The modern-day muscle-car revival has been a great time for enthusiasts. After all, thanks to intense competition among the automakers, fans have seen the debut of instant classics like the Chevrolet Camaro SS, Dodge Challenger Hellcat and Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 – all of which have set their share of performance benchmarks. But those aren’t the only records being set by today’s muscle cars: These hi-power hot rods also are pushing the envelope for charity fund raising at automotive auctions.
Indeed, it’s become an ongoing tradition for automakers to auction off special-edition muscle cars for charity. The current bar is set pretty high, too, with the first Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R recently earning $1 million for the JDRF (formerly the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). Now, that target is in the sights of a new entry from Ford that’s known as the “Ole Yeller” Mustang, and it will go under the hammer on July 28.
A Mustang that Honors a Mustang
Baby boomers and pet lovers needn’t worry about that name, either. A much happier ending is expected from this story than from the one about the similarly titled canine.
You see, although even Ford admits there’s no conclusive proof, one of the enduring tales told about the development of the Blue Oval’s groundbreaking Mustang is that its name was inspired by the North American P-51 Mustang, a military fighter plane that helped turn the tide in World War II. The Ford “Ole Yeller” Mustang makes that connection explicit. It honors a fighter that had been repainted a bright yellow before going on to become an air-show mainstay, as well as the official pace/safety plane of the Reno National Championship Air Races. At the hands of long-time owner Bob Hoover, the original Ole Yeller also set a still-standing record for cross-country travel in a propeller plane. That was achieved in 1985 when Hoover flew the Mustang from Los Angeles, California, to Daytona Beach, Florida, in 5 hours and 20 minutes.
Hammer Time for 526 Horsepower
Such performance may seem like a lot to live up to, but Ford’s Ole Yeller Mustang will be well prepared for low altitude flying on its own. Ford began with a 2016 Shelby GT350 that the brand claims is the “most track-ready and road legal Mustang ever produced.” And if it won’t quite keep pace with the P-51 – which had a top speed of 505 mph – the car certainly makes the most of its 5.2-liter V8 engine. That unit delivers 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, and while the automaker makes no claims for the Shelby’s 0-to-60 performance, experts from the likes of Car and Driver do; they indicate times of 4.3 seconds.
To get the car into its one-of-a-kind Ole Yeller configuration, designers looked to the airplane for an eye-popping yellow exterior with black accents, custom Recaro seats and carbon-fiber upgrades that include an aggressive rear wing.
Taking off on that aviation theme, the car will be sold to the highest bidder on July 28, with proceeds going to support the youth education programs of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). It will be the eighth custom Mustang auctioned for the EAA, after previous editions have helped raise more than $3 million for the group.
Dodge Rises to the Charity Challenge
Yet Ford is far from alone when it comes to getting involved in charity auctions. For example, when Dodge decided to unleash the Challenger Hellcat on U.S. roads, the first one off the chain didn’t go through dealers, it went through a Barrett Jackson auction to benefit Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting people with intellectual disabilities. And as things turned out, the organization did take in a tidy profit on that day, since Hellcat No. 1 was bought for $825,000.
That’s not too shabby, especially when you consider that the car was essentially stock The main difference between the auction vehicle and production models is the Stryker Red exterior finish that was hand-painted onto the former. Per Dodge, no other Challenger will wear that color, which is usually reserved for the Dodge Viper. On the other hand, “stock” for the Hellcat means a supercharged, 707-horsepower Hemi V8 that makes the Challenger the quickest and most powerful muscle car now on sale to retail buyers.
Camaro Leads the Way for United Way
Meanwhile, for the Bowtie brand, the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro helped launch this year’s charity-auction efforts from General Motors: At the end of January, two early editions of the all-new 2016 Camaro were sold to raise funds for United Way, and they brought in a combined $800,000.
One, the very first production model of the 2016 Camaro SS, was as notable for its new buyer as it was for earning $500,000 during the sale. That’s because it was purchased by Rick Hendrick, whose Chevy collection also includes the NASCAR racecars that compete for the Hendrick Motorsports team. Needless to say, as the most powerful Camaro SS ever sold to the public, current editions fit right in among those purpose-built performance machines.
Finally, on the topic of purpose-built racers, it’s worth reporting that the other recent Camaro to cross the block for United Way was a “COPO” model.
The name here hearkens back to Chevy’s old-school Central Office Production Order system, used by some enthusiastic dealers to put together special-edition Camaros for their own stores. Today, that moniker has been reserved for the Chevy COPO Camaro dragsters that the brand sells to support grassroots racing efforts, and the 2016 edition is approved for the NHRA’s Stock Eliminator class. For the charity sale, though, Ford got added assistance from professional NHRA Funny Car driver Courtney Force, who helped design the COPO Camaro’s auction-only graphics package.
That, in turn, helped take in another $300,000 for United Way.