Bright lights glimmer on the glass-like paint of a collector car as it’s rolled onto the auction block. The sound of the audience’s chatter is cut by the voice of the auctioneer as the first bid is called. The energy in the air is palatable as bidders compete to win this prize automobile, and bid spotters yell to the auctioneer with each bid placed. Their screams echo from all corners of the room until the winning bid is called and the car is rolled off the block to make way for the next shiny classic.
With each auction car onlookers, both in the live and television audience, watch in anticipation of what the next car will sell for. Was it a steal or did it go for way more than they thought it would? Some watch in amazement of the prices rare – and sometimes not so rare – vehicles sell for. These big numbers can be intimidating to the regular classic car enthusiast, but the truth is that most auctions have something for everyone both on and off the auction block.
Many people may not realize that you don’t even have to be a bidder to enjoy the experience of attending one of these auctions. As the popularity of classic car auctions has grown some auction houses have gone the extra mile to make the onlooker’s experience just as rich as the buyer’s. I recently attended the Barrett-Jackson Northeast auction at Mohegan Sun Casino and got to learn about some of the cool experiences anyone attending the auction can enjoy.
If you want to get the best of the behind the scenes experience make sure you wear comfortable shoes, because the “car corral” areas equate to one of the biggest car shows you’ll ever attend! An entire parking garage and exhibition area are filled with all of the cars you see cross the block, so even if you’re not ready to place a bid you still have a chance to get up close and personal with these rides. Speaking of rides, each day Ford, Chevy and Dodge had riding or driving experiences where you could see what it’s like to be behind the wheel of their performance vehicles.
If getting under the hood is more your thing you could swing by the DIY pavilion and watch a hotrod get put together from start to finish during the span of the auction. Some other live demos at this auction included a detailing demo courtesy of the folks from Adam’s Polishes and tool demos by family owned business Bad Dog Tools.
The Motor Trend Live Stage offered a place to continue the conversation about cars that already rolled across the block, and was another place where spectators could get up close to the action.
Attending these auctions is not only exciting, but offers a way to be part of the action…and maybe even learn something new! There’s an experience for everyone here, whether you are a new collector deciding what your first classic will be or a seasoned collector looking to fill a space in your garage. Wherever you fall in that spectrum, make sure you’re part of the excitement at the next auction – I’ll see you there!
“On the first day God created the earth, on the second day he created the Corvette…” Dan Short jokingly answered when I asked him who this sparkling red Corvette was built for. Although I think he was only half joking – I could believe there was some divine intervention in the creation of a ride this beautiful!
On the third day of the SEMA show I was lucky enough to walk around the car with him and pick his brain about this cool build. Turns out a lot of this car was put together largely with spare parts they had around the shop, but the one part that sets this off from any other red Corvette on the road is the removable split window hard top. Dan and his team created this removable hard top by cutting the top off an original ’63 split window coupe and using it to create a mold. This mold was used to fabricate a fiberglass hard top that can be placed onto a convertible with a perfect fit and finish. The fiberglass construction and custom clip system makes it easy for two people to pop the top off and let their hair blow in the wind on the next ride.
As if the original Chevy small block wouldn’t have made this ‘vette fast enough, Dan decided to dust off an LS engine from his inventory and incorporate it into this build. He said the LS conversion was a smooth process for this build, and didn’t even have to modify the firewall or floor to accept the transmission he paired with this motor. A custom performance suspension set up gives this classic the tight handling any driver would want to handle the power behind the LS.
As cool as this car is, the story behind the builder is even cooler. Dan bought his first car – a 1967 Camaro – from a guy that he chased down the road, following the billow of smoke the car was puffing out. Not long after he did the deal he had to chase down the prior owner again…to ask him how to open the hood! It’s amazing to think that this same teenager went from struggling with a beat up ’67 to heading up a shop that puts out one of a kind builds on a regular basis.
But this transformation didn’t happen overnight. Shortly after he bought this car he enlisted in the U.S. Army and continued to serve our country for the next 15 years, retiring honorably as a Major in 2005. During his military career he traveled the world in service, while also honing his technical mechanical knowledge. The skills he learned while enlisted were not only used on military machinery, but on the piece of American muscle he had back home. Over time he built and rebuilt his Camaro, which he still owns and plans on restoring one more time.
Learning about Dan’s story was especially cool for me, because my first car was also a Camaro…and I still drive it today. Working on my car over the years has not only helped me gain technical knowledge, but also taught me the value of hard work and determination. Dan’s hard work, determination – and love of classic rides – resulted in the shop we know today as FantomWorks. His inspirational story is proof that amazing things can be accomplished, no matter where you start out!
During the unveiling of the new Camaro Z/28 I saw the face of a man in love. It was the face of Mark Reuss, President of GM North America, as he spoke about the newest addition to the Camaro family.
The love affair started about two years ago when this model was in development. After a board meeting the team took a few of the board members for a ride in the prototype vehicle and the love was contagious! The team got the nod to further the development, resulting in the prototype unveiled at this year’s New York Auto Show.
This car was built for speed, and as Mark Reuss described it, “set up for track perfection, just like the original Z28.” The engine is a high revving, naturally aspirated, small block LS7 V8 with an estimated 500HP and 470 foot pounds of torque. Just to make sure you get where you’re going as fast as possible any extra weight was removed. This was done by removing extra insulation, using special glass for the rear windshield, eliminating most of the speakers, and if you really are a purist you can decide to go without air conditioning – yes, that is optional!
But as much as you’ll want to blow down the track in this street legal race car, you may need to stop once and a while. Don’t worry, you’re covered with carbon ceramic brakes made especially for track use.
During the press conference this car was described as “The defining point of the Gen-5 Camaro.” Inside and out this car is designed for the driver with the need for speed…it’s lean toward performance and away from luxury may not appeal to the masses, but for the racer Camaro fans out there this is the car for you!