AACA Fall Hershey, Part 2: the RM Sotheby’s Auction

RM Sotheby’s again used the backdrop of Fall Hershey to conduct a successful collector car auction at the Hershey Lodge on October 5 and 6, 2017. With cooperative weather, this scribe spent a pleasant Friday evening loitering in the staging tent immediately adjacent to the building entrance.

Each car is labeled with lot number, vehicle specifics, and estimated sale range

The catalog fee, which grants admission for two, is up to $200 (my first Hershey RM auction in 2008 cost me $80). Once inside, one is constrained to one’s seat. I find it more rewarding to be outside, wandering among the lots, watching them be driven into the building, and taking in the auction block action courtesy of the outdoor loudspeakers. It’s also free.

No fewer than four 1951 Fords were lined up, ready to be sold

Recent RM auctions have shown a focus on prewar and immediate postwar domestic iron, and Hershey ’17 continued that trend. Another trend, which we are guaranteed to see escalate, is the sell-off of estate collections. Two such groups of cars were sold on Friday: The Don Gibson collection, six Fords from 1938-1951, and a dozen cars from Thomas F. Derro, the majority of which were Chrysler Corporation vehicles from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

In case there was any doubt, all these cars would find new homes

Let us pause for a moment and discuss this. It’s not difficult to understand what is happening. Collectors are dying. In these cases, the “estate”, whether it be the widow, the offspring, or the dictates of the will, has decided that the family does not wish to deal with the vehicles. Perhaps the interest is not there, or it’s seen as too much work for relatives. Maybe the thoughtful collector prearranges this to make it easy to turn metal and glass into cash.

Enter the auction company. A representative swoops in and states “dear family: you need to do nothing. We will take the cars, clean them, prep them for auction, photograph them, market them, and sell them. We will take our commission, and at the end of the process, you will receive a healthy check.”

While the Gibson collection of Fords may have had reserves attached, all cars sold. By contrast, the Derro collection was conspicuously advertised as being sold “without reserve”, so they all sold too. (As I was not present for the sale of the Derro cars, please check RM’s website for those results.)

The no-reserve sale is a win-win-win. The auction company is guaranteed to get its commission. The estate is guaranteed 100% liquidation. And the bidders, knowing the cars will be sold, have a shot at obtaining something for a bit of a bargain, or at least a fair deal.

These collections, plus many of the other Friday sales, also bust open an oft-repeated myth: “the market for prewar and high-end immediate postwar cars is dying”. This auction showed it to be rather healthy. Is everyone doubling their money on cars they’ve owned for only a few years? Of course not, and that’s not the point. The point is, quality continues to sell.

During the first several dozen sales on Friday, some really nice cars from the ‘30s, ‘40s, and ‘50s were bid to high five-figure and low six-figure numbers. Most of them found new homes. Don’t doubt for a moment that there isn’t value in a supercharged Graham, or V12 Lincoln, or even a Metropolitan convertible. Read on and see what happened at RM Hershey 2017.

NOTE: All “sold” prices shown below are exclusive of 10% sales commission.


LOT #211, 1917 DODGE BROTHERS ROADSTER

SOLD FOR $10,000

These early Dodges were known as finely-engineered cars, and considered quite road-worthy. This one looked complete, and appeared to be a very serviceable older restoration. It started and ran into the building without issue.


LOT #212, 1958 MORRIS MINOR CONVERTIBLE

SOLD FOR $22,000

This cute Minor convertible looked like a recent restoration, done to a correct standard. No obvious modifications from original spec were noted. The car ran well for the short distance it needed to drive.


LOT #219, 1931 DE SOTO ROADSTER

BID TO $39,000 AND NOT SOLD

This DeSoto oozed charm, and looked so much more appealing than the more frequently-seen Ford Model A roadsters of the same vintage. Another advantage for the DeSoto: its straight-six engine. The pre-sale estimate was optimistic at $50-70,000, and the bidding stopped at $39,000. One would like to think that it was close.


LOT #221, 1970 TOYOTA FJ LAND CRUISER

SOLD FOR $38,000

These FJs have become an auction staple, even at a prestigious RM event. This one looked freshly restored. It sold for about the going rate, but my question is, what do you do with it? After paying 38 large plus commission, are you going off-roading?

It’s no more attractive from the rear than it is from the front

LOT #222: 1941 GRAHAM SUPERCHARGED SEDAN

SOLD FOR $77,500

If the body style looks familiar, it’s because Graham used the body dies from Cord to build the Graham sedan. This was a simply elegant prewar car, especially in its rich looking dark blue. Proof that collectors will step up and buy these unique and classy automobiles.

The best (and only) shot I have of the Graham

LOT #225, 1936 LINCOLN V12 CONVERTIBLE SEDAN

SOLD FOR $110,000

Representing true American luxury at a time when many families could not afford a car, this Lincoln V12 competed with the best from Packard and Cadillac. The 4-door convertible body style was about to die, which only adds to the allure of this fine automobile. I could not hear the engine as the big brute motored past me.

1936 Lincoln V12 convertible sedan

FOUR 1951 FORDS, FROM THE GIBSON COLLECTION

LOT #227, CRESTLINER, SOLD FOR $29,000

LOT #228, RED CONVERTIBLE, SOLD FOR $26,000

LOT #230, VICTORIA COUPE, SOLD FOR $35,000

LOT #231, BLUE CONVERTIBLE, SOLD FOR $44,000

Do you like 1951 Fords? Don Gibson did. By ’51, the Ford car was in its 3rd and final year of a styling cycle that debuted to great fanfare in 1949. Ford was also a pioneer among low-priced cars with special rooflines and trim options, such as the Crestliner and Victoria 2-doors seen here. All these cars appeared to be in strong #2 condition. None were steals, but all sold for a fair price, and have lots of life left in the show or cruise circuit.


LOT #233, 1961 AMC METROPOLITAN CONVERTIBLE

SOLD FOR $67,500

That is not a typo. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I, and a number of spectators around me, were speechless as the result was announced. As the kids would say, WTF? The only explanation I can muster is that this car was indicated to be one of only 116 Canadian-spec Metropolitan convertibles. But if that is supposed to explain this unrepeatable price, it’s lost on me.


LOT #234, 1934 LA SALLE CONVERTIBLE

BID TO $127,500 AND NOT SOLD

Of all the Friday auction cars, this is the one that stole my heart. I can’t say that “LaSalle” was ever on my radar before, but the styling of this elegant two-door, one of Harley Earl’s earliest efforts, was perfect in every way. It didn’t sell, but the auctioneer said after taking the final bid, “we are close”. I’d like to think that you could not overpay for such an outstanding automobile.


LOT #236, 1937 CADILLAC V8 CONVERTIBLE SEDAN

SOLD FOR $87,500

Another 4-door convertible, this “lesser” Caddy was competing with V12 and V16 models in the same showroom. Again, we see evidence that well-restored, yet usable, prewar luxury cars continue to find an appreciative audience.

1937 Cadillac convertible sedan

 

Part 3 of my 2017 Hershey coverage will highlight the Saturday car show.

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Fall Carlisle Report, September 2017

Fall Carlisle 2017, a combination automotive flea market, car corral, and auction, was held at the Carlisle Fairgrounds from September 27 through October 1.

From here, it looks like business as usual

As I strolled through the grounds, the same two questions repeated in my head: “Should someone get in while the getting is good?” Or, “Should we get out while there’s still a way out?”

These questions came up because many of us in the hobby are concerned about its future. It always comes back to “what will my old car be worth down the road?” The Carlisle events, principally Spring and Fall Carlisle, have been a wonderful barometer of the hobby for over 40 years. The car corral this year told a markedly different story: corral spaces were perhaps 60% taken (in the past, one usually had to wait for a car to sell for a spot to become available); yet among the cars on the premises, many seemed to have reasonable asking prices.

In 39 years of attending Carlisle, I’ve never seen the car corral look like this

The flea market, on the other hand, was filled to capacity, with nary an open space to be found. Vendors were out in force, even if the crowd on the picture-perfect Friday when I attended was a bit lighter than I would have expected.

We joke, but some of the lunch offerings aren’t bad

I began my morning in the car corral, then after a gourmet lunch under the grandstand, walked a few of the flea market aisles. By 3pm, I was headed across the street to the Expo Center where the Fall 2017 version of Carlisle Auctions was underway. Here we saw the hobby flexing its muscles. The auction has expanded to three days from its previous two; most of the bidders’ seats were taken; and the bidding, while not exceptional, seemed to hold to about a 60-70% sell-through rate. Perhaps, rather than deal with tire kickers in the corral, sellers are rolling the dice on the auction block.

The queue headed into the Expo Center

The photo coverage below is divided into two sections. First, we feature car corral choices with asking prices below 10 grand. If you’ve got some bucks burning a hole in your pocket, or are open-minded enough to be flexible about a first (or additional) collector car, there were plenty to choose from.

Our second section is entitled “Carlisle Auction re-runs”. This is an arbitrary list of vehicles which did not meet reserve. To the credit of the folks who run the show, the high bids are posted on the windshields in plain sight. I sometimes think that going back and trying to negotiate a price AFTER the car has crossed the block might be a better strategy, as it removes the pressure of bidding while the auctioneer is yammering in your ear at 110 decibels.

In both cases, no editorial comment about vehicle condition or value relative to the asking/bid price is supplied. As always, caveat emptor (which is Latin for “collector cars may be worth more or less than what you pay for them”).

 


CAR CORRAL: UNDER $10,000 EDITION

 

1988 Mercedes Benz 560 SL roadster, asking $7,000:

1976 Triumph Spitfire, asking $5,500:

1995 Pontiac Trans Am, asking $8,900:

2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup, asking $9,500:

1987 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, asking $5,400:

1976 Olds Cutlass coupe, asking $9,000:

1985 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 coupe, asking $7,950:

1977 MGB, asking $8,500:

1995 Pontiac Firebird convertible, asking $5,800:

1995 Chevrolet Camaro, asking $6,500:

1978 Ford Thunderbird, asking $9,500:

2002 BMW 330Ci convertible, asking $5,995:

1996 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, asking $6,995:

The most attractive and unusual car in the corral (to me) was this 1974 Fiat 128, claimed to have 12,000 original miles (and it looked it):

 

 


CARLISLE AUCTION RE-RUNS

1969 MGB-GT, no sale at high bid of $6,750:

1939 La Salle, no sale at high bid of $14,000:

1964 Chevrolet Corvair convertible, no sale at high bid of $5,700:

1988 BMW M3, no sale at high bid of $41,000:

1961 Sunbeam Alpine (Tiger ‘conversion’), no sale at high bid of $4,500:

Who needs a cell phone to double as a key? Just carry a screwdriver…

1991 Ford Mustang convertible, no sale at high bid of $7,250:

1979 Chevrolet Corvette, no sale at high bid of $10,000:

1969 Chevrolet El Camino, no sale at high bid of $12,000:

1966 Ford Mustang coupe, no sale at high bid of $11,000:

1964 Chevrolet El Camino, no sale at high bid of $16,000:

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

REPOST: Carlisle Auction Report, April 2015

There is no new material to add to the blog this week. On Friday, I intend to make a one-day visit to Fall Carlisle, and next week is automotive Mecca: 3 days at Fall Hershey. Expect to see full reports here.

In the interim, here’s a blast from the past: one of my very first auction reports. It is interesting to look back at what has changed (and what hasn’t) in the hobby from just two and a half years ago.

Also, for those readers who are relatively new to the blog, this is something you may have missed.

Enjoy!

https://richardscarblog.com/2015/04/27/carlisle-auction-report-april-2015/

 

Mecum Auctions, Harrisburg PA, August 2017

Mecum Auctions came to Harrisburg PA for the fourth consecutive year and held its collector car auction in the Farm Show Complex on August 3, 4, and 5, 2017. A cursory glance at Mecum’s website reveals a litany of events held around the country. In all, 14 different cities play host to a Mecum auction throughout the year, but Harrisburg is the only one situated in the Northeast.

Mecum creates identical auction block set-ups at each venue

The general location is well-known to all fans of special interest cars, as the Pennsylvania capital is almost exactly half-way between the cities of Carlisle, home of Carlisle Events, and Hershey, home to the AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Eastern Fall Meet. The crowds turned out for the auction action, as your scribe was on the ground both Thursday and Friday and observed the standing-room-only scene.

Hardly an empty seat to be found

Mecum advertised that “1000 cars” would be auctioned over 3 days. Thursday’s show started at 10 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m., with about 270 cars crossing the block; Friday started at 9:30 a.m. with automobilia, but the vehicle count almost reached 300, and the final gavel fell after 7 p.m.

The mix of vehicles was truly eclectic – while one could count pre-war cars on two hands, there were some gems from the ‘20s and ‘30s. Foreign jobs, as Tom McCahill might have called them, were well-represented by such famous marques as Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, MG, and Ferrari. The largest count, of course, consisted of ‘60s and ‘70s American muscle cars and resto-mods.

A trend that seems to be growing at Mecum Auctions is the inclusion of what I can only refer to as “late model” vehicles, defined as cars and trucks under 20 years old which can be found in abundance on used car lots around the country. Some are interesting, some are not, but most did sell.

In contrast to previous Harrisburg auctions, this writer didn’t see quite so many bargains. The trend this year favored the sellers. An exception may have been the Mercedes-Benz SLs from the early Seventies through the late Eighties (known by their platform name, R107). Prices for these seemed soft (compared to, say, BringATrailer), but so much depends on condition, maintenance, and upkeep.

The sell-through rate was also strong, guesstimated by me at around 70% for Thursday and Friday. (I was not in attendance on Saturday, which is when the premium lots are run, tempered by higher reserves and greater likelihood of not meeting same.)

Complete auction results are available at www.mecum.com.

Below are results for vehicles which I found interesting. Prices are hammer prices, exclusive of any buyer’s fees. Note that Richard’s Car Blog continues to provide multiple photos of each car, and, organize the sold lots in price order, the better for you, dear reader, to make note of what your dollar can buy.

Click on thumbnail photos to enlarge them.


T116 1982 Lancia Beta Zagato, red with black top and interior. The Zagato model has removable top and soft rear window. Odometer (5-digit analog) is 48,000 miles. Only rust is finger-sized hole in floor on left side. Lancia alloy wheels. Dash is cracked. NO RESERVE.

SOLD for $5,000. I wrongly guessed half this amount, thinking that no one in the room would know what a Lancia was. A Lancia fan got a good car in a rare body style.


 T58 1987 Nissan 300ZX, grey paint and grey cloth interior, 49,000 on analog odometer. Nissan alloys. Very marked up on outside, black marks on RF fender, alloys very marked, black on stainless trim is wearing away. Spoke with owner, he bought car from neighbor, claims that car was well maintained.

SOLD for $5,000. Good daily driver until it snows.


T169 1996 Jaguar XJR, 4-door sedan, supercharged. 4.0L inline 6. British Racing Green non-metallic paint, tan interior. Cosmetically shows very well. Interior particularly spotless. Sunroof, full power accessories. Some paint scratches around fuel filler door, otherwise paint is good. Mileage reported as 70,000.

SOLD for $6,000. If no mechanical needs, may be a great deal in a car that can soak up the miles.


T15.1 1999 Jaguar XK8 convertible, dark red metallic paint, tan top and interior, paint unmarked, 74,500 miles on odometer. V8 and automatic. Condensation in left headlight, touch up of paint chips on right side door edge, staining on top. Doors shut well. Decent overall, but some swirl marks on horizontal surfaces, some scratches on rear quarter.

SOLD for $6,000. These cars have become an auction commodity.


T130.1 1998 Jaguar  XK8 convertible, light gold, tan top and interior. 79,000 miles on odometer. All alloys very pitted, driver’s seat bolster shows more wear than expected. Otherwise presentable. Originally a PA car. NO RESERVE.

SOLD for $6,500. Lot # T15.1 was the better deal, if only because the alloys were in better shape.


T155 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350 SL, 4.5 L V8, med blue metallic, with black interior. As a pre-1973 model, has small bumpers front and rear. Analog 6-digit odometer shows 051,545. Automatic transmission. Interior stock, driver’s seat shows minimal wear. Repainted to decent standard. Engine compartment filthy; a detail here would help immensely. NO RESERVE.

SOLD for $7,000. Nice buy of small-bumper R107 Benz.


T35.1 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, 4.5 L automatic, big bumpers. Dark blue, light cream interior, 169,000 on analog odometer. Driver’s seat bolster worn, and dye worn off, but not torn. Nardi aftermarket wood wheel, interior just looks old. Driver’s door rattles when shut. Chrome shows pitting. Car is a survivor at this mileage.

SOLD for $7,000. Good value if you plan to show it more than drive it.


F92 1988 Alfa spider Graduate, red, black top, tan interior. “Graduate” model was least-equipped of 3 available trim levels, with steel wheels and vinyl upholstery. Aftermarket alloy wheels and rub strips. Driver’s door very difficult to open. Series 3 with duck tail spoiler. Reads 70,751 on 6-digit odometer. Interior is OK as per ‘80s Alfa standards. Whole car could use a detail. NO RESERVE.

SOLD for $7,000.  No bargain for a Series 3 Alfa spider in so-so condition.


T5 2001 Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 – 2.3L supercharged inline 4, automatic, retractable hardtop, black with black and red interior, AMG wheels, paint nice, 119,800 on odometer. Bad rattle in driver’s door.

SOLD for $7,500. Cheap fun until something expensive breaks.


F22, 2006 Jaguar X-Type wagon, V6, automatic, AWD, medium red metallic, tan interior, odometer is 108,587. Interior design and execution is “down market” compared to XK8 siblings. Security cover, rear-mounted CD changer (remember those?). Jaguar alloys are unmarked. Paint is OK. Car has sunroof and factory roof rails. Odd duck of a car.

SOLD for $7,500. Great, now what do you do with it? Drive it, because re-selling it may be a challenge.


85.1 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380 SL , dark red metallic paint, tan vinyl interior 85,000 on 6-digit odometer. Drivers’ seat has a little bagging. Floor mats in red look odd, interior has sun-faded to different shades of tan, photo of black soft top shown, so car has two tops.

SOLD for $8,500. Some life left in it at this price and mileage.


T31 1999 Porsche Boxster, non-S model, flat-6, stick shift, red, black top, black interior. Outside looks decent, headlights are foggy. Odometer is 084,558. Driver’s bolster shows some wear. No indication if IMS bearing done.

SOLD for $8,500. Another commodity, sold for what seemed to be market-value.


F8 1979 VW Beetle convertible, silver, black top and interior, 63,814 on 5-digit analog odometer. Wide whites add nice old-school vibe, doors shut well. Some stone chips in front. Car has been driven and maintained, which is refreshing. Very attractive car compared to many other ‘79s for sale.

SOLD for $9,000. A win-win for both buyer and seller. Lots of fun left.


T65 1995 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, 350 V8, automatic, 33,000 original miles, white, smoke top, black leather interior. No second top. Factory wheels are unmarked. Spoke to owner, told me that car has lived in his garage, and he just doesn’t drive it anymore. Car is unmarked and unmodified.

SOLD for $9,000. At lunch, I ended up sitting next to the seller and his wife. They seemed pleased with the result, and he remembered me when I had looked over his car. The couple on the other side of the lunch table from me overheard us, and said they were the BUYERS of this car! The whole table had a good laugh at the incredible coincidence.

 


T69.1 1949 MG-TC, 4-cylinder, 4-speed, older restoration. Painted non-original bronze, top and interior are tan, engine is red, painted wire wheels. Owner’s son had car here, dad restored car in 1960s, driven 700 miles since. Dad is now deceased, car being sold at NO RESERVE to settle estate. RHD as all TC’s were. Car has nice original vibe, owner claims that car runs well.

SOLD for $11,000. Lots of charm at max of 45 mph. Try to find another running TC at this price.


T96.1 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL, V8, automatic, claimed to be California car. Brown metallic with tan interior, hardtop on car, photo of soft top shown. Odometer reads 110,812. Nardi aftermarket wood wheel, doors shut well, no discernable wear on driver’s seat. Trunk is clean.

SOLD for $11,500. Good value for final year of the 450 SL, possibly held back by color.


T87 1983 Pininfarina (Fiat) 2000 spider, Red, black top, black interior. Claimed 12,600 original miles (possibly), claimed original paint (no way). Giveaway is bottle of body shop touch-up paint in center console. No rust anywhere. Looks like cosmetically well-done restoration of solid car. Engine compartment not up to same standards as paint and interior. New Ansa exhaust.

SOLD for $14,500. One of the nicer Fiat spiders out there, but still highly shocking (and shockingly high).


F42 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 retractable hardtop-convertible, “rare launch edition”, warm silver with black interior. Both doors rattle. (What has happened to Mercedes quality?)  Odometer reads 63,875, paint is unmarked. Factory alloy wheels. With top down, almost all trunk space is pre-empted.

SOLD for $16,000. There were easily a dozen of these in Harrisburg. All sold for about the same money. This was one of the more attractive ones, in both color and condition.


NOTABLE NO-SALES:

 T40.1 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible, 4.0 inline 6, white, tan top and tan interior, outside has add-on gold badges, alloys with fake wire wheel look, tarnished alloy gas filler. Top is worn along edges. Gold badging on back. Stress/heat cracks in tail lights. 85,000 showing on six digit odometer. Could use a good detailing.

NO SALE AT $7,000. How far could we have been from the reserve?

 


F20.1 2006 Jaguar XK8 coupe, 4.2 V8, automatic, BRG non-metallic, tan interior. 75,450 miles on odometer. Headliner is OK (known weak spot for these). Minimal driver’s seat wear. Paint is nice, except for hood, which shows blotching in numerous spots. Either something splashed on it, or there was poor prep on a repaint. Both doors shut well. Jag alloys are attractive and unmarked. Car only let down by hood, which doesn’t affect driving experience.

NO SALE AT $8,000. Based on hood paint, seller should have taken money and run to bank before high bidder changed his mind.


FINAL THOUGHT:

Fakes have been called Clones, Tributes, Recreations; now MIRROR IMAGES???

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

The 2017 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance

The 2017 edition of the Greenwich (CT) Concours d’Elegance marked the 22nd consecutive year for this prestigious event held every June in Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, situated along the harbor in Long Island Sound. As has been the custom, the two-day show features domestic makes on Saturday, and imports on Sunday. Compared to other shows in the Northeast, the Greenwich show stands out for its garden-like setting; its manageable size of about 120 cars; and its high standard of presenting top-notch automobiles.

A longstanding rule for the Wennerstroms, family chairpersons of the Concours, is that any car shown at Greenwich must wait four years for a repeat showing. Your scribe showed his 1967 Alfa Romeo here in 2013, so the car became eligible again this year. Still, one must “apply” in order to be accepted, and my vehicle was readily granted entry.

It was an easy 1.5 hour ride on Sunday morning to the park, with a brief stop along the way to pick up my friend Enzo, making his first foray to this Concours. Unlike almost every other show, where attendees pay an entry fee, Greenwich accepts entrants without charge, AND, provides each owner plus a guest with breakfast, lunch, wine, and a harbor boat ride. The gate fee (which I understood to be $40 this year) supplies the cash for the goodies, as well as a substantial donation for the Americares charity.

Wayne Carini wears shades, goes undetected in Greenwich crowd

Another nicety: cars are arranged in circles, facing outwards, making for a unique and accessible way for attendees to view the wares. We were in Circle G, which I anointed the Etceterini Circle. We were kept company by Swedish, Czech, French, Japanese, German, and other Italian cars (in other words, “cars which did not otherwise easily fit into other circles”).

Other groupings were large enough to represent a single marque: Ferrari, Porsche, Bugatti. British cars (Jaguar, Aston Martin, MG) had their own circle, as did high-end Italians other than Ferrari (Maserati, Lamborghini, Iso). In fairness to the organizers, groupings depend so much on numbers and makes of vehicles, and only so many cars can fit into one “group”. The good news is, the show is small enough that you can walk around and see everything in a few hours.

Two other unique elements: first, new cars are on display. Vehicle manufacturers and local dealers lure the crowds with beautiful new machinery. This year, we were treated to the sights of BMW i8s, Alfa Romeo Stelvios, Maserati Levantes, plus Teslas, McLarens, Lincolns and Cadillacs.

Second, Bonhams held a classic car auction on-site on Sunday, about the sixth or seventh consecutive year for them to be at Greenwich. A large tent is erected at one corner of the park to hold all the auction vehicles. The trend toward barn-finds continues. We saw a Series I Jaguar E-Type roadster which, based on a windshield registration decal, was last on the road in 1975. The car appeared to have been stored top-down in a dusty barn since then. At the other extreme, there were some beautifully-restored vehicles which deserved top dollar. A limiting factor is that the tent precludes the possibility of driving cars across the block. Better do your homework before you raise that paddle.

 

Rupert Banner of Bonhams works the room, er, tent

While the day dawned sunny and dry, the forecast promised wetness by early afternoon, and unfortunately, said forecast was accurate. By 2pm, a gentle shower enveloped the field, and we headed out. While there was no award for the Alfa this year, the car continued to draw its fans, most of who cannot believe that they are looking at an unrestored 50-year-old car with original paint. Its owner will maintain that paint as best he can in hopes of returning to Greenwich in 2021.

GERMAN

White Porsches, 356 & 911

 

Porsche 928 with its apertures open

 

Split-window VW

 

Amphicar

 

BRITISH

Jaguar XK-120 Coupe

 

Jaguar XK-140

 

Jaguar XK-150

 

Jaguar E-Type

 

MGA

 

Aston Martin DB-4

 

FRENCH

The Bugatti Owner’s Club showed up in force, resulting in a significant number (a dozen or more) of these rare French cars on display together. Given their racing history, it is also not surprising to see a higher percentage of unrestored original cars.

 

NON-FERRARI ITALIAN

Maserati Ghibli Spider

 

Lancia Aurelia

 

Lancia Appia

 

Fiat 1200 Spyder

 

Ghia 450 SS

 

Iso Griffo

 

1967 Alfa Romeo GT 1300 Jr.

 

FERRARI

Daytona Spider

 

308 GTS

 

Dino Spider

 

330 GTS

 

275 GTS

 

The End(s)

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

Auction Report: 2017 Spring Carlisle

Carlisle Events held its Spring 2017 Auction at the Carlisle PA Expo Center on April 20, 21, and 22, as always, running concurrently with the Spring Carlisle show. A few years ago, they teamed up with Auctions America, but that marriage broke up, and they are back to being on their own.

For the auction organizers, it’s getting better all the time (to quote Lennon & McCartney). The biggest change for 2017 was moving from a 2-day to a 3-day event; however, that created the problem of lack of parking for the extra cars. The church lot next door was utilized for the overflow. For attendees, it was a challenge at times to find the cars they were seeking out.

Another improvement: run sheets were actually available sooner than one hour before show time. Thursday’s run sheet was posted on their website the evening before! Carlisle has made and continues to make great strides in elevating the auction experience for buyers and sellers alike.

Below are some highlights of cars which sold. We’ll say it yet again: if you want to get into the hobby on a budget and you’re open-minded, there are choices.

Your scribe wishes to point out that this auction report, unlike any other printed or online report, provides both multiple photos of every car, and, arranges the ‘sold’ units in price groups, so that you, dear reader, can get a better sense of what your $6,000, or $10,000, or $20,000 will buy these days. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photos, and enjoy the read.

____________________________________________________________

UNDER $5,000:

Lot F360, 1965 Austin Healey Sprite, 4 cylinder, stick, white, red interior, looks good from 20 ft., still looks OK up close. Possible quickie re-do of paint and upholstery. British Heritage Trust Certificate included. SOLD FOR $3,400. Could be fun provided you fit in.

Lot T109, 1988 Nissan 300ZX, bland in gold metallic, t-tops, beige velour cloth, V6 non-turbo, 5 speed, 88k miles, interior shows some marks on wheel and driver’s door panel, seats are ok, interior is otherwise clean. SOLD FOR $4,600. Possibly the daily-driver deal of the auction.

___________________________________________________________

$5,500 TO $6,100:

Lot T148, 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL, gold, gold hardtop, black interior, V8, automatic. 129k on odometer, doesn’t look it, very clean and straight. SOLD FOR $5,500.  High miles, good price if maintenance is up-to-date, bad price if it’s not.

Lot F317, 1987 Nissan 300ZX, red metallic, beige cloth , V6 non-turbo, automatic, 59k miles, t-tops, clean overall, some wear on center armrest, driver seat adjuster arm missing, engine compartment dirty. SOLD FOR $6,000. Lower miles than Lot T109, but automatic vs manual may make the difference.

Lot F302, 1995 Mercedes-Benz SL500, V8, automatic, black, black hardtop, light beige interior, odometer unknown. Sign on car claims much service work done. Interior shows a lot of wear, driver’s seat foam showing, cracks in a lot of interior plastic. SOLD FOR $6,000. Mileage is likely high, making this no bargain. Drive it until it breaks.

Lot S558, 1994 Jaguar XJS convertible, tan metallic, brown soft top, tan interior. 4.0 L inline-6, automatic. 67k original miles. Looks clean and straight. Sign says “here to be sold”, meaning, the owner has had enough (or, the reserve is really low). SOLD FOR $6,100. If you’re not afraid of British cars, this could be fun. Six-cylinder helps a lot.

________________________________________________________

$8,000 TO $11,000:

Lot T103, 1994 Chevrolet Corvette, hardtop, automatic, red, smoke roof panel, chrome wheels, black interior, LT1 engine, 55,383 miles. Some light aftermarket mods, such as wheels and tail light grilles. Crossed the block and declared NO SALE at $7,500. Later reported SOLD FOR $8,000. C4 Corvettes are on their way up, but there are better deals (and better-looking C4s) out there.

Lot F429, 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL, white, tan interior, 124,444 miles, white hardtop, overall clean and straight, no obvious defects. SOLD FOR $9,250. At this price and mileage, this makes Lot T148 look like a good deal. Besides, 450SLs are worth more than 380SLs.

Lot T106, 2001 Jaguar XK8 convertible, blue, blue soft top, tan interior, automatic, factory wheels, 32k original miles, Wear on driver’s seat looks like from higher mileage car, interior otherwise is OK. SOLD FOR $9,300. Nice if you like blue (which I don’t). Low mileage is key here, placing this in the “well bought” category.

Lot T111, 1966 Ford Mustang convertible, green, black top, beige Pony interior, as ratty as any car ever seen at a Carlisle Auction. Only redeeming factor is “A code” 4-barrel 289 engine. Automatic. Bad green respray, convertible top has tape over holes, rear window opaque. Pony interior is destroyed. Both doors shut poorly; if both doors were opened at the same time, car would fold. A true rat. SOLD FOR $10,750. A shocking price for a car that must be completely restored to be used.

___________________________________________________________

$18,000 TO $21,000:

Lot F414.1, 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL, red, black interior, both tops, claimed 72k original miles. SOLD FOR $18,750. Resale red (and low miles) wowed the crowd into a sale.

Lot S537, 1964 Ford Thunderbird convertible, white, black soft top, black interior. Wire wheels, white walls. 71k miles, claimed original. Paint and interior good, steering wheel worn, underhood a little sloppy in places. Gold 390 looks good in there. SOLD FOR $19,250. Decent mid ‘60s T-Bird in monochrome colors. Good deal as long as the top works.

Lot F424, 1957 Ford Thunderbird, white, red interior, porthole hardtop, full wheel covers, wide whites, 292 V8, auto, sign says “reconstructed title, reissued VIN”. Paint and interior OK, underhood not detailed. SOLD FOR $20,800. On the low side for a 2-seat T-Bird. May be worth it if you’re going to keep it. The title issue may make it hard to resell.

 

All photographs copyright © 2017 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

RM-Sotheby’s Hershey Auction, October 2016

RM-Sotheby’s again held their fall auction in Hershey PA to coincide with the AACA Hershey meet. As has been their custom, this was a two-day event, held at the Hershey Lodge on Thursday and Friday, October 6 & 7, 2016. All the vehicles were staged under two large tents pitched in the Lodge’s parking lot, with the actual auction taking place inside one of the conference rooms.

The RM tent immediately adjacent to the building entrance
The RM tent immediately adjacent to the building entrance

For those unwilling to pay the $200 to sit inside, RM thoughtfully set up loudspeakers outside. By positioning oneself immediately adjacent to the entrance door, one had a clear view of all the cars entering and leaving the building. The PA did a fine job of ensuring that you heard the bidding as it happened.

The vehicles for sale this year were a good mix of domestic and imported product. RM has recently specialized in pre-war vehicles, and despite the naysayers who insist that the audience for most anything built before World War Two is dead, these vehicles continue to garner interest among collectors. We also observed that the trend toward offering unrestored and “barn find” cars continued.

The majority of Thursday’s lots (and many of Friday’s) were listed as “offered without reserve”. (RM has long had a policy that vehicles with pre-sale estimates below a certain amount must be no-reserve sales. Several years ago, that threshold was $50,000. This year it appeared to be closer to $100,000.) Indeed, of the 15 lots covered below, 13 were no-reserve pieces. Perhaps more telling, 9 of these 15 sold under their pre-sale estimate.

You won't find this at Mecum: RM offers history of every lot they sell
You won’t find this at Mecum: RM offers history of every lot they sell

Presented below is a sample of Thursday’s sale results, the only day I was in attendance. SOLD prices are hammer prices, WITHOUT the 10% buyer’s premium. The results are again bracketed in price ranges, to provide a clearer sense of what’s available within a certain budget.

One more point: It is my opinion that remaining outside to directly observe the RM crew valiantly attempt to start and drive these vehicles reveals more about their overall condition than could be gleaned by parking one’s behind inside.


UNDER $10,000:

Lot #111, 1960 Ford Zodiac Mk II Saloon, 4-door sedan, red & white, red interior. Six-cylinder engine with automatic transmission. Pre-sale estimate of $10-15,000.

SOLD at no reserve for $4,000

Never saw one in the metal before, although I’ve seen grainy black and white photos of John, Paul, George and Ringo standing around one. Not the most attractive thing, although the quality of the restoration was decent. Drive it to your next Beatles convention.

 

Lot #117, 1963 Sunbeam Rapier Series III convertible, medium blue, white stripe and top, blue interior. Four-cylinder engine, 4-speed stick on the floor. Pre-sale estimate of $20-25,000.

SOLD at no reserve for $7,500

Another oddball British car, although with arguably a bit more charm than the Zodiac. The restoration looked top-notch, except for Port-a-wall whitewalls pulling away from the sides of the tires. You could have the only one at the next all-British  car show.

 Lot #130, 1963 Sunbeam Alpine Series III convertible, red, red removable hardtop, black interior. Four-cylinder engine with 4-speed stick. Pre-sale estimate of $20-30,000

SOLD at no reserve for $9,000

The car looked OK, possibly a well-kept original or older restoration. Of note, the catalog kept referring to the vehicle as a Series III, while the badges on the fenders and trunk stated Series IV. The hardtop adds to its all-weather use, although the Perspex windows were cracked and glazed.

Lot #116, 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 4-door sedan, bronze metallic, brown interior. Six-cylinder carbureted engine, automatic transmission. Pre-sale estimate of $15-20,000

SOLD at no reserve for $9,000

The catalog claimed this was an all-original car with just under 100,000 miles. My question is, who brings a car to a high-end auction with so many needs? Anyone who stuck their head through the open driver’s window could read the sticky note on the dash: “Brakes are VERY soft. Be prepared to use handbrake.” The RM staff had great trouble starting it, and it barely ran under its own power onto the block. On its way out, it stalled and would not restart. The hammer price is just the start of the expenses.

 

Right here is where it stalled, would not restart
Right here is where it stalled, would not restart

 


$10,000 to $15,000:

Lot #113, 1928 Pontiac 2-door coupe, tan body, black running boards and fenders, orange wood wheels. Six-cylinder engine, 3-speed manual transmission. Pre-sale estimate of $18-25,000

SOLD at no reserve for $12,500

A good-looking pre-war car in attractive colors, it ran well across the block. I’ll call it a good buy for someone interested in Pontiacs which pre-date Silver Streaks and Wide Tracks.

Pre-war Pontiac in handsome colors
Pre-war Pontiac in handsome colors

 

It got in and out under its own power
It got in and out under its own power

 

Lot #115, 1931 Chevrolet Independence 2-door sedan, dark blue body, black fenders, yellow wire wheels with whitewall tires. Six-cylinder engine, 3-speed manual transmission. Pre-sale estimate of $25-30,000

SOLD at no reserve for $15,000

A nice change from the usual Ford Model As, this compared well to the 1928 Pontiac which sold for a similar price. You had a choice of pre-war GM cars for under $20,000.

Nice pre-war Chevrolet
Nice pre-war Chevrolet

 


$20,000 to $35,000:

Lot #112, 1922 Buick Model 22-45 Five Passenger Touring, beige, dark tan fenders, white top. Six-cylinder engine, 3-speed manual transmission. Pre-sale estimate of $25-30,000.

SOLD at no reserve for $22,500

This makes an interesting comparison to the Pontiac and Chevy which sold for substantially less. This Buick appeared to be a more recent restoration (the odometer read 13 miles, and the catalog claimed this was the total mileage since it was restored), yet as a car with open sides, it may be seen as less usable than the two newer closed cars. The seller should be happy: it “almost” made low estimate.

 

Lot #125, 1928 Marmon Model 68 Roadster, blue, black fenders, white top, blue-painted wood wheels with whitewall tires. Inline 8-cylinder engine and 3-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate of $70-90,000.

SOLD at no reserve for $27,500

The catalog claimed that this was a mostly-unrestored car with 38,000 original miles. I thought it looked like a striking and honest automobile. (The straight-8 must give it some oomph.) The question is, was the pre-sale estimate way off, or did someone steal this car?

The Marmon leaves the building to a new owner
The Marmon leaves the building to a new owner

 

Lot #260, 1960 Volvo PV544 Sport 2-door sedan, red with red and white interior. Four-cylinder engine, two carbs, 4-speed manual transmission. Pre-sale estimate of $15-20,000

SOLD at no reserve for $31,000

While you do occasionally see Volvo PVs at auctions, from my experience it is rare to find one so thoroughly restored, and to original specs too. This car sold on Friday, so I was not present to witness what must have been spirited bidding, as the car sold for significantly over its high estimate. The audience recognized the quality of the resto.

Beautifully restored Volvo PV544
Beautifully restored Volvo PV544

 

Volvo's interior appears done to correct specs
Volvo’s interior appears done to correct specs

$50,000 to $90,000:

Lot #114, 1929 Packard Deluxe Eight Roadster. No paint color can be discerned. Inline 8-cylinder engine and 3-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate of $55-75,000.

SOLD at no reserve for $56,000

A barn find, or just a neglected old car? While the write-up assured all that the owner had brought the beast back to running condition, it still needed to be pushed around. Hey, at least it rolled. Sold almost right on its low estimate.

RM staff get their exercise pushing pudgy Packard
RM staff get their exercise pushing pudgy Packard

 

Lot #134, 1962 Ford Thunderbird convertible, white with aqua interior, Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels with wide whites. 390 V8, 3-speed automatic. Pre-sale estimate of $40-45,000.

SOLD at no reserve for $60,000

The catalog claimed that aside from one repaint in its original white, this was mostly an original car. While it looked nice, and I do like these so-called Bullet Birds, I can only explain the sale price blowing past reserve by the fact that the car sat on the block for 10 minutes while two determined bidders duked it out.

Lot #141, 1969 Jaguar E-Type roadster, green with green interior, Series II car with inline 6 and 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate of $60-70,000

SOLD at no reserve for $64,000

At first glance, under the harsh tent lights, this looked like a lovely and well-preserved E-Type. The green-on-green may not be to everyone’s taste, but at least it was all original. Upon closer inspection, one noticed that there was no sheen to the paint at all. It actually looked like primer. The interior was decent, and underhood, things appeared like the car got occasional use and maintenance. This is today’s price for a “driver” Series II E-Type roadster.

The green E leaves the building, "SOLD!"
The green E leaves the building, “SOLD!”

Lot #127, 1935 Packard Eight Convertible Sedan, yellow, black top, wire wheels with whitewalls, tan interior RIGHT HAND DRIVE. Pre-sale estimate of $80-100,000.

SOLD for $70,000

A lovely yet imposing thing, its sale price may have been held back by its steering wheel placement. I don’t pretend to know Packards, but this one sold for only $14,000 more than Lot #114, AND it ran, AND it looked good. If I were in the market for a pre-war Packard, I know which one I would have sprung for.

Packard about to go across the block; note RHD wheel
Packard about to go across the block; note RHD wheel

 

Lot #128, 1959 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, white, silver coves, red interior. 230-hp 283 V8, 4-barrel carb, 4-speed stick shift. Pre-sale estimate of $75-90,000

SOLD at no reserve for $85,000

A stunning cosmetic restoration in striking colors, the catalog claimed that the car has “almost zero miles” since restoration, although the write-up goes on to state that the engine is an “unstamped replacement block”. That did not hold back the bidders. Like the ’62 T-Bird, a contest ensued among several attendees until the hammer price almost reached the high estimate.

C1 Corvette got lots of looks
C1 Corvette got lots of looks

 

Interior freshly restored, looks never sat in
Interior freshly restored, looks never sat in

 

Someone's wallet is $85k lighter, and someone else's is that much heavier
Someone’s wallet is $85k lighter, and someone else’s is that much heavier

 


$300,000 to $750,000:

Lot #140, 1957 Porsche 356A Speedster, orange, black hardtop, black interior. 60-hp 4-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual. Pre-sale estimate of $200-250,000

SOLD at no reserve for $310,000

This is a car which, to the uninitiated, should be sent directly to the junkyard. This Porsche could be the poster child for a “barn find”: It was bought by a man in 1967 who hand-painted it orange over its original white, enjoyed it for a few years, then stored it for 40 years, until it was rediscovered and sold. This 356 got more attention under the tent than anything else on Thursday. After protracted bidding, it screamed past its high estimate. Originality has its price. Shame about the paint.

Barn find Porsche, born white, spray-bombed orange
Barn find Porsche, born white, spray-bombed orange

 

Best I can say about interior is that it's all present
Best I can say about interior is that it’s all present

 

Hardtop likely rare accessory
Hardtop likely rare accessory; note parking lot stickers to left of license plate

 

The Speedster gets driven to its new owner
The Speedster gets driven to its new owner

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?

Beautiful Benz 300SL roadster
Beautiful Benz 300SL roadster
Iconic styling carried over well from Gullwing to this
Iconic styling carried over well from Gullwing to this

 

Interior looks faultless; did someone get a great deal?
Interior looks faultless; did someone get a great deal?

 

All photographs copyright © 2016 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.