Top-dog muscle cars ready for action at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale

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The prototype 1966 Shelby GT350 is featured at Barrett-Jackson | Howard Koby photos

In 1995, Craig Jackson took over the reins of the “World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions,” and immediately sent out a survey to customers inquiring how Barrett-Jackson sales could be improved. After the survey, he made major changes to the types of vehicles that would roll across the block.

“I began to focus on Baby Boomers, bringing in muscle cars, ’60 sports cars, woodys and other vehicles that appealed to that generation,” Jackson explained.

The survey also revealed that people wanted more activities during the weeklong extravaganza, which eventually transformed from a collector car auction into a huge lifestyle event.

Corvettes rule at Barrett-Jackson auctions

“We expanded the auction into a world-class automotive lifestyle event with exhibitors, food vendors and entertainment,” Jackson said.

Barrett-Jackson’s 47th annual Scottsdale Auction is a frenzy of automotive excitement. It’s a nine-day love affair with anything automotive, from the sale of automobilia to more than 1,700 collector cars crossing the action on the block.

It also has become a major “spectator sport,” attracting some 350,000 people — spectators, sellers and bidders — over the course of nine days.

1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird

“Car collecting should be a hobby first with the added bonus of investment for the buyers who are smart about how to approach the industry,” Jackson said.

Every winter, in the middle of January, Barrett-Jackson flexes its muscle — literally and figuratively. Some of the outstanding examples that will roll across the block this year include the “Crown Jewel Camaro” in Hugger Orange, a ’61 ZL1 COPO that is 59th of the 69 cars built with Central Office Production Order 9560, which specifies an aluminum ZL1 427 big-block engine. This is the only one built with the NC8 chambered dual-exhaust system.

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Rare 1969 Camaro ZL1 COPO

In the day, a ’69 ZL1 Camaro 427 COPO 9560 sold for $7,200, and now the hammer could go into the exclusive seven-digit world.

Next up, a Ford Mustang Q-Code 428 Cobra Jet 4-speed convertible-the “Q” meaning it has a 428 CJ non-Ram Air engine, one of only 50 of its kind.

“Truly A Horse of a Different Color,” the ’66 Shelby GT350 Prototype No. 001 is an outstanding and important vehicle, the pre-production prototype and the first Shelby GT350 built for 1966.

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 emblem

These top-dog muscle cars are part of Barrett-Jackson’s exclusive Salon Collection of high-end auction cars. Also in the collection is the last known Hemi ‘Cuda in “Metallic True Blue,” a ’71 model that is one of only 59 4-speeds built in the car’s final year.

“Muscle Car Madness” continues with an unrestored ’71 Dodge Hemi Challenger known as the “Black Beauty” and powered by a 426cid V8 with a pistol-grip 4-speed manual transmission.

Two Shelby Cobras ready to strike the block are a ’66 Cobra roadster, CSX3239, in red and a ’63 Cobra roadster, CSX2177, in blue with a white stripe. Also in the pit, a fuchsia ’63 Shelby 289 Cobra Dragon Snake CSX2093, the 1967 NHRA World Champio).

A ‘fire-breathing’ 1968 Corvette L88

A ’65 Shelby GT350R is in the corral. This pony is powered by a Pete Hood 289cid V8 with 4-speed manual and is one of 33-factory competition models built in 1965, and
documented as the winningest Shelby ever.

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Another outstanding Chevrolet is a “fire-breathing Corvette destined for the racetrack,” a stunning ’68 L88. Trimmed in Le Mans Blue over a blue interior, this racing machine is one of 80 built and was designed to be a serious race car driven by professional racers on the track.

Other primo muscle cars on the docket include a ’65 Mustang fastback, a ’74 Trans Am 455 Super Duty, a ’63 Corvette 327/300 split-window coupe, a ’68 Dodge Charger R/T custom hardtop, a ’69 Ford Mustang Boss 429, a ’70 Plymouth Hemi Superbird, a ’70 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV, a ’70 Super Bee R-Code, a ’87 Buick Grand National GNX, a ’70 Chevrolet Chevelle and a ’70 Mustang Boss 429.

Barrett-Jackson auctioneering takes place through Sunday at WestWorld in Scottsdale, Arizona. For information, visit the auction website.

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Howard graduated with honors from the Art Center College of Design in California. He has been a photographer and automotive journalist for 35 years out of his Los Angeles studio. He has been published in Hot Rod, AutoWeek, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Jaguar Journal, Forza, Vintage Motorsport, Classic Motorsports, Robb Report, Motor Trend Classic, Hemmings Muscle Machines, and 50 Years of Road & Track (MBI Publishing). He has served on the Advisory Committee of the Transportation Design Department at Art Center College of Design. He is the author of the books Top Fuel Dragsters of the 1970s and Pro Stock Dragsters of the 1970s, both available on amazon.com.

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