Three Wagons in L.A.

Three Wagons in L.A.

Offered by Mecum | Los Angeles, California | February 16-17, 2018

1962 Chevrolet Corvair Lakewood Wagon

Photo – Mecum

Mecum has become the go-to place for classic wagons and pickup trucks. This sale has some great examples of both, including this 1962 Corvair Wagon. The Corvair was new for 1960 and it was a revolutionary design with its rear-mounted, air-cooled engine. The platform saw cars, vans, and pickup trucks applied to it.

Station wagons were only available in 1961 and 1962, making this the last of the line for Corvair Wagons. In 1962, the wagon was available in two trims: the Lakewood (which was the Series 700 Corvair you see here) and in upmarket Monza trim. The Lakewood only made it through half of the 1962 model year as it was competing against the new Chevy II Wagon.

This car is powered by a 2.4-liter flat-six that would’ve made 80 horsepower when new (though the catalog says it is a “high-output” engine, which may mean it has the 84 horsepower Monza engine). Only 3,716 Lakewoods were produced in 1962 and this one has 93,000 miles on it. Click here for more info.

Update: Withdrawn.

1958 Dodge Suburban Spectator Wagon

Photo – Mecum

Dodge’s 1958 line included, in order of increasing luxury: the Coronet, the Royal,  and the Custom Royal. Their station wagon line was separate and the base wagon was the two-door Suburban – the only two-door wagon they offered in 1958.

It’s powered by a 5.7-liter Ram Fire V-8 good for 295 horsepower. Dodge built about 20,000 wagons in total for 1958, split between this and four other models. This one has been restored and, even though it’s a two-door car, it seats a clown car-like nine passengers. The pink and black color scheme is great. It would be impossible to buy this and not load up your family and trek them to the Grand Canyon. Click here for more info.

Update: Withdrawn.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Beauville Wagon

Photo – Mecum

Ah, the ’57 Chevy. The Bel Air was the top Chevrolet for 1957 and 1957 was the final year of the second generation of this model. It is the epitome of 1950s American passenger cars and this wagon is a rare bird. The two-door wagon, the Nomad, is an expensive and sought-after car. But the four-door wagon, the Beauville, was much more common in its day, even if they seem rarer today.

It’s powered by a 4.3-liter V-8 making 170 horsepower. When new this car cost $2,580 and only 27,375 examples were built making this the second-rarest 1957 Bel Air body style behind the Nomad. It’s a 64,000 mile car and it can be yours! Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $13,200.

Update II: Sold, Motostalgia Amelia Island 2018, $19,800.

The Corphibian

1961 Chevrolet Corphibian Prototype

Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 15-24, 2016

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

The Chevrolet Corvair was a revolutionary rear-engined, rear-wheel drive car introduced by General Motors for the 1960 model year. It was available as a convertible, coupe, sedan, wagon… and van and pickup truck. Called the Greenbriar, the van was built between 1961 and 1965. The Rampside was the very non-traditional pickup that one loaded from the side.

This thing is based on the Rampside pickup. It is powered by a 2.4-liter flat-six making 80 horsepower. The engine is located under the bed in the back. But what is unusual about this Corvair is that it is amphibious. That’s right, it is for both land and sea.

While I’m not really sure why, Chevrolet enlisted the help of the Hulten-Holm Company of Pontiac, Michigan, to assist them in building this fully-functional amphibious prototype truck-boat. The hull is fiberglass and it has only covered 157 miles (presumably on land). But it has been in the water, as photos exist of it there. The paint is fresh but the wheels and tires are original. It’s pretty incredible and extremely rare (obviously, there was only ever one built). Your guess on price is as good as mine. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Sold $70,000.

Fitch Phoenix

1966 Fitch Phoenix

Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 1, 2014

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

This is one of those cars that I cannot believe is actually for sale. That’s partly because it has never been offered for sale before. It’s the only one like it and a lot of people admire this thing – partly because of what it is, but mostly because of who built it.

John Fitch was an Indianapolis-born racer and innovator who lived cars his whole life. As a racing driver, Fitch won the Mille Miglia and the 12 Hours of Sebring and ran at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and had two Formula One starts. When Pierre Levegh was killed in the 1955 Le Mans disaster, Fitch was his co-driver, standing in the pits as the Levegh in their Mercedes-Benz shredded into the stands. It was this accident that fueled Fitch’s desire for safety innovation: he invented those sand-filled barrels you see on the highway and on race tracks, among other things. He also designed this car.

He loved the Corvair. He saw the potential of a low center of gravity and a rear-engine layout. So he built a prototype sports car around the Corvair. The 2.7-liter flat-six was tuned to put out 170 horsepower. It was 7.5 seconds to 60 mph on its way to 130. The car has great styling and two spares behind the front wheel wells, which is a cool, unique look. He was going to build a run of 500 of them, but the government’s hate of the Corvair helped put a stop to those production plans. This remains the only example built.

John Fitch passed away in October of 2012 at age 95. He remains an American legend to those who know about him and it’s a shame more don’t. He was one of America’s great racers from the golden era of motorsport. The Phoenix is being offered from his estate. The pre-sale estimate is $150,000-$200,000 – but under the right conditions, it could bring more. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $253,000.

Local Car Show Revue – July 2012

I was able to hit up a few local car shows during July (as of this writing July still has more than a week left, so hopefully I can hit up more). Here’s a quick rundown:

July 15 was the date of the British Car show put on by the British Car Club of Greater Cincinnati. The setting was nice but the weather was uncooperative. I had to hand it to some of the owners, embracing the spirit – and weather – of British motoring. I saw a guy in an MGA driving in – sans roof – during a downpour. Many of the cars received impromptu plastic coverings, but some were open to the elements. It was both sad and awesome to see. Sad because you hate to see the interiors of these restored cars get wet – awesome because it means the ones that did get some rain probably also get some regular use. And I’m all about cars being driven regularly – flawless paint isn’t as attractive as paint that shows it is being enjoyed.

Photos are sparse due to the heavy rain and the fact I treat my camera as if it were my child. Here are some highlights:

My favorite of the show came down to two cars, first this Daimler SP250 “Dart.”  This was the first Dart I’ve ever actually seen in person. The side view (below) shows it better, but I had two people tell me how Daimler had the styling so right… until they got to the front. Either way it’s a great looking car with a Chrysler Hemi V8 underhood. It’s also a lot longer than most of its contemporaries.

The other car I loved very much wasn’t even British – it was a Saab Sonett II. Many of these cars simply fell apart over time but this one was glorious. And it had, if I remember correctly, the three-cylinder two-stroke engine.

Some other cars: Jaguar Mark 2 (white), 1959 MG Magnette (black), 1970 Austin America (bluish-green), and a DeLorean DMC-12 (silver, obviously).

Another show was the 2012 edition of Rollin’ on the River (held on July 22). It is a properly big show with cars just rolling in one after the other. Again, I failed to take a plethora of photos (although the weather was brilliant) as I spent the early part of the day watching – and more so listening – to the cars roll in. The afternoon was spent chatting up some of the owners and unfortunately, no one offered to just give me their car.

This show had something for everybody, from customs:

To muscle cars:

And Corvettes:

The two directly above I really liked. One is an obvious “work in progress” and the one with the black wheels looks racy and mean. I love it.

And there were cars for everything in between. My favorites included a super rare Pontiac Trans Am Tojan and a 1912 Ford Model T Town Car. This Viper was perhaps the most exotic supercar there. It was listed and displayed as a 1997 Viper GTS-R. The window sticker didn’t mention an “R” (which was mostly an aero package that would be duplicated in 1998 for the GT2). I’m guessing it was all dealer-added post-sale. But whatever, it’s still fast.

(Don’t worry about this one, once it got a little speed it fired right up).