Cars with great stories still capture our imagination

Matt Tierney

Nobody should be shocked that the Amelia Island auctions back in March handed us another stack of strong results, near-perfect sell-through rates, and a $127M total over three days.

Buried in the dispassionate news of big numbers are the stories. A car’s story can often mean more for the result than anything else. Predictable results for no-mile Ford GTs and perfect 300SLs all help build a price guide, but here are a few results from Amelia that would confuse price guide watchers if they didn’t know the rest of the story.

Let’s start with the pair of midyear Corvettes sold by Gooding & Co., a 1963 “Small Tank” Z06 coupe and a 1966 427/390 coupe. Both sold for numbers that, at face value, defy logic—$1.25M for the Z06 and $533K for the 427/390. Condition #1 values for these Corvettes are $400K and $125K, respectively. So here’s the story: The late Chicago-area Corvette aficionado Bob Lojewski owned them both. He purchased the 1966 brand new and perfectly preserved it over his scant 10,000 miles of driving. The car is credited with helping to establish Bloomington Gold judging criteria for unrestored cars, way back in 1977, and it was admitted to the Great Hall in 2014 as a result.

1966 Chevrolet Corvette 427 390 front three-quarter
Gooding & Company

Lojewski purchased the Z06 in 1975, with 4000 miles on it. At Amelia, it remained completely original, now showing just 5300 miles. It, too, is a Bloomington Gold Great Hall car and the most original of the 199 Z06 Corvettes built. Two renowned great cars with stories entwined in Bloomington history produced results that transcend the actual artifacts themselves.

Big buzz from the weekend came from a 1967 Toyota 2000GT race car, s/n 001, which sold for $2.5M at Gooding. It’s the first Japanese car to break the $2M mark, yes, but there is more to it. This 2000GT was one of three prepared by Carroll Shelby for Toyota to race in SCCA C/Production. The only reason Shelby got involved was to snag the project from his ex-employee, Peter Brock, when Shelby caught wind that Toyota was handing the program to him. Shelby had already won Le Mans, so he surely didn’t care about C/P competition, just running the table. But when this car and its two Shelby siblings hit the track, they were outgunned; the program was a flop, and Toyota pulled the plug. Race car values are often based on their success in period competition, and this isn’t the kind of race record that equates to a huge sale result.

1967 Toyota-Shelby 2000 GT rear three-quarter
Gooding & Company

Given there are 351 2000GTs in total, and a roadgoing version like racer Bobby Rahal’s (which won the Japanese Car class on concours Sunday) is far more usable—and valued at less than half of this result—I’d say that the story of spite, the Shelby build, and a prime serial number were worth an extra $1.5M to at least two bidders.

Finally, the late Rudy Mancinas collection of Porsches and BMWs, 18 in total, was sold at no-reserve by Gooding. Mancinas, or “Mr. 993,” was a passionate, well-known enthusiast in the online car community. He often posted how his collection was “Rudy-fied” with custom touches to personalize the cars to his taste.

Rudy’s death in August 2021 from COVID-19 complications shook the online world where he operated. When his collection hit the block in Florida, it was no surprise the cars did well, despite the fact there wasn’t a low-mileage “wrapper car” in sight. For example, his “Rudyfied” 1988 BMW M3, with 170,000 miles, sold for $98,000; his 1997 Porsche 993 C2S with 68,000 miles brought $207,000—far more than anyone would have predicted.

1997 Porsche 993 Carrera 2S Rudyfied
Gooding & Company

I’ve written previously that tasteful modifications are nothing to be afraid of. Even more important, that these cars came from a known enthusiast who featured them in his niche online celebrity, and they offered buyers the chance to be the next caretaker of a “Mr. 993” car, helped their cause.

There is so much to love about cars, but how they make us feel is paramount. When it comes time to open our wallets, good cars with the added benefit of a good story often get us to pay more. From what I saw at Amelia, no matter the market, that will likely never change.

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