For the first time since October 2019, I attended a live collector car auction last week when I found myself at the two-day extravaganza known as the Spring Carlisle Auction. The coronavirus pandemic shutdown, with but one exception, had slammed the door on in-person hobby activities in 2020 for me. What changed? A combination of my being fully vaccinated along with the option to spend much of this auction out of doors encouraged me to accept what seemed to be a reduced risk. As an aside, while the Carlisle Auction website “promised” adherence with certain pandemic protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing, sadly, much of the audience ignored them. I was prepared for such flouting of the prescribed requirements and adjusted my behavior accordingly.
With that said, the Carlisle Events staff did their usual fine job: registration was smooth, run sheets were available early in the a.m., cars were arranged in lot order, the action started promptly at noon, about 25 cars per hour were run across the block, and they drove, pushed, or dragged about 200 cars on Thursday and another 175 on Friday into and out of the Expo Center. Sell-through rates seemed high, helped by a number of no-reserve lots, and while there were few bargains, prices seemed fair if a bit closer to retail (this is still very much an auction dominated by dealers here to buy and sell).
While it’s easy for me to look at the entire consignment list and opine that it consisted of the usual suspects (GM and FoMoCo products of the ‘50s, ‘60s, & ‘70s), I was struck by the number of pre-war, meaning 1942 and older cars, offered here. While a few were “rodded and modded”, many were either unrestored or restored to original spec. These included a 1931 Chevy, a 1925 Nash, and a 1942 Studebaker. The two documented below, the 1931 Pontiac and 1939 Packard, sold between $10k and $15k, so this segment of the hobby remains both accessible and of interest to some.
Do you like the final-generation Thunderbirds? There were four, and all sold, at prices between $7,500 and $12,500. What about orphans? Seven Studebakers ran across the block, although only two met reserves. Pontiac GTOs did well, with 4 out of 5 selling for numbers ranging from $38,500 to $56,000.
Twenty-two of my choices are detailed below; all these cars sold. There were many more which I found interesting, however, I am omitting coverage of cars which did not meet reserve. As always, sold cars are presented in sale price order, and multiple photos are supplied, including interior and engine compartment shots when access was there.
Note that EIGHT of my choices hammered at $10,250 or below (and there were many more not included in this report). For the umpteenth time, to those who maintain that the collector car hobby is no longer affordable, I again provide Exhibit A and remind you to be open-minded about the type of car you’d welcome into your garage.
$3,500 TO $10,250:
Lot T109, 1972 MG Midget, red, black vinyl convertible top, black vinyl interior, 4-cylinder, 4-speed manual, clock shows 63,823 miles (who does that in a Midget?), MG Rostyle wheels are rusty, blackwall tires. Car is somewhat rough all over, but at least shows no rust-through, and appears to be all there. Sold at no reserve.
SOLD for $3,500. I got to speak to the owner as he cleared the snow from the car early Thursday morning. He was a young guy, perhaps early 30s, and said he had several other cars in the auction. This MG was not his usual “flip”, and he, over 6 feet tall, barely fit in it. I ran into him later and asked if he was ok with the result. He said yes, as he had about $2,000 into it. Postscript: walking the Carlisle fairgrounds Car Corral on Friday, I saw this car there with an ask of $7,900. Quick flip attempt indeed.
Lot T103, 1983 Porsche 944 2-door coupe, 2.5L 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual, green, light brown interior. Odometer shows 18,552, likely on its 2nd orbit. Black & silver Porsche alloys, blackwall tires. Underhood condition crusty. These Porsche interiors from the 1980s did not hold up well, and this one shows it, with cracked dash (hidden by dash toupee), worn steering wheel cover, various faded beige and brown bits. Sold at no reserve.
SOLD for $3,500. Porsche is just one of several brands about which it is said “there is no such thing as a cheap one”. Even if it runs well, figure on the need to catch up with postponed maintenance. But it does grant you entry into the PCA (Porsche Club of America).
Lot T104, 1993 Pontiac Grand Prix 2-door coupe, white, grey cloth interior, 76k miles, white wheels, blackwall tires, sunroof, 3.1L V6/automatic, rear spoiler, door-mounted 3-point seat belt in lieu of driver’s air bag. No obvious faults, just a ‘90s used car. Sold at no reserve.
SOLD for $3,800. For under 5 grand, someone got a car which at least in NJ is eligible for antique plates, does not require state inspection, and qualifies for showing at any AACA event in the country.
Lot T110, 2003 Mercedes-Benz SLK230 retractable hardtop-convertible, 2.3L 4-cylinder w/supercharger, automatic, red metallic, two-tone beige & black interior, Mercedes alloys with blackwall tires, 6-digit electronic odometer shows 79,901 miles, interior clean for age and mileage. Sold at no reserve.
SOLD for $6,500. Presuming that the hardtop retracted properly, this could be a fun daily driver, and was slightly well-bought, about two grand below book for a “good” condition car.
Lot F471, 1968 Morris Minor Traveler “woody”, RHD, dark red paint, red interior, 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission, hub caps on cream-painted steel wheels, whitewall tires, driving lamps, headlight eyelids, dual outside mirrors, wood-framed rear quarters and tailgate.
SOLD for $7,000. Another LBC (little British car) that could be had for under five figures, this one looked great, with the only strike against it its RHD (about which I’ve read that you get used to it in about 10 minutes). You’re guaranteed to have the only one at the next Cars & Coffee.
Lot F443, 1966 Ford LTD 2-door fastback, beige paint and interior, Ford wheel covers with narrow whitewall tires, 352 V8/automatic, Ford blue engine looks like it was dipped in a vat of paint, no A/C and no power brakes, cloth upholstery shows some dirt and wear, steering wheel cover color clashes.
SOLD for $8,000. In the earliest days of the hobby, when only pre-war cars were collected, Ford’s Model T and Model A were two of the most popular affordable collector cars. When baby boomers entered the hobby, interest in the full-size Chevys of the ‘50s and ‘60s surged past similar Fords. Most car people don’t think of this ’66 LTD fastback when considering something from that decade, so it was refreshing to see one that survived. This particular example had a number of demerits against it, including blah colors, lack of A/C, and poor attention to detail. However, if Ford Blue runs through your veins and you wanted a full-size car, you could enjoy this one. Fitting an aftermarket A/C system would probably not detract from its value.
Lot T183, 1963 VW Beetle 2-door sedan, red & black paint, red & white interior, VW hub caps on white-painted steel wheels, blackwall tires, 1.6L flat four, four-speed manual, black dash, white wheel, white seats, red & white door panels. Engine compartment clean if not totally original, with open air filter and painted cooling fan.
SOLD for $9,000. Beetles long ago moved up and away from being cheap auction cars. This price seems on the low side, but I didn’t care for the colors (I don’t like this non-original two-tone treatment), and the interior colors seemed wrong (did the door panels fade to orange?). Hopefully the mechanicals check out.
Lot T113, 1939 Packard 4-door Touring Sedan, flathead inline-6, 3-speed manual transmission, black paint, brown mohair interior. Packard hub caps on steel wheels, wide whitewall tires, possibly bias-ply. Odometer reads 29,000 miles, handwritten note inside car claims original miles, and looks believable to me. Black paint is mostly ok, but buffed through along some sharp body creases. All exterior fittings are in place. Interior looks unrestored. Gas ration sticker in back window, service station sticker in driver’s door jamb shows 24k miles in 1977. Some wear on driver’s seat bottom and door panel, but rest of interior looks like it has survived the last 82 years quite well. Sold at no reserve.
SOLD for $10,250. This was one of several cars at the auction which captured my complete attention because of its believable alleged originality. First, it’s a Packard, albeit a “Junior” one with the six, but still a brand that continues to command attention among collectors. Next is it original condition (the car wore an AACA HPOF emblem). Third, it’s a pre-war car that looks like it could potentially complete some tours. It was bought by Country Classic Cars, a collector car dealer in IL, and they obviously see some upside to it at this price.
$11,250 TO $19,000:
Lot T184, 1972 Honda Z600 coupe (incorrectly ID’d as “CVCC”), dark olive green, black interior, black wheels, blackwall tires, 2-cylinder air-cooled engine, 4-speed manual, FWD, shows 42,664 miles, appears repainted and I won’t swear this is an original color, spartan interior shows no defects, tach redlines at 6,000 rpm, and that 600cc twin must scream at those revs.
SOLD for $11,250. The Beetle parked next to this emphasized how tiny this Z600 is. Hammer price fell right between ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ in my price guide. If you’re ok with the color, then it was a fair price; besides, if you want one, when will the next one show up on the block?
Lot T144, 1947 Dodge Deluxe 2-door coupe, black, brown interior, Dodge hubcaps on steel wheels, wide whitewall tires, flathead inline-6 with 3-speed Fluid Drive, sign on car claims 48,000 miles, not impossible to believe. External sun visor looks like an air foil that would keep top speed to 45 mph. Cheap (and easily removed) steering wheel cover detracts from what is otherwise a clean and original interior.
SOLD for $11,500. This immediate post-war Dodge still wears pre-war styling, and this one was in great shape overall. My reference books tell me that this straight six had 230 cubic inches and put out 102 horsepower, just enough for it to get out of its own way. This was a good buy for the few people who might be looking for a ‘40s Dodge.
Lot F424, 1952 Triumph TR2, red, black top & side curtains, black interior, Triumph hub caps on grey steel wheels, blackwall tires, dual fender-mounted outside mirrors, inline 4-cylinder, 4-speed manual transmission, “Pittsburgh Grand Prix” decals on doors, sign claims 59,000 miles.
SOLD for $12,000. While TR3s are seen relatively frequently, it’s rare to spot one of these “small mouth” TR2s. The lack of outside door handles means gaining ingress is accomplished by reaching through the unzipped side curtain to tug at the door pull; that worked fine on the passenger side, but the pull strap was broken on the left side. Paint, which appears too thick to be original, is cracked in various spots, possibly from body flexing during rigorous driving. Based on the decals, it’s nice to know the car has seen use as intended. This was a great buy of an unusual car, and a nice way to get into the British sports car scene.
Lot F451, 1982 Alfa Romeo Spider, cream paint, black convertible top, dark tan interior, 2L inline 4-cylinder, 5-speed manual transmission, aftermarket alloys with blackwall tires, 6-digit odometer reads 35,083, engine compartment clean but not detailed. The model year 1982 Spiders are a sweet spot: Bosch fuel injection replaced the Spica system, yet the cars kept the Series 2 “Kamm tail” rear end styling. Only two minor faults noted: remote trunk release lever loose in its bezel, and battery hold-down lying next to the trunk-mounted battery.
SOLD for $13,000. My photos fail to document the incredible level of originality, correctness, and supremely fine condition of this Alfa. I spent well over 30 minutes crawling on top of, inside of, and under this car, and aside from what is mentioned above, could find no faults with it. My former car-dealer buddy was with me, and he, with his much more critical eye, agreed with my assessment of the car. Paint was original and near perfect, interior showed no wear, top and tires looked new (tires had 2020 date codes), and upon popping the trunk, we found a manila folder full of service receipts going back over 20 years. The only “rust” was a minor scrape on the front belly pan where a curb impact chipped away an inch of paint. Simply put, this was the absolutely cleanest unrestored Alfa spider I have ever seen at an auction. It truly looked like a 4- or 5-year-old used car. Full disclosure: I was prepared to bid on this car, hoping that the American-car-leaning Carlisle audience would ignore it and allow me to steal it for under $10k, but it quickly sailed past that, ending at a somewhat high $13k. Whoever got it has a car to cherish.
Lot T202, 1950 Packard Deluxe, taupe grey, tan cloth interior, Packard hub caps, blackwall tires, straight-eight engine, 3-speed manual with overdrive, odometer shows 56k miles, service stickers on door jamb support mileage, nice woodgrain paint on dash, seat upholstery shows little wear and appears to be unrestored, Packard rubber mats protect carpet, original radio in box in trunk.
SOLD for $13,250. Was consigned by the same owner as Lot T109, the 1972 MG Midget. He told me the Packard came out of dry storage in Kansas, where the owner had put “dozens” of cars up on blocks. This Packard looked like an honest survivor. I’m personally not a fan of the so-called Bathtub Packards, of which this is one, and I preferred the ’39, but this ’50 would be the more usable car of the two.
Lot T186, 1931 Pontiac Custom 2-door sedan, blue & black paint, grey cloth interior, yellow painted wire wheels with wide whitewall tires. Straight six engine, 3-speed manual transmission, spare tire out back. A handsome car and a nicely-done restoration.
SOLD for $15,750. The auctioneer announced at $14k that the “reserve is off”, and with just a few more bids, it sold. This early ‘30s car has the advantage of being enclosed, which makes it more inviting and practical for touring use. This was one of the more attractive pre-war cars here.
Lot T154, 1955 Ford Thunderbird, red, red non-porthole hardtop, red & white interior, full T-Bird wheel covers on red-painted wheels with whitewall tires, 292 V8/automatic, power steering, power seat. Sign on car claims car came from estate. While looking good from 20 feet, a closer inspection shows that much of the paint is crazed, cracked, and flaking in spots. Possibly original paint. Interior is presentable.
SOLD for $16,500. Prices on the 2-seat Birds (Baby Birds) are all over the map, as so much depends on condition, colors, and options. A few years ago, I noted at Hershey that prices seemed to have bottomed out around $20-25k for decent cars; values have since headed up, but only slightly. This may have been cheap for a Baby Bird, but you would need to live with the paint as-is; any attempt to restore it at this price would put you underwater.
Lot F510, 1966 Ford Mustang coupe, emberglo paint, beige interior, 289 V8/automatic, Ford styled steel wheels with whitewall tires, underdash A/C (sign indicates A/C inop), wood steering wheel, aftermarket center console. VIN indicates that car left factory with a 2-barrel carb, now has 4-barrel.
SOLD for $17,500. Car looked very sharp in person, helped by emberglo color, a personal favorite. I did not spend much time looking over this car, but if it’s solid underneath, this was a good deal for a 1st gen Mustang coupe; many of them from my observation trade closer to $20k in this condition.
Lot F480, 1969 Buick Riviera, brown metallic, tan vinyl roof, tan interior, Riviera wheel covers, whitewall tires, V8/automatic, sign claims 84k miles, front cornering lights, bench seat, column shifter, detailed engine compartment. Car appears to lack A/C: can’t see a compressor, and dash controls don’t show a “cool” choice.
SOLD for $19,000. This one’s a frequent flyer: I spotted this same car at the RM Hershey auction in 2018, at which time it sold for $16,000. Two and a half years later, and it sold for three grand more, but with consignment fees and transportation costs, it was likely a wash or even a slight loss for the consignor. Overall, an attractive car with nothing extraordinary about it. These are nice looking Rivs, but it’s very disappointing to see an American luxury car from this era without air.
$23,000 TO $27,250:
Lot T142, 1967 Mercury Cougar XR7 2-door hardtop, white, black vinyl top, black interior, Cragar chrome wheels with narrow whitewall tires, aftermarket side body molding and trunk-mounted luggage rack, 289 V8 with C4 automatic, some chrome upgrades underhood. Allegedly a Texas car, clock shows 34,597, could be first or second time around, but either way, car looks clean and straight, if a bit boring in these colors. I hope that side molding is glued and not screwed into place.
SOLD for $23,000. While not a steal, was a fair price for a pony car that looked like it needed nothing to begin enjoying. The strength of Cougars is that they are still undervalued compared to Mustangs of the same vintage and condition, and I’d argue that the ’67-’68 Cougars are slightly better-looking than the same generation Mustangs.
Lot T175, 1965 Chrysler 300 “L” convertible, light blue, white convertible top, blue interior, full wheel covers on steel wheels, narrow whitewall tires, factory a/c, 413 V8, automatic, final year for the famed letter-series 300 models.
SOLD for $24,000. I originally thought this to be quite a bargain, but my price guide shows this price to basically be retail. It’s the 300 letter-series cars from the late ‘50’s to very early ‘60s which can command numbers approaching $150k. Yet this car still has an air of exclusivity to it, with its 360 hp engine (up from 340 in the New Yorker) and subtle styling touches. When new, pricing started at $4,716 (only the New Yorker station wagons were pricier) and only 400 ’65 droptops were built. This was a nice buy in a powerful and exclusive full size Chrysler.
Lot F435, 1967 Plymouth Barracuda 2-door fastback, silver, red interior, aftermarket wheels, raised white-letter tires, 340 V8, automatic, sign claims “full restoration”, but also notes that interior and undercarriage are original and untouched. Cheap steering wheel cover detracts from what is otherwise a pretty interior. Open air cleaner element dirty, engine compartment could use a detailing.
SOLD for $27,250. While the 1970 and on E-bodies get most of the attention among Barracuda fans, the 1967-1969 cars, available as coupe, fastback, or convertible, have their admirers, your scribe included. This was a nice car that had been taken about 80% of the way toward “excellent”, yet it earned a sale price several thousand above what my price guide shows for an excellent car. Well sold.
$34,500 TO $44,250:
Lot F433, 1957 Ford Thunderbird, grey, white hardtop, red interior, chrome wire wheels with wide whitewall tires, 312 V8, automatic, unable to open hood, but interior shows power brake pedal and add-on A/C unit hanging under dash. Online photos show black soft top and engine dress-up kit.
SOLD for $34,500. This was a cosmetically stunning Baby Bird, helped by the unusual but factory-correct gunmetal grey paint. The colors and condition warranted the price for a car that would be equally at home on a showfield or on a tour.
Lot F546, 1991 Acura NSX coupe, red, two-tone red & black interior, aftermarket alloys with blackwall tires, odometer reads 73,234 miles, mid-mounted V6 with 5-speed manual, car not detailed, interior looks somewhat garish, gives the vibe of “just a used car”.
SOLD for $44,250. After seeing one at the 2013 New England 1000 rally, I briefly considered getting one when prices were around $30k. Of course, they quickly shot up after that, with very clean and low mileage cars almost touching six figures. They have dropped back from their highs of a few years ago, but still command good money. This one had higher miles and didn’t show signs of extraordinary care, and sold for a fair price considering the unknowns.
All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.