(Bloomberg) -- If a car sells for $1 million at an auction, smart money says it’s a vintage Ferrari or Jaguar.
A white Corvette down in the Florida swamps isn’t exactly what first springs to mind. But on Friday night in Kissimmee, one car might prove the exception.
The last of the special “Sting Ray” generation, this Chevrolet Corvette coupe isn’t the cool and rare split-window variety from 1963, which typically command the most money. But it does offer something very special: It’s basically just as it was when it rolled off the assembly line in 1967.
It’s been driven only 2,996 miles since its birth and had only four owners, each of whom kept up regular maintenance. Its original components, such as gauges, dials, and interior trimmings remain unmolested and intact. It has all of the original VIN stamps on the engine, transmission, body, and frame; the original window sticker was kept safe, too. And it sat parked in the same garage from May 20, 1967, until Feb. 12, 2012—nearly 45 years.
It’s so untouched, auction notes brag, that no one has even sat in the passenger seat. “This car belongs in the Smithsonian, not in a car show,” Mecum’s listing blares.
“In sharp contrast with the vast majority of similar high-performance vintage vehicles, the subject vehicle is uniquely preserved in nearly new and unrestored condition,” said David Burroughs, a leading Corvette expert, in his “Prove It” report, a special inch-by-inch analysis of high-value cars that auction houses or sellers can commission to prove a car’s worth. “There are no obvious signs of wear, deterioration, refinish, repair, restoration, replacement or alteration evident.”
The current estimate for this 427-cubic-inch, 390-horsepower, four-speed V-8 is $800,000, although “if at least two bidders really want it, there is a chance it could go for more than $1 million,” says Jonathan Klinger, an analyst for Hagerty.com.
Chris Bonelli, who spoke on behalf of Chevrolet’s historical archives, declined to speculate on the possible $1 million sale price. But he says that as “one of the best-kept, low-mileage vehicles you can buy,” it has a very high potential for that type of appeal.
A Corvette topping seven figures wouldn’t be unheard of. At a Mecum auction in Dallas in 2013, a burgundy ’67 Corvette convertible sold for $3.4 million. Barrett-Jackson sold a bright-red ’67 Corvette coupe for $3.8 million in Scottsdale, Ariz., in 2014.
Those cars cost so much because they were rare L88 Corvettes—only 20 were produced in 1967—restored to infinitesimal degree, and, in one case, successful on the racetrack.
Indeed, if the ’Vette takes $1 million or more this week, that’ll be five times the current market value for top-condition Corvettes of that era. Quite a jump, especially considering that this very car sold for $783,000 at a Mecum auction in 2014. But there’s no question that the future values of the vehicle will be upward, rather than static or downward.
There’s just one catch. The only attribute that is not exceptional about the car, a model so well-known and loved for its athleticism on the road, is its roadworthiness.
The ride don’t drive.
Many enthusiasts believe cars—even expensive cars—should be driven rather than cosseted away in storage for this very reason: The sedentary years that make them so desirable to some also allow them to deteriorate. The fuel tank of this Corvette is so corroded inside an alternative fuel tank is needed to allow the car to run, briefly, for exhibition.
“Due to the extremely low mileage, it is impractical and unadvised to sacrifice additional mileage in order to test and troubleshoot roadworthiness of a car that is nearly brand new and that will likely never again be significantly driven,” Burroughs said.
Mecum auction notes put it even more succinctly: “This car is not intended for anyone wanting to drive.”
The Corvette is a glorified paperweight.
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