As this year’s warm summer breezes arrived in the Colorado mountains, it was fitting that the bidding for classic and muscle cars would heat up at Mecum’s Denver auction on July 8-9, 2016. The annual event once again illustrated the significant sums car enthusiasts and investors are willing to pay for their favorite classics. The Denver event offers further evidence that the interest in ’60s muscle cars and collectible classics continues unabated in 2016.
All of the top five vehicles sold at the Mecum auction in Denver fetched six-figure bids. Vintage Corvettes attracted a great deal of interest. Three of the top five and five of the top 10 vehicles were Corvettes from the late 1950s or 1960s.
1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL
However, the top spot belonged to a Galaxie 500 XL originally built for racing in Australia. When the auctioneer dropped the gavel at the conclusion of the spirited bidding for this historic racer, it became the highest-price vehicle sold at this year’s Mecum event in Denver. The winning bid for the 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL was a prodigious $155,000. Because it was built to race in Australia, it features an extremely rare right-hand drive and dashboard. This big, fast Ford is powered by a 427 cu-in V8 rated at 425 hp. All that power is delivered to the rear wheels via an upgraded 1964 cast-iron transmission and a 4.10:1 rear axle – just like the factory race cars that Ford produced at the time. The R-code engine is complemented by R-code spinner hubcaps.
The frame-off restoration was completed with fiberglass parts correct for this particular vehicle. Although it never actually competed, it comes with a letter from Lee Holman of Holman-Moody, credited with setting up most of the winning Ford racers of the era. The 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 XL was a worthy opponent in races against the hottest Plymouths and Chevrolets of the day.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-window Coupe
A classic Corvette Split-window Coupe attracted a winning bid of $140,000, just $15,000 less than the top bid in this year’s Denver auction. In 2010, a regional NCRS judge began a professional frame-off restoration on this 1963 Tuxedo Black Corvette with contrasting tan leather upholstery. Since then, it has been stored in a climate-controlled garage, and less than 100 miles has been added to the odometer. In September 2011, this black beauty received the Top-Flight Award at the Rocky Mountain Chapter.
The Sting Ray is the second-generation Corvette (C2) that made its debut in 1963. It represents a synthesis of the GM’s Q-Corvette project and the Sting Ray racing effort. The resulting XP-720 experimental project led to the introduction of the 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. This particular example of American automotive history is powered by a fuel-injected, small-block engine linked to a four-speed transmission. The 327 cu-in powerplant is rated at 360 hp.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette Resto Mod
The winning bidder that invested $135,000 in this 1957 Corvette will undoubtedly enjoy showing off this creatively modified example. Joe Peck Customs spent the better part of two years completing this award-winning 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Resto Mod. The vehicle is delivered with a bound photo album that fully documents the build.
Gasoline is delivered to the fuel-injected 480 hp engine from a custom-built tank that’s filled from behind the rear license plate. The vehicle is a joy to drive, in part due to the inclusion of power steering, power brakes and power windows. This ‘57 Corvette is creatively customized, from its handcrafted K-member frame to its iPod connectivity. The lucky driver can enjoy his or her favorite hits through two 8-inch subwoofers powered by a Kenwood amplifier. Albert Lara is credited with adorning the doors and seats in white leather. The restored interior is also air-conditioned, and it features eye-catching blue LED lighting along the dash. The bright chrome five-spoke wheels boldly announce that this is a Resto Mod Corvette.
1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Yet another highly collectible Corvette grabbed the #4 spot at Mecum’s Denver auction. The winning bidder invested a cool $125,000 in this 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible finished with a stunning Sunfire Yellow exterior complemented by a black leather interior. The black convertible top matches the black Stinger stripe. This highly desirable sports car comes complete with an auxiliary hardtop as well. It’s a particularly rare ‘67 ‘Vette that is one of only 267 factory-equipped with J56 heavy-duty power brakes. The 400-hp output of the big block L36, 427 cu-in engine made this one of the best performing Corvettes of its day.
The yellow and black convertible features a host of upscale options, including seats with headrests, factory air, AM/FM radio, power steering, power windows and a shoulder harness. The vehicle is delivered with a copy of the original owner’s title, service receipts and an NCRS shipping report.
1970 Buick GSX Stage I
A muscle car from the Shane Aulick collection rounds out the top five at Mecum Denver 2016. The brash and beautiful Buick GSX fetched $115,000 from the winning bidder. This 1970 Buick GSX Stage I is a two-time GSCA Nationals winter. It includes a Stage II upgrade installed by the original dealer, George King and Sons of Algonquin, Illinois. The Stage II cam, Edelbrock B4B manifold, Mickey Thompson Super Scavenger headers and Holly 850 CFM carburetor are all noteworthy additions to this high-performing vehicle. Other upscale features on this Buick GSX include power steering, power brakes, an automatic transmission and a 4.78:1 differential.
The Saturn Yellow exterior finish contrasts with both the black stripes and the black interior complete with bucket seats. Anyone that loved torque appreciated this engineering success of GM’s Buick Division. Its 510 lb-ft of torque exceeded that of every other American production performance car for over three decades. The 455 cu-in V8 was rated at 360 hp. Thanks in part to its torque, this Buick first surprised and subsequently impressed many muscle car enthusiasts of its day. Given its performance capabilities, it is fitting that this GSX comes with a hood tachometer.
Over the years, this eye-catching Buick muscle car with eye-popping performance has attracted the attention of various American automotive magazines. Documentation includes historical paperwork from General Motors and a documented ownership history.
Meticulously restored classics continue to make their way to the auction block in serious numbers. Some are purchased by investors, and some are bought by collectors with extensive collections. Still others are purchased by enthusiasts realizing a life-long dream to own their very own slice of pure Americana, whether it be a Corvette convertible or a high-performance muscle car with serious torque and scorching zero-to-60 times.
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