By Ronnie Schreiber
Start cutting into the wrong car and you’re likely to get hate mail from brand purists. When Jesse James’ old Monster Garage show turned a fairly rare 1971 Chevy El Camino SS into a Figure 8 race car, the producers wouldn’t tell the seller what their plans were for fear of queering the deal. Now Figure 8, being a step above demo derby, is admittedly not exactly a concours, but Chevy cowboy Cadillacs are not quite as rare as hens’ teeth.
There were 44,606 El Caminos produced in 1971. I remember something guitar dealer and trader George Gruhn said to me about $25,000 Fender Strats and $50,000 Gibson Les Pauls (paraphrased), “Remember, they were built in factories, on assembly lines, by Mexican American immigrant women, not by artisans like Cremona violins.”
Actually, carrying Mr. Gruen’s remarks to their logical conclusion, it’s worth noting that Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri themselves had workshops with craftsmen and apprentices working for them. A ’58 Les Paul may not be a Stradivarius but then a Stradivarius isn’t nearly as rare as a Shelby Daytona Coupe. [continued]
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