Auction Preview: Mecum Indy 2016
Mecum’s Indianapolis sale is a long-standing tradition spanning back 29 years, and the auction holds an important spot as the company’s most important sale between Kissimmee in January and Monterey in August. There is always something for the classic car enthusiast at Indy, ranging from rare muscle cars to race cars (How does Ronnie Sox’s 1971 Pro Stock Hemi Cuda or “Grumpy” Jenkins’ 1970 Pro Stock Camaro sound?). With 2,000 cars expected to descend on the Indiana State Fairgrounds from May 17-21, the tradition continues strong this year. Here are five cars we’ll be watching.
It is hard to deny that the ZL1 Camaro stands at the top of the heap of for Camaros. Equipped with an all-aluminum 427 big block that was underrated at 425hp, this car was about absolute performance. Many of these were immediately turned into race cars at the time and flogged at the track. Due to the $7,300 price tag, only 69 ZL1-equipped cars were ever produced, so they are some of the most sought after Camaros out there. Mecum’s example is unmodified and has been restored to high standards, so expect serious collectors to show up looking to add this car to their stable.
Up until the end of 1968, the Grand Prix had been the sporty version of Pontiac’s full-size line. That all changed when John DeLorean introduced the G-body platform, which was essentially a slightly stretched GTO underneath. Power choices were even similar to the GTO on the Model J, which had a standard 400cid/350hp engine. Where the Grand Prix trumped the GTO was with its optional SJ package, which could include up to a 428 H.O. engine generating 390hp for 1969. The new Grand Prix was a huge success in 1969, launching the “personal luxury car” market. The Grand Prix remains an exceptional deal compared to a GTO without leaving any power on the table. They will pleasantly surprise you when driven in anger and will turn heads at any parking lot you show up in.
The pinnacle of Mopar performance is the 426 Hemi, and when installed in the small, lightweight Cuda, you have truly fearsome machine. The Hemi has earned a place in the history books as one of the best performance engines built and for good reason. It won races and some of the most desirable muscle cars on the planet have a Hemi under the hood. The most noteworthy cars to receive the Hemi were the 1970-71 Cudas. They were meant to race, and many of them did so very successfully. This example is particularly interesting given the originality and desirable options such as the shaker scoop and pistol grip 4-speed. While the $425,000 – $525,000 estimate seems outrageous at face value, finding a car this original is hard to find and would rightfully command top dollar and then some.
The term “poor man’s Cobra” has been thrown around when discussion of the Tiger comes up. That comes without surprise when you look at the pedigree. The Tiger, much like the Cobra, came from the classic recipe of small British roadster mixed with powerful Ford V-8 crammed under the hood. The most desirable of the Tigers are the Mark II variant that received a 289 cid Ford engine rather than the 260 that had been offered in previous years. Coupling that with the fact only 536 genuine Mark IIs are reported to have been built, it also ticks the box for rarity. Tiger prices have risen drastically over the past couple of years, so don’t expect this one to go cheaply.
1969 Chevrolet Chevelle COPO
Estimate: $150,000 – $200,000
Many enthusiasts know about the COPO program. If your dealer had the right connections at GM, you could have a Central Office Production Order done in order to take advantage of a loophole in GM’s internal rules specifying a 400-cid engine limit in mid-size cars and smaller. A significant number of Camaros were turned out under this loophole. Not as well-known, however, are the 323 Chevelles (including Yenkos) that received 427 engines under the COPO program. These cars were very unassuming, with no badging to reveal what they were. The only way you would’ve known that you just pulled up next to a COPO was either the unmistakable lope of the solid lifter cam or the speed at which it left the light. This example is being offered from the impressive Ken Lingenfelter collection and was featured in Hagerty’s “Generation Gap” video series. These cars don’t surface frequently, so it’s always exciting when one comes up for sale.