Saturday, March 22, 2014

Two Classic Corvettes That Could Go for $1 Million Apiece at Auction

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Styling Car The Bunkie Knudsen Corvette Highlight Photo 1

In January of this year, a 1967 L88 Corvette showed up on the auction block at the world famous Barrett-Jackson auto auction. This '67 L88 was specially built for a General Motors executive and was produced as the only known L88 from that year with a red-on-red color combination. It was in such good shape with paper work to match it fetched $3.8 million.

The stipulation of that Corvette is much the same as two Corvettes that will be rolling across the auction block at the Mecum Auto Auction (Houston, April 10-12, 2014).

The first Corvette that might fetch some big numbers is an one-off 1963 Corvette Sting Ray convertible styling car that was built for General Motors Chevrolet Division General Manager Semon “Bunkie” Knudsen. Now owned by his son, Bernie Knudesn, this rare Corvette stands out from the rest with huge, unique chromed out side-pipes, on a special Crimsom Firefrost Metallic red with white strips. The interior was modified from the factory with 1964 interior components and styling. The seats were covered in Naugahdye and were chic-white with maroon stripes.

Underneath the hood is a 327 cubic-inch motor with plenty of chrome plating and crinkle black finish to take the place of the cast-iron look.

All of Knudsen’s cars came in this color, and I’m sure he was out and about showing it off often,” says Mecum consignment director John Kraman, who says that this car could reach the $1 million mark. “It’s a real automotive landmark that has special panache.”

The other Corvette that will probably fetch some big numbers was so pampered it has never even hosted a passenger, and there is only three known people that have ever sat in it. This 1967 Corvette Sting Ray that only has 2,996 org. miles on it is so nice it probably belongs in the Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

It has only had one owner, who passed away in 2011. Don McNamra was a United State Marine, he struck a big payday in Las Vegas where he took his winnings and bought this '67 Sting Ray. McNamara lived in Colorado Springs, he never married and lived a very private life. At one point, sometime during the '80s, he denied even owning the rare Corvette to keep a low profile. Legend has it that the small amount of miles on the vehicle were mostly put on during late night cruises.

These Corvettes may not bring a $3.8 million price tag like the Barrett-Jackson L88 Corvette, but they could easily be some of the Mecum's highest auctioned cars of the weekend, maybe even of all time. One thing that will hurt the Corvettes is that the Mecum auto auction doesn't bring in as many high-profile bidders like the Barett-Jackson auctions often do.

It’s a great color scheme (white with a red stripe) and must be the absolute best second-generation Sting Ray in the country,” says Kraman, who believes this Corvette could also see the $1 million mark. “The first thing that jumps out at you is how different an original car feels from a restored one. This is what it must have looked like in the showroom, down to the whitewall tires.”

Saturday, March 15, 2014

New 2014 GTO Judge (6T9 Goat)

The GTO Judge goes back a long way, all the way back to the muscle car era. After being dropped out of production in 1974, the GTO was just another muscle car that didn't survive. But Pontiac brought it back for 2004, '05, and '06 before dropping it again due to marketing issues and poor sales.

Like with the Trans Am, the GTO Judge still has die-hard fans who still want to see vehicles produced with the famous badges and colors that we all know and love.

Two brothers, Tod and Scott Warmack and Jim Dowling from Tallahassee, Fl. felt the same way about the Pontiac brand. So with the same love and respect that other Pontiac fans had, they started up a Trans Am program ran from their Tallahassee shop known as the Trans Am Depot. To this day they are the only company that is allowed to use the Trans Am moniker.

The company started creating awesome versions of what the Trans Am would have looked like if they were still in production today and then sold them. Needless to say, they looked great and made a big hit. Now the Trans Am Depot is venturing out into the business of making a 2014 GTO Judge or what the Trans Depot calls it "6T9 Goat."

Just like with the Trans Am, they will be mocked up by using the '10 Camaro frame and body. Different bumpers, quarter-panels, hoods, spoilers, rims and interior styling, as well as other components, are implicated to differentiate the GTO Judge from the Camaro and Trans Am.

What do they have for power?

The GTO will get a supercharged 600rwhp, 600lb-ft of torque LS3, with 12 pounds of boost and SLP long-tube headers.

The 2014 GTO Judge and Trans Am are available for order, just contact the boys at the Trans Am Depot and get your dream car started.

The Unbeatable 1959 Corvette: The Purple Eater Corvette

Hemmings Muscle Machines George Mattar

The Purple People Eater MKIII is a 1959 Corvette that was literally unbeatable in SCCA B-Production racing in the late 1950s. There were three Purple People Eaters built in 1958 and 1959. Our feature car, the 1959 model, won every race it entered, except the last one, with Jim Jeffords behind the wheel and mechanic Ronnie Kaplan turning wrenches.

The car was built by a team at Nickey Chevrolet in Chicago, said Tom Stephani, whose father, Jack Stephani, was Nickey's secretary/treasurer. "Primarily, my father was the marketing, sales and promotions guy. My uncle (Ed Stephani) was the finance and operations guy. While my uncle was interested in racing and supported the effort, my dad was the one who really got bit by the racing bug," Stephani told HMM in a telephone interview. The Stephani family acquired Nickey Chevrolet in 1933, when Tom's grandfather, Edward, got it in exchange for a mortgage he held on Mr. Nickey's home.

The car got its name in 1958, when Nickey Chevrolet first got into racing Corvettes. The dealership ordered a stock Corvette with all available "racing" options. "The first car was silver, and when they took it for a shakedown run at a Wilmot Hills, Wisconsin, regional race, my father complained that it was hard to pick out Nickey's car. Most racers of the day just left their cars whatever color they came in, and there was an abundance of white, silver and light blue Corvettes. Since my dad was new to racing, he wanted his car to stand out. So, after some discussion with the crew, they took it over to the Nickey paint shop and directed them to come up with a metallic purple paint job. This coincided with Sheb Wooley's 'Flying Purple People Eater' song that peaked on the charts in June 1958," Tom Stephani said.

This story may be argued, but due to the fact that his father was directly involved with this famous race car, Stephani is certain this is what transpired. Today, Stephani is a resource for the Miller family of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, who owns the car. The owner was the co-owner of the Carlisle Fairgrounds, Chip Miller, who passed away more than a year ago. Today, his son Lance is the caretaker of the car. At last year's Corvettes at Carlisle Racers Reunion, Stephani gave Lance Miller some of the original paperwork on the Purple People Eater that, without a doubt, provided authentication for this famous car.

When the Nickey team was looking for a driver, none other than Zora Arkus-Duntov recommended Jeffords to Nickey. Jeffords was considered a very fast race driver, but hard on equipment. So confident was Jeffords that he told Ed and Jack Stephani if he didn't win the SCCA B-Production Championships in 1958 and 1959, he would reimburse Nickey for expenses. "He basically guaranteed my dad that with the right funding, equipment and personnel he would win the championship, and he did."

Mechanic Ronnie Kaplan, now 78, and still living in his hometown of Chicago, said he was working for another race team in the late 1950s when the driver, Pat O'Connor, was killed in a racing accident. "I was out of a job, and I was at Milwaukee race. Jim Jeffords asked me to work on this project, and I took the job. It was a great job, the pay was pretty good, and we won every race we entered. I think we only had two DNF's due to silly stuff like a blown clutch, and I think a fan belt flew off."

 Kaplan said the car had a Chevrolet V-8 with factory Rochester fuel injection and a four-speed manual transmission. "GM helped with some technical advice, and I got that fuel injection figured out pretty quick. It was very reliable. I told Jim to keep that engine about 6,000 rpm, and it never broke. He is a very big, strong man and was tough on equipment. I swear he could break off a shifter." 

Kaplan said the hardest part of his job was to make sure Jeffords's seat was low and far back enough in the body so he could fit. "He was about 6 feet 3 inches tall, at least, and I had to work that seat for him." Kaplan said Jeffords's abilities as a driver were irreproachable. "His best attribute was his desire to win. As a driver, second place wasn't tolerable for him."

In 1961, this car was sold by Nickey Chevrolet to Bob Spooner, who raced it extensively, and it was eventually sold to Chip Miller, who at the time did not realize the historical significance of the car, Stephani said.

Lance Miller tells this story about how his dad acquired the famous car: "It sat all weekend at the very first Carlisle event in 1974. It had a $1,000 price tag on it, and nobody wanted it. On the final day of the event, Ken Heckert and my father approached the owner of the car and made an $800 offer. After they each put in $400, the old beater was theirs," Lance recalled. "They had no idea that car was the Purple People Eater."

Chip and Ken autocrossed the car a few times and then it was parked in the back of his body shop, where it was used as a lunch table for about 14 years. Enter Mike Philsbury. He noticed a roll bar on the Corvette and some other changes on the car, like an L-shaped windshield bracket, cut-out for side exhaust, latch on the hood and some remnants of purple paint.

After some research, Ken and Chip learned it was, indeed, the Purple People Eater. Under the hood remained the correct, 290hp fuel-injected V-8. Upon learning what they had, Ken tore into the car and restored it. About five years later, Chip offered to buy Ken's half of the car back. Chip then had the car restored again.

It was recently shown at the Nickey Reunion at Road America and took first in class at Elkhart Lake. The car has won an American Heritage Award and was displayed in 2002 at the Monterey Historics, where Chip drove Jeffords, in the passenger seat, around the track.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

2014 Corvette's Price Rises $2,000

If you have already ordered your Corvette Stingray you are safe from the price jack, but if you have been sitting back and waiting for the right moment you can now expect to pay an extra $2,000 for the good looking, great selling sportscar.

General Motors decided with such great success so far selling the beauties it was time to try to squeeze a little more out consumers. The Stingray coupe will move from $51,995, including destination, to $53,995. The convertible gets a similar price jack, from $56,995 to $58,995.

The Z51 Performance Package will also see an increases of $1,200 to level out the final package price to $4,000. So if you are looking to get into a base coupe with a Z51 package, you will end up paying $57,995, and if you opt out for a convertible you will find yourself buying one for about $62,995.

March 1st is when the change took place. A spokesmen for Chevrolet has confirmed that there is no need to worry about any orders purchased prior to that, as they will honor the original price even if it has not yet made it into the owners possessions yet.

Corvette is still on the top-ten fastest selling vehicle list of this winter according to Even with the $2,000 increase, one can only image that this will have no effect on sales. The redesigned 2014 Stingray has been a hit every since its debut at the 2013 North American Auto Show.

Even with the $2,000 price jack, the Stingray still puts out performance and comfort with a price tag that can not be matched by any other car on the market. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The New Silverado Reaper

The Lingenfelter and Southern Comfort Silverado --

AvailableThis Month At Participating Dealerships


Originally started as the T-Rex, Lingenfelter gave the Silverado the name because the truck was designed to go head-to-head with the Ford Raptor. And the hope for the T-Rex was a Dinosaur square-off that would eat the Raptor alive.

But when Ligenfelter found out that Southern Comfort Automotive was also doing a similar project, the two joined forces and the name was dropped to make way for a more marketable name, the Silverado Reaper.

The Silverado Reaper made its first debut at the Chicago Auto Show, where its larger than life presences was immediately notice. The beefier hood was designed to fit two different massive power-plants: A 5.3-liter with 475hp and a 6.2-liter with 550hp, both of which are topped with Magnusom supercharges and fitted with Corsa exhaust.

The Suspension is lifted 3-inches over stock and Fox Reservoir Shocks that provide 9.2-inches of wheel travel in the front and 11.2-inches in the rear are bolted on.

Two sets of rims and tires will be available. 20-inch rims and tires are standard, but for the real off-road enthusiast you can order 17-inch beadlock wheels with 33-inches of General Grabber rubber

Other goodies include: a front skid-plate, integrated rock-rail with side steps, flood lights and day time running LED lights, auxiliary switch panel and a custom gauge cluster.

This new beast will be available at select dealers this month. Price has not yet been released but roomers have it that a price tag will be around $50,000 to $60,000 depending on options.