These home-grown classics are some of Monterey's best offerings

by Conner Golden
5 August 2023 5 min read
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While the Monterey Car Week auctions attract an enormous amount of European exotica—especially Ferraris—many bidders also pack their finest checkbooks and money orders for an overwhelming selection of rarified American cars on offer. And while there’s an expected share of traditional mid-century muscle cars, hot rods, and resto-mods, there’s plenty of blue-chip Americans on parade.

So fly the flag, grill a burger, and cut an extra slice of apple pie—it’s time to get patriotic.

1993 Vector Avtech WX-3 Prototype

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If you really, really must stand out at Monterey’s Exotics on Broadway, consider placing a high bid on this terrifically teal Vector. Even for Vectors, this is about as ‘90s as you can get—it’s not so much frozen in amber as it is caught in a hardened block of Crystal Pepsi. 

Vector founder and frontman Jerry Weigert developed the WX-3 as the long-awaited follow-up to the sensational W8 supercar, offering the same outlandish futuristic aesthetics and outrageous (claimed) performance as the 1980s icon but with updated tech, interior appointments, and further engineering development.

The program was nearly complete, with the prototype duo shown at the 1993 Geneva auto show to public acclaim. An ill-timed hostile takeover from Megatech forced Wiegert and the WX-3 out, with the new owner instead slapping the Vector badge on a run of modified Lamborghini Diablos. In the interim years, Wiegert kept both WX-3s, showing them at a wide range of events in Southern California. 

Wiegert finally unloaded both WX-3s at the 2019 Arizona Auction Week, where this teal coupe brought a then-impressive $615,500. Then, according to the current sale listing, roughly $300,000 was invested in restoration between 2019 and 2021. As is the case with most 1980s and 1990s supercars, Vector values have risen significantly since then, so we’re eager to see what kind of cash this teal terror brings. Quite a bit, if its $1.5M-$2M estimate is accurate.

1934 Cadillac V-16 Fleetwood Aerodynamic Coupe

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Completely different but just as stunning is this Cadillac V-16 Fleetwood coupe. It might not have the Instagram panache and 1000-hp dyno sheet of the Vector, but this colossal Caddy packs twice as many cylinders plus oodles of elegance.

Cadillac’s legendary V-16 series is arguably the grandest of all cars from what we now know as The Big Three, matched domestically only by the rolling art from Packard, Pierce-Arrow, and Duesenberg. Over the course of its ten-year production span, the V-16 chassis could be had in a number of body configurations, ranging from stretched limousine to four-door convertible and all the way down to a (still massive) two-door coupe. 

All are noteworthy, but few match the splendor of the Aerodynamic Coupe. Twenty were built, and only eight were laid on the long wheel-base V-16 chassis presented here. Of those, only five are known to remain.

The early history of this Sixteen isn’t well documented beyond factory notes, but eventual purchase by William T. Walter, Sr., of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania saved the Aero Coupe from the ignominy of its wartime occupation as beer delivery vehicle. Those fleet service records must have been a sight to behold.

Wearing a well-preserved restoration, it has a $750,000-$1M estimate for Monterey.

2020 Ford GT Mk II

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

The past five years have shown that genuine production Ford GTs of any generation or configuration are globally desirable collectibles, regardless if it packs a supercharged V-8 or a twin-turbo V-6. In America, they’re superstars; by our count, there are ten GTs hitting the Monterey auctions. But this 2020 Mk II is one of the more intriguing GTs of the weekend. It’s one of just 45 Mk IIs built, each track-only special sold to pre-existing GT buyers with a whopping $1.2M price tag.

What’s interesting here is the track-only status. Regular, road-legal second gen GTs routinely go for over $1M, but track-day-only specials have more limited opportunities for use and can be a tougher sell. Even so, other Mk IIs at auction have sold well and this one has a $1.0M-$1.25M estimate.

1971 Chevrolet Corvette ZR2



While not quite on the level of Corvette unobtanium as the 1969 ZL1 that sold in Arizona earlier this year, this ZR2 is still a rare, low-production, built-to-order big-block. Only instead of the ZL1’s aluminum-block L88, the ZR2 gets an iron-block 454.

Still, ZR2s don’t come up for sale often, and this is likely the hottest Corvette available in Monterey. The Brands Hatch Green convertible is one of just two built out of twelve total ZR2s. The odo shows only 8795 miles and according to Mecum, the car remains unrestored and in original condition. That goes a long way in explaining its $975,000-$1M estimate.

1954 Oldsmobile F-88 Concept Car

Borad Arrow

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Speaking of Corvettes, this ain’t one. Despite the obvious C1 profile, this was Oldsmobile’s Motorama vision of what an Olds sports car might look like, and gave showgoers a preview of what was to come from the marque. 

Indeed, the only Corvette DNA in the F-88 concept is the C1 chassis found underneath the fiberglass bodywork. Everything else not experimental is pure Olds, right down to the 5.3-liter (324ci) Super 88 V-8. It caused quite a stir at the time of its Motorama debut, and as Chevrolet wasn’t quite sure what the future held for the slow-selling Corvette, production considerations were explored for the F-88 before the Corvette picked up speed and resources were allocated elsewhere. 

In addition to the original show car, two extra F-88s were built for GM execs. One is presumed to have been dismantled in-period, while the other was rebuilt into the F-88 Mk II show car, and subsequently lost to time. Thus, Broad Arrow’s gold example is the only known example, and is strongly believed to carry most of its components from the original Motorama appearance. 

Among American show and concept cars from the ’50s, the F-88 is among of the most recognizable. Expect a mix of Corvette and Oldsmobile superfans to bid it up to the $2M-$3M estimate. 

1954 Cunningham C-3 Coupe by Vignale

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

Contrary to its Euro-centric Vignale coachwork, this gorgeous Cunningham C-3 is an American thoroughbred. The life and career of sportsman and C-3 namesake Briggs Cunningham is far too fascinating to cram into this nutshell, but here’s a fuller history of that founding father of car collecting.. 

More than a decade before Ford turned its sights on France, Cunningham long pined for an American to sit at the top of the Le Mans podium. He leveraged his sizeable fortune and racing know-how to create the B. S. Cunningham company, an outfit dedicated to developing bespoke American race cars to take on La Sarthe. 

For his gorgeous and rather distinctive race cars to barrel down the Mulsanne straight, ACO regulation dictated a roadgoing production Cunningham for homologation. The subsequent C-3 fulfilled this obligation, but it was far from just a compliance car. In essence, the C-3 utilized a modified chassis from the earliest Cunningham Le Mans car draped in fine touring coachwork and interior appointments, and like most of his race cars, power comes from a Chrysler V-8. In this case it’s a 5.4-liter FirePower good for 220 hp. 

These were hand-built, hand-finished cars, and while it was never going to be cheap, production woes nearly doubled the purchase price by 1951. Even for the era, this was a hard sell; records indicate only 27 C-3s were built between 1952 and 1955. Rarity, Cunningham’s celebrity, fine coachwork, and racing provenance keeps the modern Cunningham market strong, so this one’s $950,000-$1.2M estimate seems high but realistic. 

1965 Shelby GT350 R

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Broad Arrow

One of just 36 GT350 Rs built, this is likely the peninsula’s prime pony. 

It likely won’t break the record previously set by the famed “Flying Mustang” GT350 R driven to glory by Ken Miles, but chassis SFM5R212 does carry an in-period competition records including an official showing at the 1966 24 Hours of Daytona, where it took 2nd in the GT 3.0 class and 18th overall. The car was reportedly raced extensively in the mid 1970s and beyond, with appearances at SCCA and IMSA events hosted at Lime Rock, Watkins Glen, Cumberland, and Mid-Ohio. 

So, not the winningest Shelby—but a significant Shelby nonetheless. Genuine GT350 Rs are shoo-ins for a wide variety of popular vintage racing events around the globe, not to mention top-billed attendees at any Ford gathering. The estimate for this one is $900,000-$1M.


  • John R Marchiando says:

    The F-88 Olds was sold at Barett-Jackson a few years back and went for “BIG MONEY”. I watched the sale on TV.

  • Ken Sousa says:

    That ’71 Vette is a nice looking car. You don’t mention that the reason that the ’69 had a 427 and the ’71 had a 454 was to compensate for the detuning that the EPA was imposing on auto manufacturers. It was not an upgrade in power.
    14 years ago I took my ’69 L36 427 Corvette to auction in Monterey with Russo and Steele. It was an original, untampered car with 77K miles on the clock and boxes of documentation. The popular LeMans Blue with black interior, an M21 four speed and 3.36 gears., It hammered for $32K. I still cry when I see Corvettes going for premium prices now.

    • Paul Ipolito says:

      Ken- Where to begin? I don’t think the EPA was much of a factor between 1969 and 1971 (EPA established in 1970) but they surely were starting to flex their muscles. As far as “detuning”, the aluminum block ZL-1/L-88 although rated at 430hp, probably had at least 550-560hp. (Take a look and a listen to the ZL-1s being fired up on You Tube at Roger’s Corvette Center). The LS-6 454 found in the ZR-2 was rated at 425 and was probably nearer to 450, depending on who was doing the reporting. Corvette stories are always cool and sometimes they are also true.

  • Dobrhi says:

    F-88 was sold 2005 at Barrett Jackson and I believe it was an agent for a “new” museum that did the bidding.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    That ’71 Corvette has a beautiful color. The 2020 Ford GT Mk II is also a gorgeous car.

  • paul s murray says:

    Paul I . Ken is right. The manufacturers did increase cubic inches to compensate for what was soon to be a lack of compression etc. with the switch to unleaded forthcoming. They new this switch was going to happen and even though the E.P.A. ( or as Nixon called it ,epa which was created under his administration ) hadn’t come to be everyone knew it was just a matter of time. They had advanced warning. As one of a number of simple examples ,you’ll notice that they increased stroke instead of bore . Not only because it was more cost effective but also because they knew/ guessed that the ‘dirty’ emissions came from unburned gasses in the combustion chamber and so by increasing that area, theoretically and intuitively, more would result. As a simple example of this some old timers out there probably remember the v shaped ‘notch’ in pistons that were there for ‘ this goes forward dummy’ purposes. Even that small and seemingly insignificant area created a dead spot which contributed to poor combustion and higher emissions. Fast forward and you’ve swirlport and tumbleport heads. And while I’m no bow tie guy, didn’t Chevy start touting and displaying torque numbers instead of horsepower in 72 or 73? Something like that. It might even be posted on the console. As far as the ” it really made more ” sometimes yes but mostly and most frequently ,no These ‘factory spec’ engines you see being run were carefully and almost religiously rebuilt and tuned on the dyno. And some.. artistic license..has usually been used. They weren’t what rolled off the factory floor. Even claimed compression ratios were more a matter of good advertising copy than the actual numbers back then. So you’re then building to claimed factory numbers and not using the ‘ can’t get em no more ‘ nos parts. If you think a 409/409 actually produced 409 h.p. think again. Maybe if you gave it to Dyno Don to rub on, but other than that. Not to mention the switch from gross to net ratings, which is more significant than people think and and and.

  • paul s murray says:

    and (ps) The Vector is an ugly red headed step child. The Saleen S-7 was a bit better for an American supercar but still. The thing Ferrari has always done is go to outside designers like Pininfarina and Bertone for their styling. Smart that and a large part of their success largely overlooked. But I love the flying buttress on the Ford GT…and the rest. They got it right.

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