I never watched CART races in the early 1990s – but I did adore the series’ pace cars.; Built in collaboration with paint experts PPG, the cars often sported fancy paint, custom body work – or even a combination of the two.; They were neat, yes; but looking like afterthoughts of the 1980s, they were often forgotten.
Fast forward to 2008:; CART has since morphed into the beleaguered Champ Car series, and – following a bankruptcy declaration in March and an upcoming merger with IRL – the series decided to pawn most of its assets on June 6th.; Surprisingly, this included the famed pace vehicles.
I’m not fond of the neon pink -on- Petty Blue Chrysler LeBaron, but many of the other rides up for grabs were rather interesting.; The neon-green hue of the ’92 Dodge Stealth may not have been attractive, but the custom body kit and strobe lighting across its rear fascia certainly serve as conversation points.; So too do the custom bodywork on a pair of ’82 Chevy Camaros.; One of those cars is a near-lookalike to a concept that GM still owns.
My personal favorite is the 1988 GMC Sierra.; More than just an everyday C/K pickup, this truck sports a 415 cubic-inch V-8 that’s good for nearly 450 hp.; If that weren’t enough, the rear of the cab was sliced open to accommodate a pair of rear-facing bucket seats,; a la Subaru Brat.; The auctioneers say there’s "[none] other like it," and I’m fairly certain I can take them at their word.
But even some of the later Champ Car pace cars – like a MazdaSpeed 6 or the kitted-out 2006 Ford Mustang GT/CS – would have been good rides.; I was enthused to see not one but three 1998 Ford Contour SVTs up for grabs, all sporting 17-inch BBS alloys, upgraded Brembo brake systems, and incredibly low miles.; I’d have sprung for the gold car; although it had a few more miles on the clock (9000 versus 7500), it also sported a full roll cage, four-point harnesses up front, and adjustable Koni shocks at all four corners.
I’m still awaiting the official results from the sale, but I’m hearing some people may have walked away with some bargains.; Reportedly, the ’88 Buick Reatta pace car (with 12,000 miles) went for $7500 – not unreasonable for a stock Reatta in such condition, but a good buy for one with CART provenance.
Source: Gallivan Auctioneers