It’s hard to say whether the long production delay caused by last autumn’s strike at General Motors played a role, but the first street-legal version of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette managed to land a $3 million winning bid at this weekend’s Barrett-Jackson Auction.
Rick Hendrick, one of NASCAR’s most successful team owners, placed the top bid after what can best be described as a “spirited” chase among those gathered at the annual event. The proceeds from the charity auction will go to the Detroit Children’s Fund.
“I am the number one Corvette junkie in the world,” said Hendrick. “Thanks to Chevrolet and Barrett-Jackson, because they always pick charities that are so good and help so many people.”
Doubtless, Hendrick’s win will leave many other Corvette fans jealous. As a result of the six-week walkout by the United Auto Workers Union, production at GM’s sports car plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is well behind schedule and it will still be nearly another month before Corvettes start rolling into U.S. showrooms.
In fact, the car that rolled across the auction block over the weekend was a red pre-production prototype. The car Hendrick will wind up getting will be a black-on-black Corvette — VIN #0001 – the 3LT version of the Stingray, with the Z51 performance package and pretty much every other option available. Fittingly, for a NASCAR team owner, the accessories will include a performance data recorder.
“Reaction to the mid-engine Corvette has been extraordinary,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO, who was on the stage as the red ‘Vette rolled across the auction block, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
What has come to be known, simply, as “the Barrett-Jackson,” anchors a slew of annual auctions in tony Scottsdale, Arizona. Now in its 49th year, it regularly holds a special charity auction featuring one of the year’s hot new products. A Toyota Supra commanded a winning bid of $2.1 million, while a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 last January was gaveled at $1.1 million.
Corvettes have been the real money objects, however. At a Barrett-Jackson event last June, the very last final front-engine C7 Corvette commanded a winning bid of $2.7 million.
The $3 million figure for the first production-model Corvette was doubly significant considering it came in just short of the top bid for any vehicle over a weekend that historically sees some wild prices for classic cars. A 1995 Ferrari F50 Coupe commanded $3,222,500 at the Gooding & Company auction.
The various auctions in Scottsdale each January have come to be seen as a bellwether of how the classic market will perform for the rest of the year. According to a report by Hagerty Insurance, which tracks the auction world, the long weekend “revealed polarization in the market. Cars below $25,000 are accelerating regardless of condition, but offerings above $250,000 are proving to be more difficult to find new homes.”
Corvettes, in general, provided one of the bright spots, with nine of 11 fourth-generation, or C4 Corvettes, commanding bids at or above their target numbers, according to Hagerty.