Mecum Kissimmee 2022: Are These Sales Good Deals?

The gargantuan auction which is Mecum Kissimmee (over 4,500 vehicular lots) is held every January in its namesake Florida city. This year, the big show extends across 13 days, from Thursday January 6 through Sunday January 16. My previous two-day visits to Mecum Harrisburg were mind-numbing and ear-deafening; the thought of attending this circus for its entire duration would require earplugs, aspirin, and frequent excuses to temporarily vacate the premises. In reality, bidders most likely attend only on the days when the lots which interest them are crossing the block.

Mecum purposely schedules the expected show-stoppers for the weekends to maximize TV exposure. In contrast, it’s been traditionally observed that the first few hours or days can bring out the bargains. I therefore took the liberty to peruse results from Days 1 and 2 to see if there were any standout deals. Setting an arbitrary cutoff of $15,000, I found nine cars that struck me as good values for the buyers. These are personal judgements based on photos and sometimes scant descriptions; an in-person examination is always preferable.

The nine cars are listed below in model year order. All were sold on either Thursday Jan. 6 or Friday Jan. 7. The prices below include the 10% buyer’s premium; divide the number by 1.1 to obtain the hammer price. Links are provided to Mecum’s site (I cannot reprint their photos here). In a few cases where a recent BaT sale of a similar car was found, I included a link to that vehicle.


  1. 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 4-door sedan: beige over black, 44k miles, 4-speed stick

SOLD for $11,550

First generation Corvairs usually pop up as 2-door coupes or convertibles. This 4-door (with its GM “flat roof”) is a rarely seen body style. Corvair owners are fanatical, and there’s good club and parts support. If not for the manual gearbox, I would not have included this. As Corvair enthusiasts like to say, “try buying that OTHER air-cooled flat-6 engine car for this kind of money”.


  1. 1971 VW Super Beetle convertible, yellow, black top and interior, mileage not noted, shiny paint, aftermarket wheels

SOLD for $14,300

Car looked very clean in photos; paint is almost too fresh. Lack of mileage indication usually means it’s high. Beetles of all years and body styles have recently garnered more attention at auctions. Like the Corvair, club and parts support are plentiful. BaT sold a very similar ’72 also in yellow in November ’21 for $21,500, making this one look like a deal.


  1. 1975 Plymouth Fury, green, white top, green interior, 440/automatic, no miles listed

SOLD for $11,000     

By 1975, Plymouth had moved the Fury nameplate down a notch to the intermediate platform; the full-size car was called “Gran Fury”. This coupe looked funky, and it’s not a body style that will appeal to many. The only reason for its inclusion here is the 440; obtaining this motor in most other Mopar products would cost multiples of this sale price.


  1. 1977 Chrysler New Yorker 2-door, triple beige, 20k original miles (19,583 shown on the 5-digit odo)

SOLD for $11,000

Forget the Fury; for the hardcore Mopar man (or gal), this was the one to have. If Walter P. were alive in 1977, this would be his company car. The car looks brand-new in photos. Sure, it’s from the Malaise Era, and you need a double-length pole barn to store it, but it’s perfect. And it’s a two-door! Once you learn to parallel park it, you will be the hit at every cruise night and Cars & Coffee you attend. As an added bonus, you can bring all five of your friends.  Oh, and get a gasoline credit card. Maybe two.


  1. 1981 Fiat 124 Spider Limited Edition, gold, tan top and interior, 66k miles, A/C, clean under hood, outside mirror broken off

SOLD for $14,300     

These Spiders, after languishing for years, are getting more attention and more bucks thrown at them. This Limited Edition car (only came in this color) was exceptionally clean-looking (and no rub strips!). BaT sold one in December 2021 for $16,500. Rust is enemy #1; try to not let it ever, ever get wet. Stay on top of maintenance (easy DIY or become friends with Tony) and they’re actually reliable.


  1. 1990 Ford Mustang convertible, 7-UP edition, green, white top and interior, 5.0/automatic, miles not stated

SOLD for $7,150

Fox-body Mustangs continue to be bargains, and I’m waiting for prices to take off. How can you go wrong in a drop-top pony car with a 5.0 V8 for well under 10 grand? Yeah, I also wish it were a stick, but that’s one of the tradeoffs at this number. (Mecum’s Kissimmee lots include many sporty cars with slushboxes; is this a reflection of Florida’s population?) Last month, BaT sold a ’92 ‘vert in the same colors with the same drivetrain for $13,250.


  1. 1992 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, double red, automatic, 35k miles

SOLD for $10,450

Corvette C4 prices are all over the map and largely dependent on miles and condition (and unwanted mods). The attraction here is the low mileage. I’m a fan of the ’91-and-newer restyle, which cleaned things up inside and out. I do think C4s represent a bit of a performance bargain, but the new owner should drive the car and not expect (or worry about) any future upside, which may never come to pass.


  1. 1994 Ford Mustang GT convertible, black and tan, 56k miles, 5.0/automatic

SOLD for $8,800

An additional $1,650 over the ’90 Mustang above nets a car four years newer, wearing updated styling on the SN-95 platform. Personally, it’s a toss-up between the two, and really dependent on color, miles, and service history. Again, the auto is the tradeoff at this number, but it’s still a lot of stylish fun on four wheels for under nine large.


  1. 1995 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 convertible, blue/white top/black interior, miles not stated, 5.7L/6-speed

SOLD for $8,250

I’ve not forgotten my bow-tie friends (some of whom look askance at Mustangs), so here is a very attractive Z28 drop-top with a stick (must have been brought in from outside of FL) for well under five figures. In October ’21, BaT sold a black ’95 Z28 with only 9k on the clock but with an automatic for $14,060; I’d rather have this blue one and pocket the almost 6 grand difference.


When Kissimmee is over, Mecum will brag about the high-five figure, six-figure, and (if there are any) seven-figure sales, implying that ALL their sold units went for big bucks. The collector car market is very strong right now; selling is favoring the sellers. That does not mean that bargains don’t exist, a point proven by these 9 examples (8 if you take away the Fury). The trick with auctions is to be at the right place at the right time. Looking at “sold” results is hindsight. With this many cars crossing the block, some are bound to fall through the cracks. (Mecum will keep a bidding session active for only one to two minutes.) The savvy bidder researches the lots of interest ahead of time, sets an upper limit, then places her/himself near the block, ready to bid. Each of these cars was sold to someone who is convinced they got a good deal, and they did.






Irv Gordon Joins Sunday Breakfast Run, Oct. 2010

As I continue to cycle through my photo files in search of automotive adventures which haven’t yet made their way into a blog post , I came across this gem. In October of 2010, we had a breakfast run which for the first and only time included our friend Irv Gordon, driving his Volvo 1800S no less.

Irv informs me he’s ready for breakfast

Irv, for those few who may not be familiar, holds the Guinness World Record for number of miles recorded on a privately-owned passenger car (he eventually surpassed 3 million miles). Many of us employed at Volvo Cars North America (VCNA) got to know Irv professionally, and once you know Irv, it’s difficult not to also know him personally. A large part of Irv’s success was due to his outgoing personality, good-natured warmth, and delight in sharing stories about his beloved Volvo sports car, which he bought new in 1966.

The shadows reveal how early in the morning we gathered on this sunny October Sunday

Driving from his Long Island home to northern Jersey for a one-hour ride to breakfast would be the equivalent for most of us to driving to the corner store for coffee. But join us he did, and I would guess that he knew most of the fellow participants already. The photos reveal just how small the Sunday morning breakfast group was at this time. It was great to have Irv out with us; while he was regularly invited to join subsequent breakfast drives, he was never able to attend another one. His typical excuse? He was on the road, headed to some other event somewhere else in the USA.

Presumably after we’ve eaten, as we’re all smiling

We lost Irv in 2018, and his Volvo is now housed within the Volvo Car USA Heritage Collection.

John and his C3 Corvette


Peter and his C3 Corvette


Paul and his ’69 Camaro


Burton and his C1 Corvette


Rich and son with his Mustang


Larry with his Monte Carlo


Steve and son with his Malibu


Irv with his ’66 Volvo 1800S


All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.



Are These the Auction Cars That Got Away?

It can be entertaining to reminisce about “the one that got away”. Whether it’s the big fish that broke loose from your hook, or the college flame you think you should have married (and admit it, it wouldn’t have worked out), we occasionally think about the “almost” events from our past.

Those of us in the collector car hobby are particularly expert at this game. I haven’t met a single classic car fan who hasn’t cried on my shoulder about the one that should never have left the garage. A variation of that theme are the cars we could have purchased at auction and didn’t.

The recent release of Hagerty’s Bull Market List for 2022 provided something of a prompt for this post. I have no beef with their choices and have no plans to rebut them or offer my own. However, the list implies if not outright claims that certain cars will increase in value, some more quickly than others. We therefore swing back to the question of whether one can buy cars, especially at an auction, enjoy them for a while, and then sell them for a profit.

I decided to revisit my blog posts of five years ago, 2016, a year in which I attended auctions in Atlantic City, Carlisle, Harrisburg, and Hershey. Scanning the results, I spotted a few cars which seemed to sell on the low end of pricing compared to what they might bring today. (Let’s temper all this talk about “making a profit” by pointing out that the buyer must cover overhead such as auction fees, taxes, registration, shipping, insurance, maintenance, repair, and storage. Ownership of a car is not “free”.)

Below is my one pick from each of the five auctions I attended that year. The text and photo are carried over from my initial post, and I’ve added comments along with book values and an example of a recent sale.


Here’s what I posted:

Lot #1542, 1995 Jaguar XJS convertible, champagne, brown cloth top, glass rear window, tan interior, 86,900 miles. Car looks very nice from the outside. Some driver’s seat bolster wear, otherwise clean interior. 6 cylinder, automatic, nice alloy wheels, paint looks great except for repainted passenger door (but it’s hardly noticeable). Sign on the dash said “not sold on Friday, but for sale at asking price of $9,500”. Online, the car was reported sold for $8,000. CPI values the car between $10,250 (#3) and $17,425 (#2). We would rate is at 3+ and call it very well bought.

Feb. 2016, G. Potter King Auction: 1995 Jaguar XJS
Here are my thoughts in 2021:

I remember this car well, thought it was very attractive, and thought it was a steal in 2016. That steal looks even better in 2021. CPI values the car in Dec. ’21 between $12,400 (#3) and $22,800 (#2). Bring a Trailer (BaT) sold a very similar one in October ’21 for $23,050. That eight grand sale is looking good.



Here’s what I posted:

F464 1991 Chevy Corvette coupe, VIN 1G1YY2386M5104468, white, smoke glass top, 5.7L V8, automatic, 24,000 original miles, just serviced. Corvette alloy wheels are unmarked. Nose shows no paint chips or scrapes. Door seals in good shape. Interior is blue/gray, automatic, with slight carpet wear. Interior supports mileage claim. Paint looks original, all looks presentable. Glass OK. This car was very late in crossing the block, but bidder interest was high, possibly because of the low miles. Car was still sold within the CPI “good” range, so we’ll call this one well-bought.


HIGH BID: $9,200 SOLD!

CPI: $9,000-15,000

Apr. 2016, Spring Carlisle Auction: 1991 Corvette
Here are my thoughts in 2021:

This was when I started noticing how inexpensive C4 Corvettes were. To me, this car was a trade-off between the low miles and the auto gearbox. Since then, I’ve noticed that C4 values have been flat, as evidenced by the CPI numbers in the Dec. ’21 book: good-to-excellent values are between $7,000 and $13,500, meaning they’ve actually dropped in the last five years. On BaT, almost all the C4s are either ZR-1s or convertibles, and all have low mileage. The closest comp is this ’91 with 16k on it which sold for $15,000. The buyer of this white car would only be ahead if the car remained parked, and what’s the point of that?


Here’s what I posted:


Condition estimate: 2+

SOLD for $15,500

This generation SL is hot right now, especially the 450-SLs from the late ‘70s like this one, and the final 560-SLs. Many of the ones we see at auction are dogs; this one was decidedly not. Price was not a bargain, but fair for a very presentable Benz. This car can likely be enjoyed and then sold in several years for the same or a little more.

Jul. 2016, Mecum Harrisburg auction: 1977 MB 450SL
Here are my thoughts in 2021:

Awfully cheeky of me to write that, eh? Actually, R107 (platform name) Benzes have stayed hot, but particularly the final iteration, the 560SL models which were offered through 1989. Values of older ones like this 450SL are highly dependent on condition. I rated this car as a 2+. The current CPI values these between $12,800 and $28,000 for a good-to-excellent car. So I’ll stand behind my words from April 2016 and state that you could sell this car in this condition today for “a little more” than you paid for it in 2016. Here’s a recent sale of a ’78 450SL for $20,500 on BaT which supports the value range.



Here’s what I posted:

Lot #T131, 1978 VW Beetle convertible, orange, white top, white painted alloy wheels, black vinyl seats. Sold for $5,750. While I did not examine this car closely, it appeared to be solid, with good paint and a good top. The white painted wheels must go, but that’s an easy fix. Sold for about half book price, perhaps because this audience wants muscle cars.

Oct. 2016, Fall Carlisle Auction: 1977 VW Beetle convertible
Here are my thoughts in 2021:

Of all the cars from my youth, I confess that air-cooled VW Bugs were my guess for cars to least likely appreciate and become collector-car-worthy. Of course, I was wrong. Exhibit A as represented here are the final run of Beetle convertibles, especially the 1979 final-year ones. This ’78 is close enough to that. I did note that at $5,750, this car sold “for about half book price” making book price back then about $12,000. The Dec. ’21 CPI puts these drop-tops between $15,000 for “good” to $32,000 for “excellent”. Earlier this month, BaT sold a black-on-black ’79 for $15,000, so our orange Beetle owner would do ok if they sold it today.



Here’s what I posted:

Lot #142, 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, red with tan interior, pre-sale estimate of $900,000 – $1,100,000

SOLD for $750,000

This was another cosmetic stunner, even if its red-over-tan was a change from its factory blue-over-cream. Claimed to come from long-term ownership, I had every reason to expect the car to break into seven figures. These 300SL roadsters long ago achieved price parity with their Gullwing brothers. Therefore, it came as a total shock to watch the hammer fall at a number so far below the low estimate. Was it the color change, did the audience see something I didn’t, or is the market that soft?

Oct. 2016, RM Hershey Auction: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster
Here are my thoughts in 2021:

Mercedes-Benz 300SLs, both Gullwing and Roadster, are true blue-chip collectibles, meaning that their values are better than money in the bank. While there may be the occasional backslide, the law of supply and demand (few cars exist, moneyed buyers are a-plenty) means that waiting out any blip is simply a matter of patience. Yet as I asked above, did this one slip through the cracks? The only fault was the color change, and as long as factory colors are chosen, there is no real knock to value. Today’s CPI puts this car between $1.2 and $1.5 million (if you have to ask….). If it was flipped for a profit, let’s hope the owner at least got to enjoy driving it a bit. As you might imagine, online sales are few and far between. BaT did sell a Roadster in July of this year for $1.4 million.

It’s easy to be the armchair quarterback and say “you shoulda bought that one, you coulda doubled your money!”. Sure, like I had three quarters of a mil hanging around. Even the least expensive car of these five, the VW, would have likely cost closer to $7,000 when one was done with the initial outlays, including replacing those ugly wheels. My close friends and I agree: the Number One rule is buy what you like because you like it. The speculation game is a gamble and relies on good luck as well as a good eye. It can and does happen, but my experience is that turning a profit on a resale can mean holding onto a car for a while.

All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.











AACA Hershey Meet, October 2009

I’m filling in the gaps in my Hershey coverage. For the most part, I’ve posted a story in my blog within days of returning from the Big Event. The blog started in 2015, and I’ve posted stories and pictures from visits in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021 – there was no Hershey in 2020. (“Hershey” is so massive that in some cases, I had created multiple posts for the same year, so be sure to look for that.)

I’ve now gone back and found photos from visits which predated the beginning of my blog. My photographic coverage is not always as thorough as more recent visits – however, I’ll make the best of what I have. Here, we have jumped back 12 years to 2009. Most of the shots cover the Car Corral, and they leave me with the somewhat confusing impression that I was perhaps looking for a truck (I have never considered myself a truck guy). In retrospect, I believe that I had latched onto a suspicion that trucks were starting to gain traction as collector vehicles. Maybe I was right for once.

More older Hershey coverage will be posted in the upcoming weeks.


The Flea Market was still packed with plenty of original pre-war sheetmetal for your restoration needs
What, no masks? Oh wait, this was 2009. Attendance was still strong all week.


The owner of this 1940 Olds, on display in HPOF, claimed that it was one of the earliest Oldsmobiles factory fitted with an automatic transmission.
I took these photos for a friend who was looking for a Model A Roadster in the low $20s; this was the closest to that price I could find.


Even now I remember thinking this Chevy was a good deal in 2009; CPI values this truck in #3 condition at $17k and #2 condition at $47k.
Truck appears to be done similar to Lil Red Express; these were never as popular as Ford or Chevy pickups; CPI values this in #2 condition at $15k.
My dear friend Pete was there with his one-owner (him) ’79 Volvo 265; that’s Pete with his wife and my wife in the wayback. He has since sold this car.
No, pickup trucks CANNOT go anywhere they want, at least not without getting into a little trouble.


All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.




The August 2008 AACA Regional Tour, Springfield MA

In August 2008, I participated in my first Regional AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Tour. AACA tours are very different from rallies like the New England 1000, which by this time I had participated in about a half dozen times. A “tour” is much more relaxed, offering greater freedom for one to tour local sites on one’s own schedule.

My wife came along on this one and enjoyed its more laid-back pace compared to the one NE1000 rally in which she participated, in 2001. We did this Berkshires/Springfield tour in my 1968 Mustang California Special, and she also appreciated the higher level of comfort than was offered in the MGB which was our ride in ’01.

The accompanying photos reveal a change from 14 years ago compared to today’s tours: in 2008, most of the participating vehicles were truly “older cars”. You’ll see that vehicles from the ’40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s comprise the majority of the iron. Today’s tour vehicles are about 50% from the ‘80s and ‘90s (nothing wrong with that as they meet the AACA ‘twenty-five years or older’ rule), and about 50% modern iron, likely because the aging AACA membership is simply more comfortable driving their 3- or 4-year-old SUV with climate control, cruise control, and Bluetooth phone control.

A highlight of the week was our visit to Tanglewood. Tour participants were allowed to drive onto the grounds, and our cars became an ad hoc car show in the afternoon before the concert. While I was already a member of the National AACA when I signed up for this event, it was here where I met a small gang from Noo Joisy who corralled me into joining their Regional Chapter, where I’ve been a somewhat active member these past dozen years.

A note about the photos: these are a mix of digital and film photos, and could be one of the last times I depended on a film camera for documenting an event. Enjoy the shots!


All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

MY TAKE: Are Additional Dealer Markups Free-Market Capitalism or Blind Chutzpah?

I first heard of ADM (Additional Dealer Markups) around 1970, when the then-new Datsun 240Z was launched. The press reported that with demand so great for this Japanese sports car, dealers were asking, and getting, hundreds of dollars over its Monroney-label MSRP of $3,500. (There is some misunderstanding about the legally-required Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price. The law says that vehicle manufacturers must establish and publish the MSRP; however, dealers, as independent businesses, are free to ask any price, lower or higher, than the MSRP.)

Since that time there have been innumerable cases of car dealers applying ADM to high-demand vehicles. My initial exposure to it was in 1986 when I worked for the first Acura dealer in New Jersey. Dealer management thought that the new Legend, with an MSRP of $19,298, could easily command another $3,000, and “ADM” labels were affixed to the cars. However, as I was working both service and sales for that fledgling dealer, I don’t recall anyone actually paying over sticker for a Legend. The Mazda Miata, introduced in the summer of 1989 as a 1990 model, created enough demand that dealers were successfully getting their requested ADM. Most recently, the same has been happening with the popular Kia Telluride (my daughter-in-law’s brother admitted paying $2,000 over sticker for his, but saved face by still claiming he got a great deal because today’s pricing is supposedly $10,000 over sticker).

Over the weekend, I brought my wife’s Honda to our local dealer for routine service, and waited there while the work was done. Wandering through the showroom, it was impossible to ignore the bright-yellow Civic 4-door in the corner. It was a 2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition, and this one really is limited: only 1,000 copies worldwide, with 600 coming to the U.S. Compared to the “regular” Type R, the LE sheds 46 pounds, mounts track-ready Michelins on lighter forged aluminum wheels, and adds other performance goodies. Yellow is the only color choice. The Monroney grabs as much attention as the searing paint: MSRP is $44,990. But wait, there’s more: the “Limited Edition Market Adjustment” label tacks on another $50,000, for a final price of $94,990.

A 2021 Honda Civic Type R Limited Edition

For quick comparisons, a new Chevrolet Corvette coupe with the 3LT package starts at $74,145; a new Jaguar F-Type Coupe with AWD starts at $81,500; and a new Lexus LC coupe starts at $93,050. Mull those over in your mind for a few moments.

Yellow is the only color choice for this Limited Edition model

Something had a ring of familiarity to all of this, so I scanned through my photos from earlier this year and discovered that I had taken a snapshot of a similar label six months ago at this same dealer. At that time, the ADM for that car was “only” $25,000. Then I caught the “Limited Edition Number”: in both cases it’s #352 of 600 – it’s the same car!

This Honda dealer has had a 2021 Civic Type R Limited Edition in its showroom since at least May of 2021. In May, the ADM was $25,000. Six months later, still not sold, the ADM for this same car has doubled to $50,000. Is this a marketing strategy? We are less than a month away from calendar year 2022; this 2021 Civic Type R is growing old as it sits. Honda has announced that there will be a 2022 Type R, but it’s not out yet, and there’s no word about a Limited Edition.

From the dealer’s point of view, if you want the LE, they have one, and you’ll have to pay the price. From the consumer’s point of view, this car is already one model year old, and one might be inclined to wait for 2022 model to arrive, never mind giving consideration to what else the $95,000 burning a hole in your pocket could buy.

My take? Personally, the dealer can do whatever it pleases, however, this kind of approach can backfire if it’s perceived that the dealer is gouging, even if you’re not in the market for this model. I also don’t think they will get their ask; ten grand over is a maybe. Finally, I don’t picture the target audience for this car having the scratch, and if they did, the competition in this price range is formidable (my three examples just touch the surface of choices).

What do you think of Additional Dealer Markups in general, and of this dealer’s approach with this particular car?


All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

MY TAKE: Mazda’s Upcoming Inline Engine RWD Gamble

(My Take is a new blog category which will publish on a non-regular basis. It is here where I will put forth ‘my take’ on some automotive trend of the past, present or future. These posts will be primarily text and will feature few or no photographs. Your comments are invited!)

I’m a fan of many different brands of automobiles. Volvo comes to my mind first, largely because I worked for the brand for 30 years. While I would not consider myself a Volvophile in the sense that I think every Volvo ever made is wonderful (I know better than to think that), there are certain standout models to me. Chief among them is the somewhat rare 1971 142E, a 2-door sedan only available in a limited choice of metallic paints, with a leather interior and most importantly, the first fuel-injected engine in a 140-series. I’ve driven a number of them and I would choose one of these over an 1800 sports coupe without hesitation. Similar to this 142E are the first batch of 242 Turbos from the early ‘80s, which drove unlike their more pedestrian non-turbo brethren. Those original turbos had good acceleration, fine handling, and were comfortable to boot. I was very smitten with the 2003 V70 I had for about eight years; it was a non-turbo stick shift car, which made it somewhat unusual. I bought it with around 50,000 miles on it and sold it with 200k on the clock. The moment the new owner drove it out of my driveway I had seller’s remorse. The 2016 V60 AWD I have now helps alleviate that remorse.

I like Ford Mustangs a lot, although now I’m commenting about a make AND model. Having owned both a ’67 and a ’68, those are the ones I prefer, and recently I have found the Fox-body cars from the 1980s to have strong appeal. I’ve never owned one, but I could see that changing during the next few years, especially if it’s the SVO model of ’84-’86 with its European-inspired styling and 4-cylinder turbo engine.

Hondas are great, and that opinion goes back to the 1977 Accord 3-door hatchback which my mom bought new. Although equipped with the somewhat dreadful 2-speed semi-automatic “Hondamatic” transmission, driving that car was my first large-scale exposure to Asian vehicles and it was a revelation. Looking back, it is no surprise that Americans, when faced with the choice of a malaise-era domestic product or this $3,995 wonder from Honda chose the latter in droves. About 20 years ago, my wife bought a new ’99 Civic stick shift which she had for years; aside from routine oil changes, that car went 80,000 miles with repairs limited to a set of tires and front brake pads. Nothing else broke. At present, she drives an Odyssey and while she despises the sheer bulk of it, it has been as dependable as her Civic was.

Mazda is yet another brand of which I’m very fond, and with which I’ve had a lot of seat time. Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve owned my 1993 Miata for over 25 years, plus there have been other Mazdas in the family. We have had both a Mazda3 and a Mazda5, and both were fun to drive. My stepson had a Mazda3 he bought new, and is still driving the CX-9 he bought over 10 years ago and which has served him well. Ages ago, a good friend bought a new first-generation RX-7 with its novel rotary engine, and as soon as I drove his, I understood what all the hoopla was about. Other Mazda models within my circle of infatuation include the second and third generations of the rotary RX-7, the RX-2, RX-3 and RX-4 rotary cars of my teenage years, and even the CX-7 SUV, which I thought was one of the better-looking crossovers of its time.

Four family Mazdas in my driveway

I want to explore Mazda as a brand a bit more, mainly because compared to Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, Mazda has not launched an upmarket luxury brand, although they have considered the concept. Most car enthusiasts know that Honda began this trend with their launch of the Acura nameplate in 1986. It took a few years, but in 1990, Toyota followed suit with the Lexus brand, and Nissan did likewise with Infiniti. There was a major engineering difference, though, between Acura and the two other luxury upstarts from Japan. The initial Acura models, the Integra and Legend, continued with FWD as had all recent Honda models. The Integra, built on a Civic platform, used only 4-cylinder engines, while the Legend debuted Honda’s first V6 for road cars. (The Accord would not get this V6 until 1995.) Infiniti and Lexus also introduced several models at launch, however, their largest models, the Lexus LS400 and the Infiniti Q45 were both built on RWD platforms and were powered by V8 engines, the better to compete with their targeted rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Both these German marques had based their entire success on big engine rear-wheel-drive cars to deliver power, comfort, and control. Acuras drove like, well, the FWD Hondas upon which they were based.

While this was going on, Mazda toyed with the idea of following a similar path, and went so far as to introduce a new nameplate, Amati, as their upscale brand. The plug was pulled on Amati for reasons too involved to relate here, but one vehicle originally intended for the Amati franchise was eventually sold in the U.S. as the Mazda Millenia. Like the Acura Legend, the Millenia had a V6 engine sending power to the front wheels, so it would not have been a direct competitor to the LS400 and Q45. With the exception of the sporty Miata, RX-7, and RX-8, all recent Mazda car models have been FWD with AWD an option on some.

News broke in 2020 that Mazda was developing a new platform for its aging Mazda6 mid-size car, and for the first time, this model would be switching to a RWD platform. Possibly even more shocking was the accompanying news that the new platform would include a longitudinally mounted inline-6 engine. On the whole, most cars and smaller SUVs use transversely-mounted engines both to save space and to make it easier to deliver power to the front wheels. Mazda’s new platform is certainly bucking the trend, and I would argue that the inline-6 is just as ground-breaking as the change to RWD. At present, very few engines in new vehicles are inline sixes. BMW never stopped building them, and Mercedes-Benz recently switched away from V6 engines and back to straight sixes.

Why the change? There are many good reasons. One is manufacturing logistics. Companies building inline-4 and inline-6, and in some cases inline-5 engines, can find economies of scale if these engines share cylinder displacement, bore spacing, pistons, con rods, and other parts. Inline engines use fewer parts than V-shaped engines, that is to say, fewer cylinder heads, camshafts, and exhaust manifolds to name some obvious examples. Another is the realization that an inline-six is inherently more balanced than a V6, and provides a smoother power delivery. Another factor, and a big reason why Benz switched, is adaptation of hybrid technology. An electric motor can more easily be accommodated, and that motor provides both a propulsive boost and acts as a combined starter/alternator. The upgraded electrics, at least in the Benz, also eliminate belt-driven power steering pumps, water pumps, and A/C compressors, which are therefore electrically operated.

One would easily presume that this new Mazda platform is a signal that they are finally entering the market with a new luxury marque, but the home office is indicating otherwise. Mazda, it seems, will be trying to straddle the line by moving some of its brand upmarket, while still selling “economy cars” like the Mazda3. By the way, although I mentioned the Mazda6 car, this new platform may see greater use under the next generation of Mazda SUVs, to be precise, the replacement for the CX-9, and possibly the return of the CX-7. Mazda hopes that these new RWD-based sport utilities will prove to be competitive with the ever-expanding field of near-luxury SUVs, meaning everything from the Subaru Ascent and VW Atlas to the Acura MDX and Volvo XC60, not to mention the plethora of German SUVs from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

Will it succeed? My built-in favoritism for Mazda makes it difficult for me to answer objectively. Of course I hope they succeed. One way in which this might happen is by establishing the uniqueness of this architecture within the competitive set. Doing so will require educating the average customer as to the advantages of a longitudinally-mounted inline engine driving the rear wheels. I know from owning FWD, RWD, and AWD cars that the rear-drive cars offer the best ride, as long as one doesn’t need the traction advantages of FWD. Customers should also be made aware that the inline-six-cylinder engine is one of the great underappreciated motor configurations. Finally, depending on pricing, which we obviously won’t know for a long time, the value-for-the-money equation should help drive home the advantages of a near-luxury Mazda which is still labeled a Mazda.

Mazda may be taking what seems like a cautious approach, but they know the costs and risks of investing in an entirely new brand. A new marque’s necessity for a ground-up dealer network is a financial trap of particular concern from which it may be difficult to recover. I am hopeful that future Mazda models which share engineering features with luxury makes but which are priced to the consumers’ advantage makes for a winning formula for them.


All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.




My 1990 Volvo 740GL sedan

After ten dynamic years working as a field representative for VCNA (Volvo Cars North America), during which time a company car was a business necessity, in 2006 I was transferred back to headquarters. Part of the initial discussion with my new management team centered around transportation, and I was assured that engineers in Product Engineering such as myself would have a Volvo test car as a component of performing their job.

That lasted about six months. The mid-aughts were a tough time for Volvo: our owners, the Ford Motor Company, paid little attention to us, money was tight, Volvo’s sales had nosedived, and cutbacks were sought everywhere. Around this same time, my mother was considering new wheels for herself. Her 1990 Volvo 740 was in great shape, but she thought that one final new car would be a nice treat. She visited Volvo of Princeton, the dealer which had been regularly servicing her 740, and bought a brand new 2006 S60 sedan. (She surprised us all by picking a bright red one, and yes, it was her final car.)

We didn’t even request a trade appraisal; instead, needing wheels once my company car was yanked, I bought the 740 from my mom and turned it into my daily driver. At that time it had around 190,000 miles and was in impeccable shape for its age, as my mother garaged it every night. Despite frequent dealer servicing, there were a few mechanical needs to which I attended. Cosmetically, the dark grey bumpers had faded to something approaching white. I bought SEM bumper paint, removed both bumpers from the car to avoid overspray, and repainted them. I was quite pleased with the result. I also found a nice set of Volvo alloys on Craigslist, and used the factory steelies for winter tires.

I drove it for about two years, and when I spotted an ad on a bulletin board in Rockleigh for a 2003 non-turbo V70 with a stick shift, I grabbed that and sold mom’s old 740.

Recently, while rummaging through some digital files, I came across the photos I had taken for the ad for the 1990. I had not seen these pics in a while, I was struck by how clean the car was. It had 210,000 miles on it when I sold it, yet had original paint which still gleamed. The ad I wrote noted that the only defects were a sagging headliner, an inoperative power antenna, and a non-functioning digital radio readout. I asked for, and got, $3,000 for the car.

Not too many 700-series Volvos from this era have survived. I see more 240s for sale on the popular classic car websites than I see 740s. However, the website sold an ’87 740 GLE wagon with 293,000 miles on it earlier this month for $6,052. Perhaps I should have held onto my 740 a little longer!







All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.





The 2007 Lime Rock Labor Day Vintage Car Show

I’ve written about Lime Rock Park, specifically its Labor Day weekend Fall Festival, on several previous blog posts. My 1967 Dodge Dart GT convertible was discovered there in 1991, my BMW Isetta was shown there in 2000, and I filed contemporaneous reports in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

This pre-war beauty is perfectly framed under the overpass


Perusing some old photos, I came across pictures that I snapped on my 2007 visit. That’s too long ago for me to have specific memories, however, the photos reveal that the day was bright and sunny, and when the weather cooperates, Lime Rock is one of the best vintage automotive events on the East Coast.


The track is truly in a park-like setting


There is actually one memory worth noting: these snaps were taken with a film camera, likely my Nikon EM, and likely with Kodak Gold ISO 100 or 200 film. I tweaked the brightness and contrast on a few of them, but other than that, their rich color stands out to me. Enjoy the shots!


Jaguar XK-120



The show is heavy with imports





This Porsche 911 looked striking in red




Lime Rock always has a pre-war Alfa Romeo or two





These Elite Loti look like colorful confections




The famous Rolls-Royce grille




Shelby Mustang fastbacks






Got wood?



All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.











The RM Sotheby’s Hershey Auction, 2021

A personal highlight of the annual October sojourn to Hershey is the RM Sotheby’s auction, held just a few miles away from the showfield at the Hershey Lodge. I’ve reported extensively about previous RM Hershey auctions on this blog, and even though my 2021 visit was a one day in-and-out, I still found time to scoot over to The Lodge to take in the cars and some of the auction action.

RM Sotheby’s, at least at this location, prides itself on mainly featuring American iron, much of it pre-war (that would be World War II, which serves as a handy demarcation line, since no vehicles were produced in this country from 1942 to 1945). There continues to be much discussion about the relative value of these older pieces of machinery. For the most part, those who drove them when new have departed; and those who bought them as old used cars right after the war are also quickly vacating the premises.

Showcase cars are displayed inside pre-auction


The standard argument goes: “If those who had them in their younger years are no longer here, then their value has plummeted”. The reality is a bit more nuanced than that. Car collectors, at least many that I know (and I put myself in this category) have an appreciation for ALL vehicles. One respected observer of this scene whose acquaintance I’ve made told me that the cars of the nineteen teens, twenties, and thirties are gaining a new audience as collectors have learned to appreciate their styling, engineering, and standing in automotive history. As my pictures below will show, some of these cars have an undeniable stately presence that would be an appropriate fit in any collection, no matter how narrow or diverse. Values for pre-war cars may be off their highs of the early aughts, but they’re not selling for twenty cents on the dollar either. As further evidence, nine of the top ten sales at this auction were pre-war, with prices ranging between $170,000 and $1.5 million.

According to RM’s website, the two-day auction achieved a phenomenal 98% sell-through rate. Granted, many of them were no reserve, but many had reserves (for the cars I’ve reported on, the reserve status is stated). The tremendous sell-through can be chalked up to a combination of quality wares, reasonable reserves, and a continued hot collector car market.

A big part of the fun is sitting outside the entrance / exit door and watching these cars run under their own power. The crew handling that job was working non-stop to get some of these old jalopies started and keep them running (and hope that the brakes worked). By the time darkness fell, I was on my way, but it was a glorious way to end my 2021 Hershey visit.

The cars below are listed in ascending sale price order; sale prices were taken from the RM Sotheby’s website, and the 10% buyer’s premium was backed out, so the “sold” price shown is the hammer price.


Lot #285, 1973 Volvo 1800ES, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate $25-30,000. No reserve. Sold for $30,000.

This was the final year for the 1800, and only the ES (station wagon) model was offered. Sold right at the high end of the estimate. CPI values a #2 car at $44,000, which this wasn’t, but 1800s continue to be popular at the moment. Fair price.


Lot #152, 1948 Alvis drophead coupe, 4-cylinder, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate $45-70,000. No reserve. Sold for $34,000.

Alvis was never a big seller on this side of the pond, but I’ve seen a greater number of them come up for sale recently. The two-tone brown and tan wasn’t the most attractive, and the RHD is either a fun factor or a pain. Sold well below estimate. I hope it runs well, because I know nothing about parts availability.


Lot #305, 1958 Edsel Pacer convertible. First model year of Ford’s Fifties flop. Attractive two-tone white and red. Pre-sale estimate $40-50,000. No reserve. Sold for $34,000.

The risk of no reserve is just that, there is NO reserve. This car missed its low pre-sale estimate by eight grand. CPI values these between $44,000 and $84,000, which sounds generous. Still, this is a unique and historic fifties car that should be easily serviced and maintained. It could be a challenge to find another decent ‘50s American convertible at this price. I hope the new owner drives it.


Lot #291, 1957 Chevrolet Corvette, fuel-injected 250-horse 283, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate $70-90,000. With reserve. Sold for $65,000.

Apparently there were two different f.i. horsepower engines, and this was the lower of the two. This sounded too cheap to me, but CPI shows a value range between $53,000 and $100,000. I still think it was well-bought.


Lot #184, 1963 Jaguar E-Type FHC (fixed-head coupe). Red over black, looked great from afar, but a closer inspection revealed rough areas. Pre-sale estimate $90-110,000. With reserve. Sold for $65,000.

This is an early Series 1 car, with the 3.8 six-cylinder, 4-speed with non-synchro first, and low-back bucket seats. Many refinements were added to the ’65 and newer Series 1 cars with the 4.2 engine. See the photo of the rear window: the glass seal was completely hardened, there was paint overspray on it, and the window trim was missing. CPI has these at $88,000 for a #4 (fair) car; $130,000 for #3 (good), and $195,000 for #2 (excellent). Even with the defects, this was a bargain for a Series 1 XKE.


Lot #193, 1956 Jaguar XK140 roadster. 3.4 six, 4-speed. Pre-sale estimate $100-120,000. With reserve. Sold for $77,500.

Another possible Jaguar bargain which sold well below estimate, as CPI has a #3 car at $112,000. This car may have been a little better than that. Try it before you buy it though: the one time I sat in one required lower body contortions to get in and out.


Lot #150, 1939 Alvis pillarless two-door saloon. A unique and never-seen-before body style (and the 2nd Alvis at this auction). Pre-sale estimate $90-130,000. No reserve. Sold for $102,500.

This was one of the more striking pre-war designs at this auction, and certainly rare in the States. The bidders recognized this, and knowing it was a no-reserve sale, they stepped up to a final sale price which was mid-estimate. Guaranteed to be the star at the next all-British car show.


Lot #272, 1934 Packard Eight Coupe. Elegant two-tone light and dark brown. Pre-sale estimate $90-120,000. With reserve. Sold for $105,000.

I’ve been infatuated with almost all Packards I see these last few years, and this one stopped me dead in my tracks. It was stunning, and in close to perfect condition. While it sold mid-estimate, a higher number would have still been reasonable. That’s a lot of Packard for just over six figures.


Lot #274, 1933 Packard Eight Roadster. Dark red, tan convertible top. Looks like the sister car to Lot #272. Pre-sale estimate $120-140,000. No reserve. Sold for $105,000.

I have no explanation for this result. This car, a convertible, sold for the exact same price as the Packard coupe which was just one year newer. Honestly, I did not look at these two cars that closely to discern any condition differences. Maybe the same person bought both cars and now has twin Packards in the collection.



All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.