Mecum at Monterey 2010: Prototype Mania

Mecum’s 2nd annual foray into the Monterey scene brought some serious vehicles into the spotlight, including exotics, classics, true collectors items, and some amazing restorations. All beautiful cars, and even a few gorgeous wooden boats erected across the lawn. But more on those later.
The real stars of the auction were the prototype vehicles up for sale. Most concepts displayed to the masses are so far fetched and ridiculous they often end up tucked away to some cobweb infested corner and left for dead. In 1979 Chevy produced a few prototype Corvettes that weren’t exactly shared with the public and never made it to the assembly line. These factory-made Quasimodos were turbocharged and were briefly mentioned in a Road Test magazine article in 1980. All made it safely to the crusher where their existence was quietly ended.
Except for one.

This Turbo L82 Corvette is one of two prototypes in existence today, this one being a Phase 1 prototype where the turbo was carbureted and had two fuel pumps. An electric fuel pump would kick in once boost was reached to keep the supply of fuel going to the thirsty V8. The prototype comes complete with factory labels and interior pieces like a factory Chevrolet boost gauge. It also has a 500 horsepower rating from the factory. All the bells and whistles of a production car are present yet it has hardly ever seen the light of day.

Mark Kammerman, the 2nd owner of the L82 Turbo ‘Vette, has kept the car in like-new condition since he purchased it in the 1980s and stopped driving it all together. It still has the factory paint and original goodies. Provided with the car were original clippings from the October/November issue of “Road Test”, where the car was pictured and described by magazine staff as the “Corvette that Never Was”.
Kammerman says he purchased the car from a private owner who in turn got the car from an executive at Chevy’s Warren Tech Center and has documentation to prove it.
“An executive who was a VP there (at the Warren Tech Center) at the time in charge of computer design asked for the car. So instead of crunching it, they gave it to him. So that’s how it got out” explains Kammerman.
“I’ve done nothing to it, this is all original as it came from the factory… It’s never been painted, never been wrecked, never been raced,” adds Kammerman.
Sitting inside this turbo ‘Vette had a profound effect on the bowels and luckily no stains were added to the car’s pristine interior.

Throwing more fuel to the prototype fire is Jeff Childs’ storage kept Shelby GT350. Turns out it happens to be one of the more important vehicles in Shelby history. Built in 1965, the Shelby GT 350 5S319 prototype was the sort of missing link between the earlier models and the later ’66 and ’67 models.

Through his friend Mark Knaas’ and Childs own research, combined with Shelby American Automobile Club’s (SAAC) own confirmation through records, and the added validation by then-designer Chuck McHose (seen in a vintage picture he took in the 60s with the same car), it was clear they held the keys to an important piece of pony car history.

The car sported styling cues that were found on later models (like the famous GT500 “Eleanor” from Gone in Sixty Seconds) and is believed to be the first American car to have a rear spoiler. Authentic gear and documents were on display during the auction, like the original California black license plate and the registration slip that proved the car’s first sale in ’67 with a manufacture date of ’65. This car, however, sold to a private owner in Washington.

Here’s to hoping that 1990 Nissan Stanza I stored in my mom’s garage starts picking up value soon.
We will have more highlights from the Mecum Monterey Auction throughout the week, so stay tuned!
[Vintage GT 350 photo courtesy of]

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  1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I've always had a weird, secret longing for an '81 Firebird with the 301 Turbo, such is my love of orphan, dead-end developments of popular cars. But I'd trade that dream in for a Turbo 'Vette any day of the week. Unless you could find me a rotary one…

    1. Tim Odell Avatar
      Tim Odell

      Easy to find.
      Just check the prognostications sections of the major auto rags. For 30 years now, the next Vette is going to be mid-engined with a turbo rotary or V6.

      1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        Ahh, were that it was true. I'm holding on for when AMC release their rotary Pacer. Should be any day now.

  2. dukeisduke Avatar

    Wow, dig the carmine interior in the Corvette.

  3. dmilligan Avatar

    I'll take the GT350, thanks. I've got nothing against 'vettes, but I've always loved the GT350s. The perfect Mustang.

  4. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    You know whats weird… although I love vintage Mustangs, for some reason I'd choose the Vette. That interior just feels like…. home.

  5. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
    Peter Tanshanomi

    Is it a prototype Nissan Stanza?

  6. P161911 Avatar

    Is that Corvette really running 15psi of boost?!? It must be to come close to the highly doubtful claim of 500HP. A stock 1980 L82 engine makes 220HP. The turbo adds 280HP!?!

    1. Abe Rodriguez Avatar
      Abe Rodriguez

      From what I know it has a manual boost controller with a minimum setting of 7 psi and a max of 12

  7. FЯeeMan Avatar

    That gauge goes from boost to suck!