NASCAR team owner and mega- automobile dealer Rick Hendrick knows what he likes.
And very high on Hendrick's list, right up there with his 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship trophies, are Corvettes. Hendrick, now 63, got his start as an entrepreneur when he was still a teenager in his native Virginia, buying wrecked Corvettes, repairing them himself and then reselling them.
In his Hendrick Heritage Collection in Concord, N.C., Hendrick has nearly 200 cars, including many vintage Corvettes. And he added to those ranks in a big way at the recent Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Event in Scottsdale, Ariz.
At Barrett-Jackson, Hendrick purchased the first 2014 Corvette (called the C7) for $1.1 million and a 1968 Corvette L-88 race car for an additional $1.1 million.
The bright red 2014 Corvette show car drew a huge crowd after it was unveiled at Barrett-Jackson. "It's an opportunity to see some really advanced engineering," Hendrick said as the car rolled of a transport truck.
"Unbelievable design and unbelievable car. Anytime we see a fresh, new-generation born, it's exciting. But I'd say this one is probably more exciting than any one I've been a part of. Everybody's been thinking about what the C7 would look like and I was blown away when I saw it. There's a lot of excitement."
Indeed there was. And the seven-figure bidding limit didn't deter Hendrick from getting what he wanted. "Because I'm a Chevy dealer, and because new and used we sell more than anybody else in the country, it would be a nice piece for the museum, it would a nice piece to take around to the stores and to have the first one of this generation would be great," Hendrick said.
Following are the top Corvettes sold at Barrett-Jackson:
Lot 3016, 2014 Corvette C7, $1.1 million
Yes, Hendrick paid a King's ransom to get VIN No. 0001 of the 2014 Corvette, but it may ultimately prove to be a bargain. He'll get to spec the actual car out himself - the red one at Barrett-Jackson was strictly a show car - as he did when he bought the first 2010 Camaro. Like that Camaro, it's likely that Hendrick will choose black.
Lot 5041, 1968 Corvette L-88 Owens/Corning Race Car, $1.1 million
Known as the most victorious Corvette in history, this car won the 1969 and 1972 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) National "A" Production championships and was 1968 and 1970 SCCA National "A" Production runner-up. It finished second in the GT class at the 1969 12 Hours of Sebring, Fla., endurance race and posted GT class wins in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1969 and '70.
Lot 5015, 1962 Custom Corvette roadster, $396,000
Outrageous is the only way to describe this amazing 1962 custom, which won both the Goodguys Street Machine of the Year award and the Specialty Equipment Market Assn. (SEMA) GM Design Award for Best Hot Rod in 2009
Lot 5042, 1969 Corvette L-88, $280,500
From 1967-'69, Chevrolet produced a total of 216 Corvettes with the fearsome, race-bred L-88 427-cubic-inch V8 engine. This Fathom Green t-top coupe was the 216th and final L-88 ever made.
Lot 3010, 1958 Corvette, $270,000
General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson donated his Regal Turquoise '58 to be auctioned, with all proceeds going to Habitat For Humanity.
Lot 3006, 2013 Corvette 427 convertible, $270,000
This was a custom-painted 427 convertible that chef Guy Fieri sold as a charity car, with all proceeds going to his "Cooking With Kids" organization.
Lot 1337, 1963 Custom Corvette, $264,000
Here's an example of the iconic "split-window" Corvette given the full-on "resto-mod" treatment, including a 638-horsepower LS9 engine (wheels, too) from a modern ZR1 Corvette.
Lot 1320, 1963 Custom Corvette, $220,000
Another resto-modded "split-window," this bright red '63 had a 500-horse engine, along with new ZR1 Corvette brakes.
Lot 1278, 1965 Corvette, $192,500
The 1965 model year was the first time that Chevrolet offered a big-block engine in the Corvette. And the 396-cubic-incher, rated at 425 horsepower, helped push the price up on this stunning black-on-black roadster.
Lot 1398, 1960 custom Corvette, $187,000
Powered by a modern "LS"-series Corvette engine producing 430 horsepower, this custom Corvette featured an Art Morrison-brand chassis, and modern upgrades including air conditioning and a premium sound system.