History for Sale

January 11th, 2012

Text and Photos by Bill Stephens

What are my Bids for a Quick Trip Back to Yesterday?

 There was a time, not too long ago, when old race cars were simply discarded when their usefulness as weapons of war had come to an end. They were retired, replaced, and in most cases, removed from the premises without remorse. No love. No eulogies. No death with dignity. Some were unceremoniously scrapped, dispassionately dismantled or just dumped in the corner of a bleak and drafty warehouse, disrespectfully covered with a plastic tarp or a few shipping blankets in what could be described as the automotive equivalent of the county morgue.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Vintage drag racing cars are finding that there is life after death in the collector car marketplace, which has become an upwardly spiraling growth industry in the last decade, and is embracing these once-forgotten relics with open arms—and checkbooks. Clearly, the bulk of the money being tossed around by collectors and race car brokers when searching for a little piece of drag racing’s past ultimately lands on the factory-built Super Stock, Factory Experimental and match race iron from the thoroughly wild and wooly Muscle Car era of the ‘60s.

And in case you haven’t noticed, many of those 50-year-old throwbacks, which cost around $10,000-15,000 to bolt together in their heyday, are now commanding prices that are 10-20 times their original values.

Recently, the country’s largest collector car auction, the Mecum Original Spring Classic at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, featured more than 2,000 special interest cars of all types, and as one of the commentators on HD Theater’s live television coverage of the event, I had the profound privilege of seeing and describing an impressive squadron of genuinely rare factory hot rods as they made their grand entrances onto the Mecum auction block.

Here is just a sampling of the historically significant drag racing power-hitters of the past that aren’t quite ready to go the way of all flesh—just yet.


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One Response to “History for Sale”

  1. reefblue (http://www NULL.motortopia NULL.com/reefblue) says:

    Fast Eddie Schartman and Dyno Don Nicholson [ along with 2 other members of the Mercury Drag Team. ] are more respondsible for making the transition from A/FX [ factory experimental ] to funny car than anyone in drag racing history. In 1966-67 they had the first flip-top cars and the first escape hatch on the roof [ sounds like a funny car to me ] and they were running the Hillborn FI with nitromethane and for the 1966-1967 they had a winning percentage of around 95%. Translated for those who think Hot Rod magazine is a balanced and objective publication: for 2 years they dominated the A/FX class and were running cars that were faster than safe. I think it’s great that the Schartman and Nicholson cars are commanding big bucks and in a way this nullifies tha lack of media coverage these drivers experinced during and even after their driving careers came to an end.

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