Story and photos by Ron Kowalke
The Bill “Coyote” Johnson Collection auction could have been billed as having more muscle than a Mr. Universe contest. Held September 14 in Red Oak, Iowa, 77 of the 95 vehicles offered for sale, all with no reserve, fell into the performance car category. The sale was presented by VanDerBrink Auctions and was held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds.
Among the crowd of thousands attending the sale were 1,083 bidders. In addition to the 95 vehicles sold, there were numerous pallets of parts offered, much of it muscle car related. In total, 240 lots sold generating just over $1.3 million.
Johnson told Old Cars that most of his collection came from the southwest of Iowa. According to VanDerBrink Auctions, all but three of the vehicles sold had titles. Johnson received his “Coyote” nickname at an early age due to chasing after Road Runners. Unlike the famous cartoon counterpart, Johnson’s Road Runners were Plymouths and he was able to capture more than a dozen, most of which were sold at the auction. Johnson told Old Cars he’s keeping about a dozen cars to tinker on, including his first Road Runner that he acquired while in high school.
As expected, muscle cars were the top sellers at the sale. A 1972 Plymouth Barracuda hardtop outfitted as an AAR tribute car ranked first, selling for $40,000. It was followed by a ’70 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 hardtop at $35,000. Tied for third place were a ’68 Dodge Charger R/T hardtop and ’78 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am T-top, each selling for $30,500. All were in Old Cars Report Price Guide condition 3.
With the auction’s focus on muscle cars, two of the sale’s better buys were non-performance vehicles that slipped under the radar. A pristine cream-and-coral 1957 Mercury Monclair four-door sedan equipped with the Turnpike Cruiser 368-cid V-8 and fender skirts sold for $5,750, while a weathered, but all-original ’56 Chevy 210 four-door sedan brought $5,100.
The auction’s best buy occurred in the closing stages, when a condition 3 1980 Chevy C30 dually one-ton crew-cab car hauler equipped with a bed winch sold for $3,000.