in 1928. Also by 1928 General Motors owned 100% of Fisher, and their custom line was in much demand on the longer 140-inch wheelbase with underslung springs, which allowed Harley Earl to design his first Cadillac as a long low car.
The car pictured here is a pristine example, delivered new to Europe and was first purchased by a wealthy Spanish lady, Dona Teresa Martin de Saavedera, who came from the province of Badajoz. The Spanish owner from whom the current owner purchased the car believed that the car was purchased from the Paris Auto Salon of 1928 although that has not been confirmed. It was first registered in the official records on November 30, 1928.
The car was always chauffeur driven, and during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 it fell first into the hands of the Loyalists and later into those of the Insurgents, remaining chauffeur driven in both instances, as it was the best car in the province. When Philip Wichard acquired the car for his collection, it had two bullet holes in the windshield frame. After the war it reverted to Dona Teresa, and title passed by inheritance to her son, Jose Porras Martin de Saavedra on January 28, 1958. In November 1960 the car was bought by Mr. Alvarez Esparrago also of Badajoz from whom Mr. Wichard purchased the car in 1968 having seen an advertisement in "Road & Track."
Walter Seaburg of Sydney, OH, was commissioned to carry out a nut and bolt restoration and this was carried out to his usual exemplary standards. The car has been an Antique Automobile Club of America Nation First Prize Winner. The restoration work was so good that 12 years after the restoration, the Wichards had taken the car to a show for display only and were persuaded to enter the car into competition. The Cadillac was entered and was awarded 100 points! Special features include an unusual hood ornament which is the crest from the Badajoz province, a full set of lights, a rear mounted trunk and the beautiful painted canework detail.
This is what Don Williams, President of the Blackhawk Collection, had to say about the sale: "All of Philip Wichard's cars were in excellent condition, and with this car, essentially you were paying for the restoration and getting the car for free.
"The market for V8 Dual-Cowls has stayed steady during the past two years. If this had been a V16 with a custom body, you'd be looking at a $300,000 - $400,000 price, minimum. But because this is a V8 with a standard body, its value will always be in the lower range.
"These are excellent 60 mph road cars, and tend to drive much better than their European competitors, such as the Hispano H6Bs, from the same era."
Desirable to collectors, this Indianapolis 500 Pace Car replica Camaro is, like the original, an RS/SS convertible. As is usually the custom with Indy 500 pace cars, 100 examples were built for use by press and dignitaries during 500 Month at the Speedway. A further 3,674 Camaros equipped with the Pace Car were later marketed to the general public. This car is one of those 3,674.
The 1969 Camaro was the last year of the original Camaro package which had been introduced in 1967, and was succeeded by a much larger version in mid-1970. It also was one of the Camaro's most successful years (in part because it was in production for 17 months!) with a total of 243,085 built. More important, the '69 Camaro had GM's usual "we've worked out the bugs by now" quality and an options list that seemed to go on without end. This list included the legendary COPO (Central Office Production Order) Camaros for Don Yenko (iron block 427) and Fred Gibb (ZL1 aluminum block 427). It also was the last year for a Camaro convertible until 1987.
The Z11 Pace Car package consisted of orange stripes and orange/black houndstooth interior and could be ordered with the usual assortment of Camaro options. The Indianapolis cars had 375-hp, 396-cubic-inch engines. and automatic transmissions, in a hopeless attempt to allow them to withstand auto journalist and VIP abuse. The RS (Rallye Sport) package of covered headlights, headlight washers and special taillights and SS (Super Sport) package of upgraded suspension and front disc brakes are important attributes of the package and contribute to its value.
Purchased by the current owner in 1996 from the family of its original owner, the 24,000 miles on this Camaro's odometer is correct. It has both power steering and power brakes. The car has been gone through in detail by renowned Camaro expert Bob Harris of East Aurora, New York and is presented to a high standard.
If you are shopping for one, remember that there are many fakes out there. Just because a white Camaro has Hugger Orange stripes doesn't necessarily make it a genuine Pace Car.
With the confusing array of option combinations, a Camaro expert is required to ascertain that a particular car is a correct Pace Car. Of course, if you simply want an older Camaro for its performance and fun of driving, consider one equipped with the 396 engine or a Z/28 with 4-speed.
Considering the large numbers of Camaros built, there are still a reasonable number left in good condition. The price is modest, the driving experience rewarding, and the cars are easy to resell.
To back up the 396's power, and slightly greater weight than the standard 327 cu. in. Chevelle engine, the SS396 package included stiffer suspension. It also displayed the usual options and identification features that were de rigeur at the time to let bystanders know the driver of an SS 396 was the master of real power, at the stoplight or driven.
The SS 396 offered here has the hydraulic valve lifter 360bhp L34 engine and close ratio 4-speed transmission, a combination of serious muscle with excellent driveability. A center console separates the optional vinyl covered bucket seats, which are however more sporty looking than body hugging. A console mounted tachometer permits the driver to monitor both engine revs and the position of the 4-speed shifter simultaneously, while the road takes care of itself, not usually a problem on the SS 396's straight line quarter mile dashes. While the convertible body style's extra frame stiffening adds 100 pounds over the 2-door hardtop's curb weight, 360 bhp deals adequately with the increase in mass. Correct style red line tires complete this SS 396's presentation.
The engine bay, motor and interior are all in excellent condition, all showing virtually no wear or usage. The Chevelle has been well maintained and used sparingly since William Lassiter purchased the car in the mid 1980s. An older restoration to showroom condition, this SS 396 convertible is a delightful combination of 60's style and performance, an icon of the Muscle Car era.
With GM's successful styling and the power of the 396 engine, the Chevelle SS was the kind of car young buyers wanted in the '60s. It still beckons to a slightly smaller audience today.
There are enough potential buyers to keep prices strong. This result at the Florida auction was slightly above our Price Guide, but still a reasonable figure for a popular symbol of the '60s.
Americans in the '50s were fascinated by the future. Newspapers and magazines were full of stories about futuristic technology-rocket ships, jet airplanes, and even television. Car companies were quick to capitalize on the trend, offering a dizzying variety of fantastic show cars. They were shipped from one city to another, and people would line up around the block for a glimpse of the latest chromed and finned creation.
One of these special cars was the Pontiac Bonneville Special. Designed by renowned GM designer Harley Earl, the car was inspired by a trip to the Bonneville salt flats. The car was never intended for production; the idea was to show the public that Pontiac was leading the industry in innovative thinking. Features like a plexiglass roof with gull wing door panels, a sleek fiberglass body, bucket seats, and a futuristic interior gave the public an insight into what the car of the future might look like.
Two of these cars were built so they could be displayed simultaneously at the Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows. The example offered here is believed to be the California car. With repair and conservation, it should be possible to preserve much of the car's originality. Of course, a full restoration would allow an astute collector to recreate the amazing impact the Bonneville Special had when new.
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