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The Candies & Hughes dragster: a great lesson in valuation

Published in blog.hemmings.com

Photos courtesy of Southwest Valuations and Classic Car Auction Group.

No need to remind any of you that we’re well into 2019 – and that dragsters of the Golden Era of drag racing (let’s call it 1963 – 1973, for argument’s sake) are now 50+ years old, if they still exist at all. Which makes for a very cool period of collecting. Gassers, front-engine fuel cars, fuel-altereds, super stocks… and now, the rear-engine fuelers of the later golden years are even being found, restored, and collected.

In the world of collectible drag racing, rear-engine fuelers (“REDs”) hadn’t really been paid much mind till now. Their older, front-motored uncles that ran across the Sixties were considered the most beautiful of the sport, and the prices of vintage parts and cars from that period had shot through the upper layers of the atmosphere and are still hovering out there around all those bugcatchers and blower cases that we assume are still orbiting the earth after being coughed up by those early cars.

But, as these things go, the REDs are now being seriously collected. And one of the more well documented of those early cars is the Keith Black Hemi-powered Candies & Hughes Top Fuel dragster. Lucky for you, it’s also being put up for auction later this month, as the owners have brought this meticulously researched restoration to market.

When we first saw this listing, the car’s appraisal had been forwarded to us, and it’s one of the most fascinating works of research we’ve seen in quite some time. And here’s the real treat: after talking with the owners and the appraiser, we’ve been granted permission to publish it here, for your viewing pleasure!

This is incredibly interesting because we’ve certainly spent our fair number of hours in the pits at Bakersfield and on the show grounds of countless car shows, bench-racing the values of all these old restored race cars. And as sure as we can’t pass a gas station or a Marie Callender’s without stopping on the way to said events, we all have very definite opinions of what vintage dragsters, engines, speed parts, wheels, chutes, driver suits, water-slide decals, T-shirts, magazines, posters, and every other wee part having anything to do with historic drag racing is worth in hard dollars.

But, most of us have no idea what goes into the actual valuation of these machines. We’ve redacted some of the sensitive information in this document, but the appraiser – in one of the most thorough conversations we’ve ever had about this stuff – required that we publish the entire document, if we want to publish it at all. Even better for us, since we think you’ll not only appreciate the work he’s done in it, but also the depths to which he went to collect it all.

It might take some time, but brew yourself a fresh pot of coffee and dig into these pages. We promise that you’ll come away a little richer for the experience. Then mark your calendar for the auction of the Candies & Hughes Top Fuel dragster.