We knew that we were in the right place as we pulled up and ahead of us was a pristine white C6 Z06 and a gorgeous Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, one of the few cars I would have taken instead of a Corvette.
Be that as it may, after we received a friendly greeting and paid our $15 we entered the clinically spotless garage/warehouse and were immediately greeted by an astonishing line-up of Ferraris, including a 288 GTO, an F40, an FF, 599 GTO, an Enzo, and a LaFerrari. The latter, a very recent car, has been bringing in over $3 million at auction recently, and the others are not much cheaper. All are in impeccable condition, as are all the cars in the collection.
|Ferrari Enzo, with an F40 visible beside it|
|Ferrari LaFerrari--a really stupid name for an impressive machine|
|1999 Shelby Series 1|
There were lots of other great cars, including an insanely hot-rodded 1972 Oldsmobile VistaCruiser station wagon (!) but what you really want to see at Lingenfelter's are the Corvettes, which make up 40% of the 200 cars in the collection. 80 Corvettes!!!
|Zora Arkus-Duntov's 1954 Corvette "mule," the first Corvette to ever be equipped with the legendary small-block V-8|
Here is a little video about the Lingenfelter Collection, highlighting the Duntov Mule:
The C4 (1983-1996) is the Corvette nobody seems to like very much, with the possible exception of the exotic and very expensive ZR-1s and Callaway Twin Turbos, and the cheapest to buy today. However, there are some exceptions. In the photo above you see a 1995 Guldstrand GS90 Nassau Convertible, which used Corvette underpinnings (albeit with a supercharged engine) and a beautiful body. It was offered by legendary Corvette racer and car builder Dick Guldstrand after the GS90 Coupe (using the more costly ZR-1 as a basis) did not sell well. This was not much cheaper so in the end only six were built. Here is a video about the car:
The other C4 of particular interest is the highly-modified Callaway Speedster, which was meant only to be a concept car at the 1991 Los Angeles Auto Show but interest was high enough that Callaway put the car into limited prodcution. With a body designed by Canadian Paul Deutschman, the Speedster boasted a marvellous wrap-around windshield but also the twin turbo set-up on the "regular" Callaway Twin Turbo, giving the car 403 hp to match its speed looks. 10 of these cars were built and I love the colour of Lingenfelter's Speedster.
Not content with this, Callaway came out with the C16, based on the Sixth Generation Corvette, produced to special order from 2005-2013. Available as a coupe or a speedster, Lingenfelter's car is the latter and even crazier than the C4 version, with 650 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque on tap. The very approachable Ken Lingenfelter was speaking about the car when I caught up to him and heard him explain that the headrests on the C16 was where you could store your helmet!
Ken continued his personal tour with the evil-looking C6RS, an idea that must have seemed good at the time it was hatched in 2007. Basically Pratt & Miller, who manage the Corvette Racing Team for GM, decided to build a street car based on their experience with the race-winning Corvette C6.R. Many of the panels of a C6 Z06 were reworked in carbon fibre and the engine breathed-on to produce over 600 hp. The interior had a great deal of hand-stitched leather but in the end the price for the car was an unpalatable $260,000 for something that still looked like a C6. Then the nail in the coffin was the 2009 launch by GM of the ZR1 Corvette supercar, which had all the performance, if not the interior, of the C6RS for $100,000. Instead of the 25 per year P&M expected to build, a total of seven were produced. The first one, incidentally, went to Jay Leno and is ethanol-powered.
There are lots of other cars to be seen in the collection--Ken Lingenfelter told me that it was too bad they could not open up one of the other buildings down the street with more cars in it!--but I really enjoyed this cross-section of Corvette history. Unsurprisingly given Lingenfelter's connection to GM products, there were also a lot of modified Camaros but I was particularly taken with the nice hot-rodded Chevrolet panel delivery truck.
A memorable morning, indeed! It is clear that Ken Lingenfelter enjoys opening up his collection to the public and the audience of serious car enthusiasts was very happy to be there. Including us. If you go the Lingenfelter Collection website, Open House dates are indicated as there are several during the year.