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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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.
$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?
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.
$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.
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.
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.
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.
$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.
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?
The good men and women of Carlisle Auctions worked very hard this year to put on an exceptional show for bidders, consignors, and attendees, and they succeeded. Compared to just six months ago, the improvements in organization were obvious.
For example, run sheets for both Thursday’s AND Friday’s cars were out early Thursday morning. (At the Spring 2016 event, Thursday’s run sheets were put out about one hour before the auction began.) For the first time, a large tent was erected to showcase some of the higher-end cars, and the tent had a pass-through directly to the main building.
The quality of the consignments seemed better to this observer, with fewer late-model “just used cars”, and fewer highly-modified rides which have limited appeal. The proof of the higher-caliber merchandise showed in what is guesstimated to be an 85% sell-through rate, much better than their recent auctions. Perhaps Mecum’s presence in Harrisburg has caused the organizers to step up their game.
The one thing the auction team could not control was the weather. After an entire summer season of hot, dry days, Mother Nature decided that Fall Carlisle would be an excellent time to bring in the rain. Fortunately, the forecasters were slightly wrong, as Carlisle only had a bearable on-and-off drizzle.
We’re trying a novel way to report sales, and that’s by grouping sold units in price ranges. Some of the notable no-sales are also reviewed below. As always, click on any photos to enlarge them, and your comments are welcome, especially your thoughts on which cars were good deals.
Lot #T103, 1990 Chrysler TC by Maserati, Red with tan leather, removable hard top, 92,000 miles, V6.
Sold for $1,800.
Exterior showed no glaring defects, interior very worn. The collector world does not want these. If you bought it, you could tell your friends you bought a “Maserati” for under 2 grand. Be thankful they didn’t name it The Lido.
Lot #T104, 1978 Pontiac Catalina station wagon. V8, automatic. Bland blue in and out. Shows a believable 74,539 miles. Worn, but not worn out.
Sold for $1,900.
With styling as bland as could be, and colors which do nothing to overcome that, this was still a steal for any fans of GM long-roofs. Looked like it had lots of life left.
Lot #F311, 1999 Mercedes-Benz SLK 2-door retractable hardtop-convertible, silver, black interior, V6, automatic, 147,000 miles.
Sold for $3,300.
So cheap, you could drive it for a year, and once something big broke, just throw it away.
Lot #T111, 1974 Buick Riviera, gold metallic paint. Interior once was beige; someone thought it a good idea to install red velour seats. Mileage reads 74,539, could be real.
Sold for $3,300.
First year Riv after the controversial boat-tails, now with quite a conservative look. Even at this price, this is only for the true Buick aficionado. No extra charge for the bumper sticker.
Lot #T114, 1978 Ford Granada 2-door, triple green, 22,000 original miles. Looks brand new.
Sold for $4,250.
Someone salted this one away. Among the many cars at this auction claiming low miles, this Granada was one of the few that looked the part. Even though I like green, I can’t get over that interior shade. So you bought this for under $5,000 – what do you do with it?
$5,000 TO $10,000
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.
Lot #F304, 1993 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, black on black, 6-speed manual, 48,000 miles, correct factory alloy wheels. Driver’s seat bolster appears to have been repaired. Rubber doorseals, a typical C4 wear problem, look good here.
Sold for $6,600.
A true auction bargain, perhaps because it was the 4th car across the block on Friday. The black paint looked great, and the interior, not a strong point on these, showed somewhat normal wear for the miles. Can C4 prices go any lower? This is a car you could daily-drive for 3 seasons a year and simply not worry about values. Well bought.
Lot #T141, 1989 Porsche 944 coupe, white, blue leather interior, sunroof. Phone dial wheels, stick shift, 68,000 miles.
Sold for $6,700.
Bland color combo didn’t create much excitement. No obvious faults. If you want a Porsche and can’t swing $40k for a 911, here’s your entry point.
Lot #T137, 1964 Studebaker GT Hawk, brown metallic, tan vinyl interior, buckets. 289 V8, automatic on the floor. Driver’s door won’t shut. Repaint OK with some overspray, some orange peel. Instrument cluster dirty and worn. Full wheel covers, whitewall tires. Hood fit off on both sides. 22,175 is odometer reading, likely on second trip around.
Sold for $6,750.
One of the bargains of the auction, IF you wanted a Studebaker. (My book shows $15k for a #3 condition car.) Color may have been a turn-off, but I liked it. (My Catalog of American Car ID Numbers 1960-69 lists a Bermuda Brown Metallic as a factory paint choice for 1964 Studebakers.) Even with its minor faults, this is a unique, fun 2-door which can be improved without getting upside down.
Lot #T119, 1965 VW Beetle 2-door sedan. Sand color, black vinyl seats, grey carpet. Correct VW wheel covers, blackwall tires. What few shiny bits are on the outside look OK. Odometer reads 88,848, sign on car claims those are original miles.
Sold for $7,200.
Among the half-dozen Beetles here, this was one which a) wasn’t modified and b) wasn’t rusted out. Sold for below book. Just don’t take it on the highway – a Touareg might not see you and will run you over.
Lot #T117, 1970 MGB roadster, British Racing Green, tan seats, painted wire wheels, black top. 66,655 on odometer could be first time around. Overall, a good-looking B.
Sold for $7,500.
MGB prices have risen lately; even the later rubber-bumper cars command values in the high-four figures. If there were no glaring faults, this was a bit of a bargain for a chrome bumper car.
Lot #F344, 1965 Ford Mustang 2-door hardtop, white, red interior. Six-cylinder, 3-speed manual, center console, aftermarket AC. Correct Mustang full wheel covers, white walls, odometer reads 89,000. Body gaps all look good. AM radio.
Sold for $8,000.
I was drawn to this car for its honesty. While an obvious respray, it was done in the original color, based on a look at the door jambs (which were obviously not repainted). The color combo was great. Both doors shut with a solidity normally not found on old Mustangs. This was potentially a mostly-original car that’s never been taken apart. At this price, this was the perfect entry-level hobby car for someone who claims that the market has priced them out. Or, just drop a 289 in it.
Lot #T125, 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix, red paint, black interior. Full wheel covers, whitewall tires. Windshield sign claims 389 4-barrell, buckets, console, A/C, power windows and seats. No further examination done.
Sold for $8,500.
An iconic GM personal luxury coupe, for the price of a used Kia. Maybe the market for these ‘60s full-size sleds is drying up. Get yours now.
Lot #F309, 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix coupe, gold, black vinyl roof, gold interior. Raised white-letter tires are out of place on 8-lug wheels. Driver’s seat and door armrest show significant wear. 400 c.i. V8, automatic, buckets, center console. Door jambs show rustproofing plugs which may have helped its survival. Chrome looks OK, sheet metal is straight; car has good bones. 03873 is odometer, presumption is that car has 103k on it.
Sold for $8,500.
Here’s an example of a car which, if you were a phone or Internet bidder, could bite you in the tail, and it would hurt. This car looked, and was, solid and straight on the outside. The repaint was decent quality, and the vinyl roof was still attached at all four corners. When you opened the door, the contrast between the “gold” upholstery and “gold” paint was the visual equivalent of nails on a blackboard. An examination of the door jambs revealed the truth: the repaint was in a different, and decidedly incorrect, shade of gold. On a phone screen, you might not catch the difference. The sale price might just leave enough room for a respray.
Lot #T164.1, 2002 Jaguar XK8 convertible, dark blue, black top, blue interior, 32,014 original miles. Paint shows some slight swirl marks, driver’s seat has slight bolster wear. Jaguar alloys with blackwall tires. Interior clean and attractive. Top is cloth with glass rear window, again looks new. Looked incredible under the tent lights.
Sold for $9,600.
This was one babied Jaguar. The dark colors do not work for me on a convertible, but these XK8’s continue to be auction bargains. AND, no drooping headliner to worry about.
$10,000 TO $15,000
Lot #F336, 1971 Ford Mustang fastback, Grabber Blue, modified 351 V8, may not be original motor. 4-speed. Sign says upholstery is “custom”. Looks like a Mach 1, but it’s not. Consigner labeled car as “barn find”, whatever that means here.
Sold for $11,100.
I did not inspect this car, but even if it’s a fakey-doo, it seemed to be priced fairly. These large Mustangs are not to everyone’s taste, but if you like this full-size styling, this was an affordable way to get into one.
Lot #T147, 1948 Willys Jeepster, 2-door roadster, yellow, black top, red & black interior. 4-cylinder, stick shift.
Sold for $11,500.
Cheeky. Everything “Jeep” is hot (or at least lukewarm) these days. I test drove one 25 years ago when the ask was $3,500. The drive was not reassuring. But the Jeep people I know don’t care. This one sold under book, so we’ll call it well-bought.
Lot #T164, 1988 Ford Mustang GT convertible, 5.0 V8, 4-speed manual on floor. Dark red, red stripe, white top, red plaid cloth interior. Ford alloy wheels with blackwall tires. 41,137 miles on odometer looks believable. Luggage rack on rear deck, convertible top shows no flaws. A nice ’80s look.
NOT SOLD at high bid of $6,900.
This was a clean and unmolested Mustang. The interior was especially attractive in its red plaid cloth, and showed no signs of wear at all. Bid was light by several grand.
Lot #T166.1, 1956 Ford Thunderbird convertible, Peacock Blue, black soft top, blue and white interior, automatic. Wire wheels with wide whites. Website states that hardtop is included. Looks recently restored to a high standard.
NOT SOLD at high bid of $35,000.
Cosmetically, this car was stunning. I usually prefer the ‘55s (without the Continental spare) or the slightly restyled ‘57s, but this car had lots of eyeball appeal. Two-seat T-Bird values are all over the place. The top bid was a little light, but not by much in this market.
Lot #F337, 1989 Ferrari 348 TB 2-door, red, black leather interior, 5-speed manual in gated shifter. Outside unmarked. V8 mounted longitudinally making service much more expensive (engine out timing belt change). Odo is 6-digit affair, reads 026909.
NOT SOLD at high bid of $57,000.
From my experience, it’s rare to see any Ferraris at a Carlisle auction. The Fall 2016 edition featured four of Enzo’s finest. Given the stratospheric rise in prices of Ferraris from the 1950s and ‘60s, everyone else who owns a later car thinks it’s worth a million. This 348 is a prime example. My book shows a top (#2 condition) value of $42,000. If that $57k bid were real, the owner should have cut it loose.
Lot #F358.1, 1973 Jaguar E-Type 2+2 coupe, V12, automatic, sable brown, tan interior. Chrome wire wheels, whitewall tires. Exterior bright trim is dull. Some paint defects in rear quarters.
NOT SOLD at high bid of $26,000.
See Ferrari 348 comments above – much the same applies to the Jaguar XKE market. These Series 3 cars, with their modified mouths, fender flares, and extended wheelbases, are not the first choice among those who want an E-Type. But with Series 1 prices approaching quarter-million for the nicest roadsters, the rising tide has lifted these boats too. On this car, some paint problems, a bland color, and the automatic may have held back the bidding. Oh, and the top doesn’t go down.
Lot #F373, 1979 Ferrari 308GTS, red, cream interior. V8, 5-speed manual in gated shifter. Ferrari alloy wheels are very dull, and ruin what is otherwise a nice exterior. Reported to be a Euro-spec car with 48,000 km (30,000 miles).
NOT SOLD at high bid of $65,500.
These Magnum P.I. cars couldn’t be given away five years ago; but the market has woken up to these as entry-level Ferraris, if there is such a thing. This one was OK – the dirty wheels were the biggest letdown. Some folks prefer the later fuel-injected and 4-valve cars (this one has Webers). The price was about where 308s are selling today, but this owner wants more. Not sure where he’s going to get it.
Lot #F363, 1967 Jaguar S-Type four-door sedan, 3.8L straight-six, automatic on column. One repaint in original white, red leather interior, chrome wire wheels, whitewall tires. Odometer shows 53,863 miles, consignor claims that’s original. Sign claims previous owner had car for 48 years. Wires are a little rusty. Dual gas tanks, “switch-over” switch on dash is taped, so only one tank working. Interior of leather, wool and burled walnut is to die for.
NOT SOLD at high bid of $28,000.
This car broke my heart. Once I sat in this car, I didn’t want to get out. While the outside showed a decent repaint in its original color, the interior looked (and smelled) all original. The combination of the leather seats, wool headliner and carpet, and walnut trim was intoxicating. One charming interior detail was a pull-out tray below the center-dash switches.
My book showed this car at $14k for a #3 condition car. I prayed that the audience would ignore it and that I could steal it for $10k. And here comes the heartbreak: the Jag had to be towed across the auction block (the only car in two days of attendance that needed such assist). I spoke to the owner: the ignition key was spinning in its cylinder, so, no crank. Then, to my shock, the audience bid this car to $28,000! What do they care that it won’t start! But did it sell at this number? No! The owner wanted more for this non-runner. I’m going back to German cars: What did that SLK sell for again?
Mecum Auctions came back to Harrisburg PA for the third consecutive year, and held its auction event at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex on July 21-23, 2016. Your correspondent was in attendance, also for the third year running, and while external appearances were roughly the same, the men and women of Mecum have been hard at work on incremental improvements.
Two years ago, parking was confined to off-site lots which required shuttle buses to usher attendees back and forth. Food was only available from counter service inside the building, with limited menu choices. Signage everywhere was poor, leaving many to wander and wonder which way to turn.
This year, ample parking was available within the Complex parking lot itself, allowing one to be inside within minutes. Food trucks lined the back parking lot, offering the traditional burgers and chicken, plus crab cakes, po’ boys, pizza, and Greek gyros. Not only were large signs posted everywhere; upon entry, all who paid admission (NOT just bidders) were handed run sheets, maps, and daily programs. The improvements were palpable, and it reinforced the juggernaut that Mecum has become in the collector car auction business.
The quality of the consignments seemed rather consistent each of the three years, although this year, there were fewer of the vehicles that light my fire (original and/or unrestored American cars, and European sporty cars). The field was heavy with hot rods and resto-mods, and of course, the always-expected Mustangs, Camaros, and Corvettes (as my friend Larry said of them, “the backbone of the hobby”). The latter three models easily comprised about 20% of the total offerings.
Sitting through two complete days of across-the-block auction action, the room was almost constantly abuzz. Real bidders were bidding, and most cars generated a high level of excitement. When that seemed to wane, Mecum seemingly just turned up the volume on the already-blaring PA system to make sure you were awake.
Sell-through rate appeared strong (SWAG: 70%), helped by Dana himself arm-twisting owners on the spot to drop their reserves and close the deal. Are some prices off their highs of one to two years ago? Yes. Is everything selling at distress-sale levels? Absolutely not. To those who think that the collector-car hobby is in a slump, I hold up Mecum Harrisburg 2016 as Exhibit #1 that it is not. And if it was slumping, it has bounced back with a vengeance.
Below, in lot number order, are my thoughts on an varied group of cars and trucks which were interesting to me. You, no doubt, would have chosen 14 different vehicles to profile. Let me know which of these, if any, you would have bought for the price.
LOT T41, 1977 MERCEDES BENZ 450-SL
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.
T114.1, 1985 BUICK RIVIERA
Condition estimate: 4
SOLD for $2,000
The scene on the auction block was something I’d never witnessed before. As the car came up, “auctioneer A” could not get a single $1,000 opening bid for it. He asked, begged, cajoled, screamed, and pleaded, all in vain. There was a long pause, and (this was the novel part) Jimmy Landis, Mecum’s well-known town crier, grabbed the microphone and said “let me try”! But still no bids. Jimmy turned to the owner, and into the microphone, said “sir, nobody wants your car!” Finally, someone in the crowd, recognizing that they could buy a running, driving, V8-powered American automobile for cheap, bid $1,000, then $1,500, then $2,000, at which point Jimmy screamed SOLD!!! This entire process took the better part of 10 minutes.
We checked out the car later. The sides were laser-straight, but the black paint on the roof was a little sketchy. The interior was not trashed, and it all seemed to be there. Someone got a driver for very little money.
T136, 1972 GMC PICKUP TRUCK
Condition estimate: 3-
SOLD for $12,500
There were a large number of GM pickups from this generation (’67-’72) at the auction, most of which were either restored to #1 condition or were rodded. This was one of the few that appeared to be original and unrestored, and the truck had an honest vibe to it. The price seemed to favor the buyer; a few thousand more would not have surprised.
T140, 2002 JAGUAR XK8 COUPE
Condition estimate: 3-
SOLD for $7,000
Jaguar XK8 convertibles outsold their coupe counterparts 10 to 1. Coupes are therefore thin on the ground, and it was nice to see one. However, as I sat in the driver’s seat, “crumbs” appeared on my shirt. Looking up, I saw…. that the car had no headliner. This selling price (no reserve) seems fair, but don’t forget to factor in the parts and labor for a headliner.
T142, 1993 CHEVROLET CORVETTE COUPE
Condition estimate: 2
SOLD for $13,500
Green over tan is popular on MGs and Jags, but not to everyone’s taste on America’s Sports Car. The car was clean and purportedly very low miles. Price was a bit higher compared to what we saw at Carlisle just 3 months ago; are C4s on the way up?
T154, 1984 PORSCHE 944
Condition estimate: 2
NOT SOLD AT $15,000 HIGH BID
As Porsche 911 prices climb beyond a reasonable level for the average collector, other Porsches gain interest. Several years ago, there was no such thing as a five-figure 944. This car, from the model’s third year of production, was highly optioned, and in an attractive and rare color. But it’s the later 944s which are getting bucks in the mid-teens. This car should have sold at this number.
T172, 1995 JAGUAR XJS COUPE
Condition estimate: 2
NOT SOLD AT $10,000 HIGH BID
The 1991 redesign of the XJS actually improved its looks, at which time, the introduction of a 6-cylinder engine and a full convertible meant most were built that way. That makes this late 12-cylinder coupe rare, but as we know, rare does not always equal valuable. The bid price seemed close enough to me, but not to the owner. One would guess we were no more than a few grand away from the reserve.
T263, 1968 CHRYSLER IMPERIAL
Condition estimate: 3-
NOT SOLD AT $7,000 HIGH BID
“I got me a Chrysler it’s as big as a whale” sang the B-52s, and it certainly applies here. This car was fascinating on many levels: its size, originality, color scheme, and details like a shrouded dash with hide-away radio panel. This car was American late ‘60s luxury at its finest (if only it fit in my garage). A weekend spent detailing the land yacht (especially underhood) might have garnered a sale price a thousand or two more than the high bid.
F25, 1959 AUSTIN-HEALEY SPRITE
Condition estimate: 4
NOT SOLD AT $13,000 HIGH BID
All my friends know that I like small cars, and I’ve always been smitten with Bug-eyes. Sitting in this one, I was appalled at the complete lack of attention to detail. The overall vibe was of a car that was quickly slapped together for resale. Bug-eyes routinely trade in the $10,000-20,000 range, depending on equipment and condition. I don’t know what shocked me more: that the bidding reached $13,000, or that the owner didn’t grab the money and run.
F33, 2000 PORSCHE BOXSTER S
Condition estimate: 2-
SOLD for $12,500
The color scheme, bright yellow with a BLUE cloth top and black interior, turned me off, as did the automatic transmission. There are too many other choices among used Boxsters to rate this as anything but on the expensive side for a late model play toy.
F38.1, 2002 JAGUAR XKR COUPE
Condition estimate: 3
NOT SOLD AT $8,000 HIGH BID
The XKR is the supercharged version, and this car (complete with headliner) deserved more. The miles were relatively high at 85k, but a mid-teens sale price would still be fair.
F80, 1965 FIAT 600
Condition estimate: 3
SOLD FOR $13,500
I fell in love again with an Italian redhead, but compared to last year’s 2-cylinder job, this girl runs a 4-banger and is water cooled. Thinking I might steal it if bidding stayed under $10k (hey, this audience is here for ‘murican muscle), bids quickly exceeded that and was hammed sold at what is admittedly a fair price. Just don’t take it on the Turnpike.
F140, 1957 FORD THUNDERBIRD
Condition estimate: 2-
SOLD for $34,000
The windshield decal claimed that the car has had the same owner since 1969, which seemed to play in this car’s favor, as it gave the appearance of a car that has been well-kept while still being enjoyed. Two-seat T-Bird prices are all over the place; as the final year of the first-gen car in an attractive color, I call this well-bought.
LOT F215, 1957 BMW ISETTA
Condition estimate: 1-
SOLD for $25,000
There’s one at every auction – this one was in the frequently-seen two-tone combo of red and white. It appeared somewhat over-restored, save for some orange peel on the door. I spoke to the owner, who acknowledged that he might be out of his element with this audience, then confided in me that he needed to get $30k for it. I guess Dana changed his mind, because the hammer dropped $5k light.
Spring Carlisle 2016, featuring an automotive flea market and car corral, was held at the Carlisle PA Fairgrounds from April 20th through 24th, 2016. In recent years, parent company Carlisle Events has also hosted a collector-car auction during the same week. This year, the auction was run on Thursday and Friday the 21st and 22nd at the Carlisle Expo Center, one block from the fairgrounds.
About 350 cars and trucks were driven, pushed, and dragged across the block. This is said with some facetiousness, as overall, the quality of the consignments was quite good. The few rats were obvious, and a cursory inspection of any of the vehicles revealed their true nature.
Overall highlights included the aforementioned strong condition of most of the entries, sufficient seating for bidders and spectators, a well-ventilated and well-lit indoor auction area, and plenty of available food and drink (including the hard stuff, which helps to lubricate your bidding arm).
On the downside, the Carlisle crew was lax in getting run sheets for Thursday printed when promised. During a phone call made earlier in the week, a staffer stated that run sheets would be ready at 8 a.m. Thursday morning. However, upon my arrival at 9, they were not out yet. Repeated trips to the windows were met with promises that they would have them “within the hour”. They finally made it out at 12:40 p.m, a little more than one hour before the auction’s start. At least Friday’s run sheets were out at 10 a.m.
Carlisle Events also seems to allow consignments to be added on the day of the auction; making matters worse, these vehicles in some cases do not show up on the grounds until hours before they are scheduled to cross the block. Prospective bidders have little chance to inspect the goods, and sellers are simply hurting themselves.
The auction business is still new to the folks who work for Carlisle Events, and while everyone seems to be trying very hard, the production has an amateurish, mom-and-pop feel to it. However, the crowds were there, cars changed hands, and as long as they keep trying, they should get better at this.
Following is a sample of the vehicles which crossed the block. CPI (Cars of Particular Interest) values are from the March-April 2016 price guide, value range is good-to-excellent, with amounts rounded to the nearest thousand. Reserve is shown on no-sale cars if the block announced it.
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!
T106 1993 Chevy Corvette coupe, VIN 1G1YY23P2P5107900, LT1 350, 6-speed manual, mileage is 91000, red, smoke top, red interior, paint looks original, nose is unchipped, Corvette alloys are clean, one touch-up on driver’s door edge, typical wear to C4 window seals, red on red is garish, but driver’s seat shows little wear. If you like red, this was your car. This did not look like a car with 90k on it, and there was little to fault. There were at least 6 C4s among about 30 Corvettes at this auction, and in retrospect, this appears to be one of the best deals of the week.
HIGH BID: $7,600, SOLD!
F479 1993 Chevy Corvette coupe, 5.7 V8, 40th anniversary edition, 6-speed manual, mileage unknown. Teal color is very ‘90s, black leather interior gives dark ambience. Corvette alloys, some chips in nose. 40th anniversary emblems in front fenders. Drivers door window rubber worn out. Driver’s seat bolster worn. Body color roof panel. This was the last car to cross the auction block, at 9:30 Friday night. The crowd had dwindled to less than half of it peak. They were close, but couldn’t get it done.
HIGH BID: $6,700, NOT SOLD
T138 1965 Dodge Monaco, VIN D456138536, 2-door hardtop, 66,000 original miles, 383 4-barrel, automatic, dark burgundy, white vinyl top, burgundy interior. Dent in front of hood is heartbreaking, given how clean and straight remainder of car is. Tires appear one size too small. Car is stunning in person for its originality. Interior is a knockout – center console, buckets, gauges, cane inserts on door panels and seat backs. Glass good, doors shut OK. This was a highlight of the auction, both for its rarity and its originality. Alas, if bidders want a Mopar, they want a hemi, and the reserve was not met.
HIGH BID: $8,700, NOT SOLD
F330 1977 Fiat 124 spider, 124CS10120860, blue metallic, black top, black vinyl interior, Fiat alloy wheels. No visible rust, paint looks OK if a bit thick in places, not sure that this shade of blue is a factory Fiat color. Interior decent at first glance; however, steering wheel cracked. Gauges and seats show no obvious problems. With a new Fiat 124 spider due to hit dealerships in the fall, some have speculated that the old Fiats will start to move up the price ladder. The audience here did not agree.
HIGH BID: $4,250, NOT SOLD
F355 1965 Ford Mustang convertible, dark blue, white top, blue interior. VIN 5F08C776691. 289 V8, 3-speed manual, mileage reads 82,548, claimed to be original miles. Ford styled steel wheels, clean underhood, chrome valve covers and open air cleaner. No Power steering, brakes, or AC. Paint defects in LF fender and door, checked and cracked, possibly older paint job that is letting go. Vinyl top OK but dirty. Wood wheel, center console. Interior presentable overall. JVC cassette unit in dash. Plastic rear window OK. Chrome is so-so, with some pitting. Just a driver, but a V8 drop-top driver. Car has many needs, but only if you’re trying to collect trophies. If you’re looking for cruise night fun, this was a great entry into the hobby, and with a first-gen Mustang V8 convertible to boot.
HIGH BID: $17,500 SOLD!
F409 1976 Mercedes Benz 450SL, silver, red interior, hardtop, no sign of soft top. Six-digit odometer reads 043998. Very nice shape outside, looks all original and well kept. Blackwalls on MB alloys. Paint looks good. Red interior striking, very little wear which supports mileage claim. Door panels OK. FMVSS label confirms US spec car, mfd. 9/76. Doors shut like bank vaults. Overall very clean and striking looking car. With a half-dozen of these 107-model SLs here, this one stood out. The result was some of the more spirited bidding of the auction.
HIGH BID: $17,750, SOLD!
T117 1980 Mercedes Benz 450 SL, VIN 10704412065489, mileage is 129,734. New tires, soft top included, hard top in place. Gold with dark brown interior. Aftermarket lights in front plate look tacky, front fog lights, blackwalls on MB alloys, car is dirty overall. Interior: both seats show leather which is cracked and dried, carpet faded from brown to green. Buyers will step up for high mileage cars which are clean; they will shy away from high mileage cars which are not. There are too many SLs on the market at any time to make this one worth more than what was bid.
HIGH BID: $5,000, NOT SOLD
T198 1988 Nissan 300ZX turbo, VIN JN1CZ14S0JX203504, white, grey and black interior. Six-digit odometer reads 098558. Shiro special edition , 5-speed manual, Recaro seats. Pearl white paint with matching wheels scream ‘80s disco. Minor wear on driver’s seat bolster. Interior looks OK, has T-tops. Black rear spoiler faded to light grey. These Shiro cars, of which a little over a thousand were made, play to a very narrow audience. CPI does not call out a separate price for the Shiro package. Car was seen the next day across the street in the Car Corral, with an ask of $12,900, but on the block, it was said that “10” would get it done. Caveat Emptor.
HIGH BID: $8,000, NOT SOLD
T118 1986 Pontiac Trans Am, VIN 1G2FW87F4FN228262, 5.0 V8 fuel injected, rare Recaro seats, T-tops, white, gold trim, black/tan/grey interior. Odometer reads 35,263, claimed to be original. Paint OK, could use buff out, nose unmarked. Screaming chicken reduced to Cornish hen on hood, B-pillars, and rear valence. Interior condition does support miles, as seats show no wear at all. No signs of wear on wheel, shifter, pedals. A decent looking Trans-Am, and the low miles and Recaro seats make it worth a little more than what was bid.
HIGH BID: $9,500, NOT SOLD
F332 1984 Porsche 944 WP0AA0944EN465320, red, tan interior, 2.5L inline 4, 5 speed, sport seats, sunroof, black and silver Porsche alloys. Odometer reads 61,778, might be on first go-round. Paint looks thick in places, but repaint shows well, with no overspray. Body color side rub strips, some small touch ups. Wheels are slightly marked up. Interior not torn, but dirty, leather dry. Aftermarket Blaupunkt sound system. Porsche floor mats. There are a million (OK, a few less) 924-944 cars for sale at any time, with conditions running the gamut. This car was straight-looking, and if the mileage is accurate, represented a very good buy at the sale price.
HIGH BID: $4,200, SOLD!
T160 1969 VW Karmann Ghia coupe, 4-speed, odometer reads 63,989, VIN 149863189, dark red, sign says “one repaint on rust free car”, black interior. Rear side reflectors, no front reflectors. Wide white wall tires look out of place on late ‘60s car. Nose unbent. Black wipers look out of place, all outside stainless trim is good. Paint looks fresh. Interior smells musty, cracked dash fixed with tape, seat upholstery OK. Carpet shot. FMVSS label confirms US spec car. Overall, car appears original except for repaint. Chrome on bumpers very thin, starting to peel and pit. These sporty VWs used to be all over; the tin worm ate most of the northeast ones, so there was plenty of interest in this honest-looking example, which sold at a number fair to buyer and seller.
HIGH BID: $10,750 SOLD!
T147, 1940 Ford Coupe: This Ford looked completely stock on the outside, but had an early ‘50s Cadillac V8 under the hood. It was a no-sale at a high bid of $32,500.
T175, 1977 Pontiac Firebird “Skybird”: a rare factory option package, the blue-on-blue is not for everyone, but it is different. Sold at $9,750.
T183, 1962 Buick Invicta convertible: striking in off-white with a two-tone tan and beige interior, this was one of the few auctions cars almost worthy of a #1 condition rating. Sold for $25,500. Have the only one at the next Cars & Coffee.
F312, 1966 Ford Mustang convertible: a late entry, this car’s two-tone pony interior was striking, but possibly was the only good thing about it. Quickie repaint in blah beige, filthy underhood, it was bid to $17,500 and not sold. Owner should have cut it loose (see lot F355 above).
F314, 1989 Porsche 944: With 81,000 miles, an automatic, and rock-hard leather seats, it is amazing that this car sold for $6,100, or almost $2,000 more than lot F332.
F319, 1974 MGB: Cosmetically, this car was almost perfect. However, we observed the Carlisle staff struggle to get it running on Thursday. Friday morning, we struck up a conversation with the owner while he “tuned it up”. He told us he had just bought it (to flip it), but the spark plugs were hand-tight, and the distributor hold-down was completely loose, so at idle, the engine vibration constantly changed the timing. It did drive OK across the block, where it sold for $13,100.
F434, 1960 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud: My photo does not do justice to the poor paint on this automobile. A literal barn find, one observer was overhead to mutter “the most expensive car in the world is a cheap Rolls Royce”. Bidding shocked me when it sailed past $5,000 to end at $8,900.
F469, 1994 Jaguar XJS V12 convertible: The colors were right, as it’s hard to argue with BRG and saddle, but this car gave off a vibe of neglect. If you’re not afraid of the big 12, perhaps you could do worse than the successful bidder who took this home for $8,500.
G. Potter King (GPK) again hosted its winter edition car show in the Atlantic City Convention Center during the last weekend of February. The event features an auction, a car corral, and a swap meet, all of which comfortably fit inside the cavernous hall. One of the main attractions of this show is that it is mostly impervious to the weather, and so gives us hobbyists a chance to relieve our cabin fever.
This year, similar to what we observed in 2015, the number of consignments seemed to continue to be on the decrease. The car corral in particular had enough empty space for an additional 20 or 25 cars. The auction side of the building was a bit more occupied, yet still could have held a few more cars.
For the third time in the last 5 years, GPK rearranged the auction stage and seating. This time, the flow of cars on and off the block seemed better integrated, and seating for non-bidders (like me) was more readily available. One downside to the new set-up was the lack of airflow. Non-catalyzed vehicles emitting exhaust fumes in an enclosed space eventually gets to you. There needs to be a way to move more fresh air through the grandstands.
Having attended auctions hosted by Mecum, RM, Bonhams, Auctions America, and Carlisle, it’s frustrating to see that GPK still could improve their auction block screen shots. This year, they took a step in the right direction by superimposing the lot number, vehicle year and make, and current bid onto the TV image. But the wording was not always easy to read, and often, the bidding on screen far lagged the real-time bidding. Mr. King, a suggestion: watch Mecum to see how it’s done.
The show was helped by a decent weekend of dry and sunny weather in southern New Jersey. There were 100 or more early birds who were waiting for the doors to open at 9 a.m. Foot traffic was plenty strong, and the bidders area directly in front of the auction stand was almost filled to capacity. Nevertheless, the sell-through rate, or, the percentage of cars actually meeting reserve and moving to new owners, appeared to hover around 50-60%. This is due to some combination of unrealistic reserves, poor quality offerings, or not the right bidders in the room.
It says a lot about an auction company which can attract quality consignments, get sellers to agree to reasonable reserves, and then draw hungry bidders into the process. It may look easy from the outside, but it’s not. The Arizona auctions in January indicated some slight softening of the market, which didn’t help here. But we did see some cars change hands. Below are details on a random sampling of cars which caught our interest from both the auction and the car corral. (“CPI” values are from the author’s copy of the Jan.-Feb. 2016 edition of the classic car price guide Cars of Particular Interest.)
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.
Lot #1712, 1986 Corvette coupe, silver/dark grey, red interior, automatic. Mileage is 109,073. Looks just OK on outside, red interior is very worn. Car offered at no reserve, hammer price was $3,400. We rate it a #4 car, and CPI rates a #4 car at $4,475. If it runs, passes state emissions, and doesn’t leak copious amounts of fluid, someone who just wants to have fun may have gotten a very good deal. As one buddy put it, “drive it for 10 years, then throw it away”.
Lot #1782, 1974 Jaguar E-type convertible, Series III with V12 engine, manual transmission, A/C, dark red with biscuit top and interior. Last year for the E-type. Owner claims 16,000 original miles, and also claims it was thoroughly restored. We didn’t see this one up close, but it did appear to be near a #2 condition car. CPI values a #2 car at $87,750, and this hammered sold at $85,000, so someone was willing to pay full boat for it.
Lot #1716, 1990 Suzuki “Every” mini-mini van. Right hand drive, 3-cylinder, 5-speed, factory air, 2,800 original miles. Sliding doors, 2 rows of seats, roomy looking interior. Tall, narrow box on 4 wheels. Everyone was all over this little thing, but it was declared no-sale at a reported high bid of $8,250. We hope it sells just so you can claim to be the only person in your state with one.
Lot #1783, 1965 Austin-Healey Mark III, inline 6, light blue over white paint, with dark blue leather interior. Chrome wire wheels, blackwall tires. Odometer reads 77,000. Car looks very clean overall, no blemishes outside or inside, but appears that restoration may have been done a few years ago. CPI rates a #3 car at $52,500 and a #2 car at $100,000, so that’s a huge spread, mostly defined by condition as there were few options. This one sold for $58,000 which was fair to buyer and seller.
Lot #1784, 1939 Packard, 4 door convertible sedan, black, off-white convertible top, dark red interior. Odometer reads 50,166. Whitewall tires, Packard hub caps, everything looks stock. The car gives off the vibe of a vehicle that was restored 20-30 years ago. It’s all there, and may run out well, but everything has the look and feel of a 20-year-old used car. Rare and unusual body style not seen much, where the B-pillar is removable for a full-open look when the top is down. Car hammered sold for $38,000, which may seem rich, but A) it’s a Packard, and B) try to find another convertible sedan in that price range. Join AACA and go on a tour.
Lot #1755, 1956 BMW Isetta, bubble-window coupe, red/white, white sunroof, white vinyl interior. Restored to an acceptable cosmetic standard. Like most Isettas, interior not done to original style. Car has original ISO-designed side windows, as well as coveted “Z-molding” on the side. Every auction seems to have at least one Isetta. This one had shiny paint but little else to rave about. In the opinion of this former Isetta owner, if you plan to drive the thing, get the sliding-window model, as airflow through these tiny pivoting triangular windows is next to non-existent. CPI rates a #3 Isetta (which this one barely was) as worth $30,000. The car was sold for $33,500, so someone paid a slight premium for 13-horsepower worth of cute.
CAR CORRAL ENTRIES
1986 Corvette coupe, red, tan interior, automatic, claimed to have 23,000 original miles. Asking $13,900. Car was fairly clean yet obviously used. Rear panel has been resprayed, and that red does not match rest of car. Lots of swirl marks in paint. Car is in CPI between $8,000 (#3) and $14,700 (#2), and this car just didn’t look like a 23,000 mile car. $10,000 would be all the money, however, there are lots of C4 Corvettes for sale all the time, many of them under $10k .
1958 Edsel Pacer convertible, unusual off-white/pale yellow exterior, black interior. Sign claims 35,000 miles, yet car looks restored, not preserved. Very straight overall, interior very nice, engine compartment especially well-done. The entire car does pop, but so does the asking price of $100,000. That is not a typo. CPI values a #2 car (which this is) at $66,000. Even if you pay a premium for the low miles, what do you do with it? Every mile you drive it will depreciate it.
1963 Mercedes Benz 190 SL, dark silver, black convertible top, red interior, narrow whitewall tires, MB hub caps in red, cosmetically very pretty car. No asking price displayed. (Why would you put a car in the car corral and not show a price?) All 190s have 4-cylinder engines and manual gearboxes. Having never driven one, I’ve read that the driving experience is nothing special. Up until about 2 years ago, these languished in the $30k-40k range. Suddenly, as 300SL Gullwings and Roadsters regularly broke through a million, the baby brother 190 came along for the ride. Prices broke $100,000 and seemed headed to $200,000. Now that there’s been a slight cooling, more level-headed thinking has pushed these values back into the high-fives. Whatever he’s asking, I wish him luck.
1980 MGB convertible, odometer reads 45,822 miles, odometer may have turned over once. White with black interior, stick shift with overdrive switch in shift knob, MG-style mag wheels, trunk-mounted luggage rack. Engine compartment a bit of a mess. Last year for the MGB in this market. This car might be unrestored, as it’s all there but nothing is tidy. We would rate this car as a #3- or even a #4. CPI puts a #4 car at $4,150 and a #3 car at $8,000. The ask here is $8,995. Offer $6,000 if a rubber-bumper MGB is on your bucket list and you’re feeling generous.