A private collection of Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth muscle cars seized by the US Government as the proceeds of crime has sold at auction for NZ$3.2 million.
Topping the sale was a 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird coupe (above) knocked down for $US575,000 ($NZ727,000). It had a 7.0-litre 317kW (425bhp) Hemi V8 under the bonnet, 102,000km on the clock, was one of only 58 built with a four-speed manual gearbox, and one of only 135 produced with the legendary engine.
The Plymouth and eight other vehicles were seized by US Marshalls from the home of former big-spender David Nicoll, co-director of a New Jersey blood-testing centre who pleaded guilty last year to bribery charges that netted his company, Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, more than $US100 million in revenue. Nicoll faces 22 years in prison.
Juan Mattos Jr., a US marshall, told bidders that in the 225-year history of the law enforcement body it had “never had this type of collection of rare muscle cars” at a single event.
“We have auctioned off cars, properties, jewellery, even horses, but never in our history have we had this much horsepower in one room,” Mattos said.
Chevrolet Yenko Nova 1969
Nicoll bought it for $US580,000 ($NZ734,000), but it sold for $US400,000 ($NZ506,000) at auction. It was one of 37 built that year by US race car driver and go-fast specialist Don Yenko, who once described the lightweight Nova as “a beast, almost lethal.” The auction car ran a 7.0-litre 317kW (425bhp) V8, good for a 0-100km/h time of 4 seconds. It had 18,480km on the clock.
The complete but unassembled coupe fetched US$347,500 ($NZ439,800). With it was a Stage III 7.0-litre 317kW Hemi engine.
It had a mere 45km on the clock and sold for $US315,000 ($NZ398,000). A 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Chevelle traded at $US237,500 ($NZ300,000). Both cars ran 7.0-litre V8s, the Comaro’s tuned to deliver 335kW, the Chevelle’s 317kW. The Chevelle had done 30,450km.
The two Chevrolet models sold at more modest prices. The SS 454 and its 7.4-litre 335kW V8 fetched $US155,000 ($NZ196,000), and a 1970 Chevelle Malibu convertible, retrofitted with an 6.4-litre 280kW V8 sold for $US70,000 ($NZ88,000).
The Boss 429 was one of two Mustangs from Nicoll’s collection. It fetched $US265,000 ($NZ335,000) and a 1967 Shelby GT 500 sold for $US170,000 ($NZ215,000). Both ran 7.0-litre V8s, the Boss engine generating 280kW (375bhp), the Shelby 265kW (355bhp).
Nicoll was an extravagant spender. It’s on record that he spent $US154,000 at a gentleman’s club, over $US400,000 on sports tickets, $US700,000 on an apartment for his “female companion,” and over $US5m on his car collections.