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Friday was the highlight for most attendees this year. A majority of the Monumental Muscle cars would be offered for sale during the live NBCSN broadcast between 12:00 noon and 6:00PM, and most were moved from a glassed-in display building to the pre-stage tent early due to upcoming rain. The first lot (F100) would be an unrestored 1971 Hemicuda in Winchester Grey once owned by expert Frank Badelson just after 1:00PM. Four minutes and $950,000 later, people realized this was going to be a big deal. Then a Sno-White ’71 convertible (F102) topped off at 2.3 million, a ’69 Coronet R/T droptop (F105) hit $625,000, and world records were set on a couple other models. However, the big guns were out for F109, a spectacular-appearing 1970 Hemi’cuda convertible in Lemon Twist paint with Shaker and body-colored rims. It climbed to two million dollars almost immediately, then 2.4, 2.5…and the reserve was OFF! Before the hammer fell, the price had gone to $2.675 million.
The third highest seller the weekend was a 1970 Hemi Challenger convertible; this beast actually came off the block unsold with a high bid of 1.3 million. However, Mecum has a unique process called ‘the bid goes on,’ which allows possible buyers of cars that do not meet their reserve to discuss a possible sale price with the owner. Since everything is in place for Mecum to facilitate the sales process, this allowed the Challenger to sell within an hour of its auction appearance for a solid $1.675 million; a Hemi four-speed Daytona (F103) that came off the block without a new owner likewise found a new home by the end of the weekend for $550,000.
Records were shattered for other Mopar convertibles at the event – a pair of pilot Six Pack E-bodies built on the very first date of production in late 1969 went to new owners at 475K (F113 ‘cuda) and 450K (F114 Challenger) respectively. A similar 1970 440-4BBL ‘cuda convertible sold for 350K on Saturday afternoon, which is the highest price ever paid for that engine configuration in ANY body design. B-body droptops models beyond the ’69 included a ’67 Hemi R/T (F108 $200,000) and a pair of Hemi GTXs that hit $150,000 apiece, one a ’68 (F110) and the other a ’69 (F106), and a great 1970 440-6BBL Road Runner (F112) that took home $160,000 at the close.
Mr. Schmeeckle’s Mopars were not far behind later on Friday afternoon, led off in price by F158, a ’70 Hemi Challenger hardtop in Plum Crazy with a Shaker, four-speed and a $290,000 final hammer price. His 671-mile Superbird (F166) was not far behind at $285,000 and his Mr. Norm-sold Dodge Daytona was sold for $270,000, both great prices on 440-4BBL examples of these models. Indeed, a third wing of merit was a barn find Daytona that received a lot of pre-event attention; the well-seasoned car went to a new home at $90,000 later that evening, while Garlits himself hammered home the $155,000 final bid on his ’69 aero Charger 500.
There was much more; results with pictures can be found on the mecum.com website if you create a free account and log in. Regardless, do these prices change the course of Mopar collecting and value? There is a truth to a ‘rising tide lifts all ships,’ but it would be unfair to characterize this sale as a mere bellweather of the entire marketplace. There were other cars even at this event that sold at very reasonable prices. The cars that are presently considered blue-chip in this market are noted for a number of factors – rarity is probably the biggest one, but originality remains very important if it is possible, and provenance is a key factor to ensure the car is exactly what it is purported to be.
For instance, the green-and-white 1969 Coronet R/T convertible (F105) was a personal favorite, but it was the sole fully-documented example in these stunning colors, one of just four four-speeds built that year, and formerly of the Otis Chandler collection. I actually knew the owner of this car before it become famous, and I felt this was an honest value for what it was. Only a 1970 model would have generated a greater price in my opinion, and the 1967 example, a Hemi convertible not as gorgeous but just as rare, brought $200,000, also fair money for what was offered.
I do believe that this sale did establish new solid marks for B-body Hemi and Six Pack ‘specialty cars’ (convertibles and M-code ‘69s/V-code 70/71 examples) with provenance, with the new base between 90K-120K for any properly restored and documented example and higher if the options or originality justify it; the value seems to go much higher if the car is either well-known in the hobby or features one-off/high-demand parts in terms of color and trim like the ’69 Hemi R/T did. I would hazard a guess that an identical 440-4BBL ’69 R/T four-speed model would now bring somewhere around the 100K range or more if all else is equal.
As for E-bodies, these are truly the superstars of not just Mopar but American musclecars in general. Ironically, there has been a move toward 1969 Trans AM convertibles as ‘the next big thing,’ but it not a wager I could take – the Hemi itself has a legacy nothing in the GM line can equal. Even the vaunted LS6 454” and Ram Air IV models have no race heritage comparatively. Add in production rarity, popular culture understandings, and crazy paint and options, and these are understandably in a class alone. The convertibles will continue to be in high demand worldwide, with Hemi examples attaining a status only available to the very wealthy when changing hands.
A handful of the Hemi E-body hardtops and wings on hand remained unsold when reserves were not lifted, but the right ones still moved into the over quarter-million-dollar range and it may have been a case of the owner deciding opportunity to re-own such a car would not happen again…ever…