One of the principal reasons for attending the Spring Carlisle Auction this year (a two-day event, which ran on April 21 & 22, 2022) was to take the temperature of the collector car market. It’s no secret that special-interest car pricing has exploded since the Covid shutdown began in early 2020. It’s difficult to pin down the exact reasons, but there’s been some influence from new and late-model used vehicle pricing having jumped sky high. We also have collectors who have decided that there’s no time like the present to get the toys of their dreams, and are willing to break open their IRA piggy banks to fund such dreams.
Online auctions, led by Bring a Trailer (BaT), provide real-world results, not just asking prices. A general observation has been that many collector cars are selling for double or triple what they might have fetched several years ago. This in turn has brought back the age-old argument that “the collector car hobby is too expensive! Everything is priced completely out of my range!” And for the umpteenth time, I’m here to argue that this is simply not true, provided you’re open minded as to what you would consider as a ‘collector car’.
I cover 13 sales results below from last week’s Carlisle event. Although I wasn’t necessarily targeting the lower end of the price range, 11 of the 13 cars listed below sold for under $10,000. And these aren’t junk. They are mostly domestic product, with a German economy car and two British sporting roadsters included. Yes, a few of them are 4-door sedans, however, that body style is gaining respect in the hobby. Four of them are convertibles. There are 4-cylinder cars, 6-cylinder ones (including one supercharged) and many V8s. Again, open-mindedness gets you something fun, and most importantly, a foot into the hobby, meaning a car you can drive to a Cars & Coffee event, a Cruise Night, or on a tour with a car club.
Carlisle Auctions is primarily attended by dealers who are looking to pay wholesale so they can flip for a profit. For the individual collector, this event continues to present an opportunity to buy a first or a twenty-first collector car at a price that’s more than fair.
As always, Richard’s Car Blog sorts the auction results IN PRICE ORDER, to give the reader an idea of what types of vehicles sell in similar price ranges. The blog also strives to provide multiple photos of each car, capturing the front, rear, interior, and engine compartment whenever possible.
$3,000 – $5,000:
T215, 1996 Cadillac Eldorado, dark blue/green, taupe interior. Northstar V8, auto, factory alloys, blackwalls. Interior shows expected wear for age. Sign claims “low actual mileage” but miles not verified.
SOLD $3,000. The deal of the day or a never-ending money pit? This car sold midday on Thursday, and I didn’t check it out until after the sale. Is there a bad CarFax? Branded title? Major accident repair? I don’t know, but someone may have done well just to get a running driving car for this money.
T112, 1976 Buick Electra 4-door pillarless hardtop, silver, red vinyl roof, red interior. 455 V8, auto. Clock shows 87k. Blackwall tires, full wheel covers, fender skirts, faded bumper fillers. Paint is shot, silver looks more like primer. Interior ok, driver’s door armrest deteriorated. (No mention if roll of duct tape is included.) Engine compartment a mess. Last year of GM’s full-size cars before the Big Downsizing in ’77.
SOLD $5,000. A neglected old boat, only for the Buick devotee. But hey, who says you can’t get into the hobby cheap? Bring a gas card.
$5,700 – $6,500:
T145, 1960 Rambler 4-door sedan, 6-cylinder, auto (push button!), dark blue body, white top, blackwall tires, white painted wheels with Rambler hub caps. Sign claims 41k original miles, could be true. Interior multi-grey, rubber mats on floor. Quite basic transportation even by 1960 standards.
SOLD $5,750 Rambler/AMC collectors are out there (I know a few), but this car is as plain as plain gets. Perhaps the best one can say is to acknowledge that the car survived. Only for the hardcore Rambler enthusiast.
F470, 1964 Chevrolet Corvair convertible, yellow, white convertible top, wire wheel covers, whitewall tires, aftermarket brown velour seat upholstery, dash cover. Flat-6, 4-speed, claimed 67k miles.
SOLD $6,000. To me, car’s appearance was greatly held back by incorrect seat upholstery; should be all black. No engine specs stated, so presumed this is lower HP version (110?). If underbody is solid, this is something of a deal on a 1st gen Corvair droptop (with the manual a plus). Recent BaT sales have been higher than this.
T101, 1979 Pontiac Bonneville 4-door sedan. V8, auto, Two-tone brown/cream, beige interior. Odometer shows 85k, could be actual. Fender skirts, whitewalls, full wheel covers, color-keyed bodyside molding. Interior shows little wear (driver’s door panel looks amazing for age and miles). Engine compartment could use a detail.
SOLD $6,250. Four door sedans are gathering more respect as collectibles, helped in part by rising values of two door cars. If you’re ok with pillared sedans, this one was nice. The orphaned marque could help or hurt depending on your point of view. (Saw this car in the Car Corral the following day, ask was $10,500.)
F450, 1996 Buick Riviera, 3.8L supercharged V6, auto, FWD. Black paint, chrome factory wheels, grey leather interior. Sign claims 69k original miles. Looks like a 10-year-old well-kept used car.
SOLD $6,500. A great touring car, eligible for all AACA events now that it’s over 25 years old.
$7,500 – $8,250:
T102, 1974 VW Super Beetle, light blue, white interior. Sign claims 53k original miles. Blackwall tires, VW hub caps. Exterior shows well except for (hopefully removable) decals. Interior has cracked dash, paint chips on inside driver’s door, lace-on steering wheel cover, coco floor mats. Engine compartment clean, shows signs of recent service.
SOLD $7,500. #3 condition car sold for #4 money, a rare deal in today’s market. Was the 2nd car run on Thursday, to buyer’s delight and seller’s chagrin.
F492, 1996 Ford Mustang GT convertible, 4.6L V8, auto, sign claims 65k original miles (and 6-digit odo backs that up). Teal green, tan top, tan cloth interior. Blackwall tires on factory alloys, factory rear spoiler. A decent looking used car.
SOLD $7,500. These SN-95 models succeeded the Fox-body cars, and the original styling was derided as being a bit too soft (rectified in the 1999 refresh). These mid-to-late ‘90s Mustangs represent a tremendous value if you’re looking for pony car fun, especially in top-down mode.
T121, 1975 Triumph Spitfire, red, black top, non-original two-tone black/red interior. Painted wheels, center caps and trim rings, blackwall tires. Sign claims 45k original miles. Engine compartment clean.
SOLD $7,750. It doesn’t get much simpler than a Spitfire. You might want to try one on for size before plunking down your hard-earned cash. Still, lots of wind-in-the-hair fun for little money. Great first collector car, as parts are plentiful and the wrenching is easy.
F472, 1952 Packard 200 4-door sedan. Light green, full wheel covers, whitewalls, fender skirts. Original selling dealer emblem on trunk lid. Interior is grey/black, odo reads 23k, no mileage claim. Straight-8 flathead, stick shift, 6 volt. Trunk shows a wide-white 7.60-15 bias-ply tire on spare wheel; how old is that tire?? Sign claims “all original survivor”.
SOLD $8,250. I looked over this car as carefully as I could and could find zero evidence of a respray. It’s entirely possible this car was wearing factory paint. No rust-through was found during a cursory inspection. I’m smitten by any car that can remain as original as this one appears to have done. If true, a wonderful find for the Packard aficionado.
T134, 1997 Jaguar XK8 convertible, V8, auto, dark red, tan top and interior, 88k miles, factory alloys, blackwall tires, interior shows little wear. Sign claims recent service to timing chains and coolant inlets. First year for the XK8.
SOLD $8,250. These have consistently sold in the high four-figures up until recently. Several BaT sales earlier this year were in the mid-teens, so based on that, consider this sale a bit of a bargain.
$17,000 – $32,000:
T217, 1988 Ford Mustang GT convertible. 5.0 V8, automatic, claim is 46k original miles. Blue paint, grey lower cladding, dark blue convertible top, luggage rack, factory alloys, blackwalls. Interior is grey plaid cloth. Overall hard to fault.
SOLD $17,000. Halfway between a CPI #3 and #2 value, price was fair for both parties. I maintain that Fox-body cars are still somewhat of a good deal in this overheated collector market.
F449, 1967 Buick Sport Wagon (with 2nd windshield above passenger seat). Silver, black interior, roof rack, what look like later Buick alloys with oversize tires. Buick 340 V8/automatic. Sign states upgraded with 4-wheel disc brakes and 4-wheel air ride suspension. Interior stock except for auxiliary gauges below dash and light grey floor mats.
SOLD $32,000. This result blew me away. It’s almost twice what CPI shows for a #2 car. Overall, the car was ok but was not presented in a very detailed manner. Perhaps the relative rarity of the Sport Wagon body (similar to the Olds Vista Cruiser) drove the bidders to exuberantly wave their bidders’ cards.
All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.