The C1 Corvette that Rocked Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale Auction
At the annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, there’s always a possibility of a break-out moment when a vehicle crosses the stage, and the unexpected happens. As bidder anticipation grew during prime time Saturday, the parade of precious metal classics included the highly collectible LS6 Chevelles, big block Shelbys, Superbirds, and late-model exotics. Of course, everyone was waiting to see the main attraction, the one-of-a-king Shelby Cobra Super Snake, which was scheduled to cross the auction block later in the day. However, before Carroll Shelby’s ultimate Cobra made its appearance, Lot 1358, a drop-dead gorgeous C1 Corvette, rolled up on the auction block. Right away you knew this was a “Show Car” that would rock the house.
It Looks Original but Wait…
Although that Franny Green paint is pure ’50s fashion, this color is the first clue that the 1959 Corvette is anything but a factory original. It’s too bad this cool color wasn’t available in the ’59 model year because it’s the perfect complement to the Bowtie’s body style with contrasting silver coves.
Another giveaway that this is not your run-of-the-mill Vette is the addition of large billet wheels that mimic original style knockoff center nuts. Again, this is another design cue taken from the original roadster, but with enhancements.
Digging into the long list of items on the build sheet, you’ll find that state-of-the-art parts were used throughout. Highlights include an Art Morrison chassis, fully adjustable ride height, Wilwood brakes, and an LT1 6.2L modern Corvette engine covered by an electrically activated 3-position automatic hood.
This is the Complete Package
And, the good stuff doesn’t stop at the door. The interior is covered in an abundance of creamy leather, and the cockpit is equipped with Dakota digital gauges and LED lighting, providing just the right combination of technology and luxury. Nothing “over the top” was added, only tasteful upgrades to improve the look and feel of the original interior design. One of the hidden gems is the Wonder Bar radio, which was completely reworked with all the latest entertainment wizardry.
What’s the Value of these Corvettes?
Sale prices on first-generation original Corvettes vary substantially, depending on condition. At the upper end of the scale for top-judged Vettes, prices can be $160,000 or more. However, not all first-gen cars remain original. In fact, these models are popular candidates for restoring, customizing, and upgrading their technology.
In recent years, other high-end builds have sold for big bucks. In 2012, a 1962 custom Corvette, built by Johnny Martin Trim and Rod Shop, sold for $401,500. It was a Great 8 contender in that same year. In 2018, a 1959 custom Corvette, built by Joe Clevenger, sold for $440,000. Clevenger, who restores these roadsters as a hobby, decided to challenge the previous record sale by building another ’59 Vette – the Franny Green beauty that made its appearance at the recent Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction.
Let the Bidding Begin
It was no surprise that bidding on Lot 1358 quickly blew past $250,000, climbing in increments of $50,000, but it was certainly unexpected when bids reached the half-million mark, with no end in sight. It was obvious that multiple people really wanted this car. Needless to say, this was great news for the seller, and the excitement in the auction hall went up a notch when the audience realized that history was about to be made.
When the auctioneer’s hammer finally fell, Kevin Hart, comedian, and actor, took the cool-looking Corvette home for $750,000 ($825,000 with sales commission). This sale set a new record for these custom roadsters, which crushed the old record by almost a factor of 2. You can bet there are a lot of classic car shops looking for a first-gen Corvette project car, ordering Franny Green paint, and checking who the runner-up bidder was at this auction. Joe Clevenger didn’t say what he named the car, as most builders do. Here’s a suggestion, Joe, how about naming it “The Color of Money.”