A Peek Ahead at the Upcoming 2020 Scottsdale Auctions

In the collector car world, there are two major auction “happenings” in the U.S., both named after their locales: the Monterey (CA) auctions every August, and the Scottsdale (AZ) ones in January. All the major auction companies attend, and spend most of the week in an attempt to outdo each other with number of lots, featured consignments, and dollar totals.

Both are watched carefully by hobbyists, media, and pundits, and each has been known to act as a bellwether for the health of the classic car hobby. (We myopic Americans also quickly forget that similar events in the rest of the world perform a similar function, but because they’re “over there” their significance is easily ignored.)

With the more upscale auction houses due to begin dropping the hammer in a few days, I thought it might be educational and entertaining to select one car from each of the “Big 3”, and predict its end result. As it turns out, I have chosen one British, one German, and one Italian car. They are all personal favorites of mine, and I’ve made a habit of following their recent sales trends.

All three are listed as “no reserve” sales, meaning they will sell to the highest bidder. Pre-sale estimates are provided, and auction houses tend to be notoriously optimistic with them, presuming it will encourage bidding. From my observations, many no-reserve cars sell below estimate.

In alphabetical order by auction company:

Bonhams: 1978 Porsche 928, Lot #11, selling Thursday


ESTIMATE: $45,000-55,000 (NO RESERVE)

The car has 21,000 original miles, it’s a stick shift, in beautiful condition, but would you look at those colors! Porsche 928s have long been derided among marque enthusiasts who disdain anything that isn’t air-cooled. Part of the contempt for the model may stem from Porsche’s initial claim that the 928 would “replace” the 911, which the company intended to drop. It didn’t work out that way.

After years of sales languishing in the $5,000-8,000 range for a driver-condition one, enthusiasts have rediscovered the car. That doesn’t make it valuable, though. This one is a first-year edition with the (in)famous Pasha interior, and if you’re not familiar, check out the photos! The only 928s selling for numbers close to this estimate are the final versions from the early 1990s. Still, this car will have its fans.


Gooding & Co: 1969 Alfa Romeo 1750 Spider Veloce, Lot #010, selling Friday


Estimate: $80,000-100,000 (NO RESERVE)

This body style had its debut in 1966 as the Duetto. Its styling was initially considered controversial, coming after the achingly beautiful Giulietta spiders. But The Graduate movie helped put the car into the minds of mainstream America, at least as much as was possible for a semi-affordable Italian two-seater.

Because of its struggles in meeting U.S. emission standards, Alfa Romeo offered no 1968 models for sale here (ditto for 1970). This 1969 spider dropped the Duetto name in favor of “1750 Spider Veloce”. Displacement was up, fuel injection was added to keep the EPA bureaucrats happy, but the basic body shape would live on for a short while longer until the ram bumpers were bolted on.

Really fine Duettos have soared recently to $40,000. Most Alfisti prefer the carbureted Duettos over the Spica-injected later models. This car is gorgeous but the pre-sale estimate is out of whack, and is more appropriate to a perfect late ‘50s-early ‘60s Giulietta.


RM Sotheby’s: 1970 Jaguar E-Type roadster (OTS), Lot #168, selling Thursday


ESTIMATE: $110,000-140,000 (NO RESERVE)

The Jaguar E-Type (also known as the XKE in the USA) is often singled out as one of a small handful of collector cars considered a blue-chip investment. Stunningly beautiful and universally admired when new, E-Types were not just a pretty face, with power and speed to back up its feline curves.

The so-called Series I cars were sold from 1961-1968; the year 1969 brought the first significant styling changes to what became known as the Series II cars, mainly to the bumpers and exterior lights. The Series III cars, made from 1971 through 1974, were all built on an extended wheelbase; many had auto trannies. Under the hood was Jaguar’s V12 which added lots of torque and lots of complexity.

Time has firmly decided in favor of the Series I cars as the most pure and most valuable; the Series III cars have their fans for those who like power; and the Series II cars have become “the affordable E-Type”, with affordable a relative word in this context.

This RM car is a beautiful restoration, and an award winner, but it’s a Series II car. Those who want an XKE and have no price ceiling will seek a Series I. I personally am a fan of the pale primrose color here, but I’ve read that many are not. The pre-sale estimate is slightly optimistic.


What do you think? Are the estimates accurate? How off-base am I? Send in a comment with your own sale price predictions.



9 thoughts on “A Peek Ahead at the Upcoming 2020 Scottsdale Auctions

  1. OK, I’ll bite:

    928: my prediction: $37,500 (Hagerty “excellent”: $65,500) Alfa: my prediction: $60,000 (Hagerty “excellent”: $50,800) E-Type: my prediction: $90,000 (Hagerty “excellent”: $130,000)

    My CPIs are in the new garage/office, so I could not access them for reference.

    In my humble opinion, this should be a new semi-annual feature for Richard’s Car Blog! You realize, however, that you will eventually be expected to offer free RCB T-shirts to those making the closest predictions…

    Mvh, Steve

    stephenhansen@peoplepc.com 909-815-6410


  2. Hi Steve, thanks for your input. I like your style! I did not check Hagerty, however, your guesses are not that far from mine. We will know by the weekend. Thanks again. Best, Richard


  3. Hi guys,
    Just read your blog after the results came in on the 928.
    Auctions are crazy, it depends who really wants a car and how many are bidding against each other. The Jag blew past the estimated prices. Some that buy at auctions don’t look at an exit plan when they may want to sell down the road and don’t care either.
    My guess on the Alpha is $65,000
    On the Jaguar $120,000.
    All the best to you both


    • Hi Bill, and thanks for playing along! I certainly agree with your comment that auction results (and trying to predict auction results) can be crazy. We’ll see how close you get with your guesses, both of which are higher than mine.
      Best, Richard


    • Hi Bob, and yes, the 928 took me and perhaps others by surprise. When these 3 cars are finished with their little cruise over the block, I’ll post a follow-up story with the results. Stay tuned!
      Best, Richard


  4. Late to the contest here. The Porsche apparently just sold for $75,040 including the buyer’s premium! The combination of very low miles, only 2 owners, rare baby poop brown, phone dial wheels and the black/gold Pasha make for a great combination of attributes that attracted at least two enthusiastic bidders.

    The Brumos/Snodgrass provenance may have a similar magnifying effect on the Alfa but I agree that the auction estimate appears to be waaaay optimistic. More like $60-70,000 seem probable.

    I too like the primrose on the E-Type but the Series II mods have always appeared to me as the equivalent of drawing a goatee on the Mona Lisa. I like the under $100k predictions you and Steve have made.


    • Posted this in reply to Bill by mistake:
      Hi Bob, and yes, the 928 took me and perhaps others by surprise. When these 3 cars are finished with their little cruise over the block, I’ll post a follow-up story with the results. Stay tuned!
      Best, Richard


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