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Old 10-10-2009, 08:24 AM   #1
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Default One Famous Racecar Goes Back to the Streets

AMONG the show cars and racing machines that changed hands at the Icons of Speed & Style sale in Los Angeles, the most convoluted trip to the auction block may have been the one taken by a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 convertible that began its career in New Jersey.
After a four-decade odyssey that included dragstrips, restoration shops, auction houses and a private collection, the 450-horsepower ragtop may find fulfillment cruising in Southern California.

From the early 1960s until well into the í70s, quarter-mile dragstrips were a main battlefront in the horsepower war waged by Detroit automakers. The skirmishes of the muscle car era were most intensely fought in the Super Stock classes, where the factories could enter limited-production cars that looked like assembly-line models but were built with lightweight components and stuffed with the most powerful engines on the order form. For years, Dodge and Plymouth dominated with their 426-cubic-inch wedge and Hemi engines.

But in 1970 an innovative team of East Coast racers put Chevrolet on top. Ralph Truppi and Tommy Kling, with backing from Briggs Chevrolet of South Amboy, N.J., took delivery of a Chevelle convertible with the potent 454-cubic-inch LS6 option and an automatic transmission. They chose a convertible, heavier than a hardtop, to put the car in a more desirable class of competition.

With a meticulousness born of their days of racing in the Junior Stock ranks, the Truppi-Kling team blueprinted the engine and rebuilt the Chevelleís chassis with an exactitude that made it far quicker than a car fresh from the assembly line.

Their work paid off. With Ray Allen at the wheel and Jerry Stinner keeping the mechanical end in order, the Chevelle dominated its class, recording 11-second quarter-mile times and racking up a streak of wins in National Hot Rod Association events in 1970. The car continued to race under the Truppi-Kling banner before fading out of sight.

Years later, Ray Allen followed the carís trail to Georgia. He bought it and began a careful restoration to its pre-racing configuration. More than a decade later, but before the restoration was complete, Mr. Allen sold the car to Chip Gerst, a Southern California expert in muscle cars.

In 2006, the Chevelle went on the block at a Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Ariz., and after frenzied bidding it sold for $1.2 million. At RMís Los Angeles auction the Super Stock flyer fell back to earth with a thud, selling for $264,000.

While the seven-figure sum the car previously brought bordered on the ridiculous, the $264,000 price is more in line with its value as a rare muscle car. The racing history, of course, raises its value, so the new buyer almost certainly got a bargain.

Ian Kelleher, president of RM, said the smiling buyer put the top down and drove it to his California home ó a happy ending for any other automobile, but an odd one for a car that humbled so many competitors.
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Old 10-10-2009, 12:04 PM   #2
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sweet jeebus, one of the buyers lost a cool million bucks on that car. wow.
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Old 10-10-2009, 12:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
sweet jeebus, one of the buyers lost a cool million bucks on that car. wow.
Yeah, it's almost like driving a Chevy off the dealer lot today!
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Old 10-10-2009, 01:27 PM   #4
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lol i went to an auction last week for Mecum. not as big as barret but still cool.
they had some badass mopar drag cars for sale that were going for 100k+ but didnt sell because of the reserve. i wonder what the reserve was set at?

these guys are getting greedy!
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