I mentioned last week that Chevrolet Corvairs, Corvette C3s and Avantis are on my online auction watch lists. Having a watch list is similar to subscribing to a series of documentaries on The History Channel. I’m not sure I want to know much more about Roman chariot warfare, but don’t mind prowling around a little bit.

For a brief moment, I was on fire to add an Avanti to our collection, but a little research turned the flames into embers. However, by joining the relevant social media affinity groups, I’m now aware of the various pecking orders in the Avanti world with early supercharged, 4-speed models at the top and the odd, forlorn four-door post-Studebaker models at the bottom.

Will this knowledge ever serve a purpose? Probably not. But it cost nothing and learning is always fun.

I’ve also enjoyed discovering the pecking order in the world of C3 Corvettes, especially now that my son has one. These 1968 to 1982 models encompass some of the best (think: L88) to the worst Corvettes (smog-strangled, 165-hp machines in 1975), at wildly different price points.

Nonetheless, each group has its enthusiasts. And just like with the Avantis, I’m a little bit smarter about C3s and I enjoy understanding them better. 

With Corvairs, it is the same. They are quirky and often unloved by Chevy guys, but the few that adore them do so with a high level of devotion. I’ve only driven a Corvair once, when I was in high school. It was a turbo model and I immediately caused it to toss its fan belt.

But I don’t think I’d mind owning another one. The path from “not minding” to “having one in the garage” is littered with URLs of auctions that I can read through and pass to friends who know more than I do.

Online auction commentary has become the classic car Wikipedia of our era, and I encourage all of you who have the faintest interest in any kind of car to dive in and start learning.

Even better: if  you’d like to have 150 pages of Sports Car Market delivered to your mailbox each month, go to www.sportscarmarket.com/scmfriend for this week’s special offer.  

12 Comments

  1. Mike Kieley

    I think that BaT has been one of the greatest learning tools for such a wide range of automotive pursuits. I’m pretty well versed in the Porsche world, but I have followed the comments on everything from Corvettes to Lambos and now understand them much better. The downside is that I am hunting for an early 911 targa and am now firmly wedged down the rabbit hole of several different online auctions!

  2. Rand Wintermute

    Personal inspections are the most critical essential parameter to follow; auction house rarely have the service history on a particular marque. A general rule I have followed in 52 years of collecting, is to never buy from an Auction house unless there is a paper trail of known maintenance records. AND never, ever buy a car with a Branded Title. Period.

  3. Keith Martin

    Do you think you can get a better buy at a less popular auction site?

    • Rand Wintermute

      Yes, a lesser known Auction site that is selling the marque you wish, is preferable due to the “ Hype” found in sites such as “Mecum”, and the former “ Russo/Steel” venue. Also, consider the lesser crowd !
      Fewer bidders means lower prices on the bids. And always bring a tool bag of an extendable Mirror to view Under the car, and a paint scanner to view the paint thickness .
      Buyer “preparedness” is an art form easily learned if one stays on focus and away from buying on the “ Excitement “ plan .

  4. Keith, reading the excellent book from Ian Flemings nephew Fergus Fleming, ” The Man With the Golden Typewriter “. Letters & anecdote during his James Bond creation period. There is mention Ian Fleming was one of the first in the UK to take delivery of a Supercharged Avanti. Maybe you are on to something ?

    • John Boyle

      JB
      You are correct.
      Fleming did have an Avanti, it replaced a Thunderbird ( of unknown generation, by the time the Avant was introduced there were three). His was custom painted black by the factory.
      An American car magazine noted the sale and struggled to introduce Flemming, apparently in the pre-film era, the Bond books were little known in America.
      So, the magazine called James Bond “the UK answer to Perry Mason”.
      Huh?
      Flemming wrote that the Studebaker was “far superior” to the Ford.
      Avanti fans have looked for his car in the UK and it has not surfaced.
      It’s long been said by A anti owners that the car’s history and subsequent value, could have been changed if it had the exposure in a hit film. With 4600 Studebaker a produced examples, it is fairly rare, had some performance, and a beautiful body by a noted designer.
      If Bond had driven one on screen, they’d likely be $100,000 cars now.

  5. Rick Walter

    Hi Keith, I have been a very satisfied subscriber of Sports Car Market since about 1997. I would love to see your “pecking order” information that you mention on Avantis, Corvette C3’s, Corvairs, and many other cars. This would make a great addition to the monthly magazine, realizing opinions would vary from collector to collector. Obviously, most of us do our research as we search out additions to our collections, but this would be very interesting reading about cars we may not collect. It could even spur interest in new directions for collecting for us. Thanks again for a great magazine.

  6. I have a friend who takes years to find a car that meets his standards. He looks at dozens and dozens of cars. He tends to overpay for a very good example. And then he spends more time and energy making the car even better than it was. This is great, until he sells the car.

    On the other hand, I tend to shop by price. I assume the car will need work. Often, I am pleasantly surprised. Even when things are less than perfect, I am seldom in too deep.

    The great feature of a car like a Corvair is that they are fairly simple. And they made hundreds of thousands of them. They are inherently inexpensive. Now, it is possible to fight that and make one into a costly project, but it’s not necessary.

  7. Rand Wintermute

    K-
    – a side note…Corvair engines and Porsches … in 1971, while shopping in the Oregonian for a Porsche 356 , I saw an Ad for a 1955 Porsche Spyder 550A priced at $ 3500. I went over to the East side and met the seller mechanic who raced it , with a Corvair engine in it; I passed on it due my wife preferring a new house instead …( what do women know !🥹) I drove it a few blocks and it had ample power !…. It Is the same 550 now owned by Ralph Lauren, and with a 4 cam engine !….the Gateway Porsche Audi mechanic won a few races with it , with the Corvair engine in it ! He preferred the Corvair power over Porsche 4 cam power !!!

  8. I have enjoyed the magazine, so I will need to look at the offer. I have grown to feel that you really need to get a feel for the owner, when buying something now a days. I remember being at a Mecum and talking to a C2 guy, he shared that he restores one a year, using the c2 his brother brought when he came back from Nam as the template.

    He took me to show the questionable paperwork for a NCRS car that claimed to be one thing on paper, but in looking a body ques told a different story.

    For years before the internet I was helping my buddy in finding a 70 SS Chevelle, it was amazing how many clones were out there, but easy to find with the right questions or the right inspection.

    So, I will make some time to check out the offer.

    All My Best!

  9. The quality of the content of your blog was great. Very impressive and useful write-up. Will be waiting for more updates. Keep posting.

  10. Keith Martin

    Glad you liked it! More every week!

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