2012 Bonhams Auction: Preserving the Automobile

I can’t put my finger on exactly when I started to notice the change. As far as I could remember, the old car hobby had always treasured restored cars, the more beautifully restored, the better. Trophies were awarded for the cars which had the most perfectly polished paint, the most mirror-like metal, the most crease-free upholstery. I’d see cars with paint that far exceeded any factory spray job. Formerly polished parts now wore triple-plated chrome. Cars entered into judged shows lost points for a scuff on a sidewall or a foot mark on a floor mat. It took many years of hobby participation to come to grips with the reality that for some owners, their immaculately restored cars would never be driven on the road, as that would cause (horrors!) fuel stains on the carbs, heat stains on the exhaust, grass stains on the tires, and points deducted on the judging sheet.

Some of the images of these cars are embedded in my brain. There was the line of two-seat T-Birds, each with identical yellow ink stamps in the exact same locations in their engine compartments. There was the E-Type roadster, top up, whose owner told me that the top has never been down, and never will be, as that might crease the plastic rear window. Then there was the owner of the perfect Mach I Mustang who told me the totality of the car’s mileage since restoration has been “driven onto the trailer, and driven off the trailer”. It got to the point where AACA issued a statement that over restored cars would be no more likely to win trophies than cars restored “just” to factory standards.

But the hobby started to change, and it was subtle at first. Some non-restored original cars were winning prizes formerly reserved for the over restored beauties. Values of well-kept originals began to rise and keep pace with fresh restorations. Some pundits came up with a few key phrases like, “a car is original only once”, and “anyone with a checkbook can restore a car, but it takes perseverance to keep a car original”. The word “patina” entered the hobby’s lexicon, and the condition itself was embraced, indeed, celebrated. An all-original car with dull paint, tattered carpets, and a greasy engine compartment could seriously compete with a restored version of the same make and model, and depending on judging criteria, might beat it. This was, as I called it at the time, the hobby taking a hard right turn in valuing originality over restoration.

It was 10 years ago, in October 2012, that Bonhams, the esteemed auction house, teamed up with the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia PA, to present the first of what they billed as “Preserving the Automobile … the first-ever auction to promote the concept of preservation of collector cars.” Bonhams was attaching itself to a theme that Dr. Fred Simeone himself had practiced with his own collection and would eventually author a book about, which is the notion of preserving vehicles in much the same way that one preserves fine art and historic furniture. All the cars on auction on that 8th day of October were unrestored. To be fair, not all of them were what one would call “preserved”; in fact, a few of them needed a good deal of restoration or might even be of value only as parts cars. But Bonhams and the Simeone Foundation together where out to make a point: there was value to be recognized in offering lots without the shiny bits, in the hopes that others would agree with the efforts to keep the cars as original as possible.

I attended the auction that day and clearly recall thinking that there were some bargains to be had, presuming that the sold cars ran and drove (unlike most other auctions, lots were not driven across the block during the bidding process). Some of these values look even more remarkable with 10 years’ hindsight. Since this inaugural auction in 2012, Bonhams has returned to the Simeone location in most succeeding years with the same theme. In this sometimes over-hyped hobby, it is refreshing to see the efforts made by these two organizations to support and encourage preservation as an important component of it.

 

Sold lots are listed in ascending price order.

 

Lot 415, 1946 Lincoln Model 66H Sedan, sold for $2,530 with buyer’s premium. One of the least expensive lots at this auction, and understandably so. Bonhams made no claim that this V-12 Lincoln 4-door started or ran, instead falling back on typical auction hyperbole like “strikingly original”, “dirty but complete” and “a lovely project for the winter months”. These late ‘40s Lincolns were not as attractive as the cars that preceded them or came after them. Still, if your starting budget was $2,500 and you wanted a project, here you go!

 

Lot 451, 1927 Buick Master Six Opera Coupe, sold for $5,520 with buyer’s premium. The description states that this is a running, driving example which is all original except for its upholstery. In 2012, interest in pre-war cars had been on a long and steady decline but has since picked up. I called this a fair deal in 2012 and it looks even better 10 years later.

 

Lot 461, Chrysler Town and Country convertible, sold for $9,200 with buyer’s premium. Calling this car “rough” is an understatement. It may have been drivable, but the woodwork alone would soak up most of the next owner’s budget like a brush dipped in shellac. On the positive side, this was the final Woodie American convertible built, with 2022 values hovering close to six figures.

Lot 445, 1970 Jaguar E-Type 2-door coupe (NOT a 2+2), sold for $15,000 with buyer’s premium. The website notes that the car had been off the road since 1990, and had been repainted once in its factory color. The paint does not show well. The description further states that the engine spins freely and “it is anticipated that the car could be made to run”. Even with those caveats, this is a deal for a Series II E-Type, which today carries a value as per my CPI guide between $40-80,000.

 

Lot 418, 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Roadster with Hard Top, sold for $17,250 with buyer’s premium. One repaint in a shade of red a little off from the factory red. Runs, but has been sitting. This was another deal in 2012 dollars that looks especially attractive today. Although I didn’t photograph it, one front fender had a dent as if an object had fallen onto it, so there was the potential for some body work in its future. Today’s values for the 230 SL are between $75k and $130k according to CPI.

 

Lot 443, 1957 Lincoln Continental Mark II with factory A/C, sold for $33,350 with buyer’s premium. These cars are rare and in my opinion, not as collectible as other ‘50s icons in part because not everyone knows about them and in part because some people know too much about them, to wit, parts are unavailable and they are notoriously expensive to restore. If this one was all there, and that appeared to be the case, this was a decent deal on a Mark II.

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

Lime Rock Sunday in the Park Classic Car Show, 2012

Every Labor Day weekend, Lime Rock Park, a racetrack set in the western Berkshires of Connecticut, hosts The Vintage Fall Festival (the name has gone through some permutations over the decades). Classic race cars of old battle it out on the tarmac on Friday, Saturday, and Monday, while on Sunday (when racing is prohibited by local ordinance), the track is repurposed to feature some of the finest classics in the Northeast.

I’ve been attending the Sunday event for years and have posted stories about my previous adventures: finding my 1967 Dodge Dart convertible here in 1991, displaying the Isetta in 2020, and attending in 2007, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. The 2012 event featured “The Race Cars of Stirling Moss” and also featured Sir Stirling himself. I managed to shake the great man’s hand and watch him present awards in the afternoon. Other than that, it was just another day at Lime Rock….

 

Sometimes the parking lot is as interesting as the show field

 

Red Italian cars are a sign that you’re in the right place:

 

Piloted by some Nuvolari guy

 

’63 Split Windows look good in any color

This little Honda drew lots of attention: make note of that redline!

More Italians, this time, some colors other than red:

 

Jaguars proudly line up

 

A gorgeous face which has inspired many

 

Sir Stirling Moss spent most of the afternoon presenting trophies and awards to deserving recipients:

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

The 2012 Philadelphia Auto Show

In January 2012, I was a little less than a year into my new job as Product Training Director for the company which operated the www.CARiD.com website. At that time, our company only sold accessories (exterior, interior, performance, lighting, audio, and wheels) for cars and trucks. The repair parts side of the business was still a few years away. When training our sales staff, my responsibilities included teaching them what was new in the industry. Rather than wait until April for the NY Auto Show, I decided to head to Philadelphia for their show, always held in the January/February timeframe.

The location was familiar to me; I had been to this show in the past as part of my work with Volvo. This time, I cajoled my wife into joining me (under the guise of “we should look for a new car for you, honey!”) and she semi-reluctantly agreed. The drive into Center City Philly was only an hour, and parking in a nearby garage was easy enough. I should not have been surprised, but I was, that the place was jammed with attendees on a Sunday afternoon.

What the Pennsylvania Convention Center lacked in glitz compared to Manhattan’s Javits Center was made up in substance. Floorspace was not consumed by rotating tables, cutaways, never-to-be concept cars, and artificial landscapes. Instead, the vehicles were neatly arrayed, close to each other but not so close that one couldn’t open and close doors and get good three-quarter views. A huge additional benefit (for me anyway) was the side show consisting of “classic cars” with no particular rhyme or reason to the collection.

Pickup trucks, normally not my main interest, were a focus because much of the accessorization sold on CARiD is for pickups. I rarely photograph Monroney labels, however, the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 pickup grabbed all my attention. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see an MSRP, after options, of $62,000! Little did I realize that ten years ago, I was witnessing the start of the trend whereby overloaded luxury-laden 4×4 pickup trucks would displace luxo-barge American and imported four-door sedans as Americans’ choice for ultimate comfort and convenience. (Visiting the build-and-price function on Chevy’s website allowed me to recreate this truck as a 2022 model, and today’s price is $75,000, if you can find one.)

Returning from the show armed with photos, I created a slide presentation for my internal training class to bring our young and inexperienced sales staff up to speed. (I didn’t bother showing them the DeSoto.) The Philadelphia Auto Show, this year in March, continues to be a viable alternative for New Jerseyans who would rather avoid the trek into the Big Apple.

 

 

What’s that wire coming out of the fuel filler? Customers in 2012 were not yet used to seeing charging ports like on this Fisker Karma, which was beautiful but ahead of its time.

The 2012 Fiat 500 was in its 3rd year of U.S. sales after returning to this market in 2010. This is the zippy Abarth version.

 

And to remind us how far it’s come, here is the previous 500

 

Subaru showed its new BRZ, which had just been introduced a month prior
The BRZ’s grandfather, the XT, was also on display

 

Here is the 2012 Lexus LFA, with an MSRP of $375,000 (take that, Silverado!). According to Wikipedia, a total of 52 units were sold in the U.S. in 2012.

 

Many of the classics on display were on loan from the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles. From the top: A Nash-Healey roadster; a 1969 Camaro Yenko; a 1956 DeSoto; and a Series III Jaguar E-Type (note the flared fenders and long doors indicating a Series III, but with retro-fitted covered headlamps).

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

The Alfa Club Visits the Simeone Museum

Last week’s post covered my first visit to the Simeone Museum, which occurred in 2011. This post features a return visit, which happened on Saturday, February 12, 2022, as the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owners’ Club organized a tour of the museum.

Each of us paid for our own admission, and once inside, Jim, a museum docent and our guide for the day, began the tour promptly at 10:30 as promised. He was extremely knowledgeable and more importantly, spoke enthusiastically about each vehicle, bringing the cars and their stories to life. Many of the cars in the Simeone Collection are singularly famous, having participated in or won racing events around the globe. As such, they are arranged by theme, typically displayed together based on the race track or racing event where they competed.

There were two other highlights for us: first, it was a Demo Day, and the museum had chosen four cars to take outside and buzz around the back lot. The weather was in our favor, as after a particularly long stretch of daytime temps barely breaking above the freezing mark, Saturday reached 60 F, albeit with a stiff breeze. I had every intention of including video of the Demo Day, however, all my attempts to capture the cars while in motion are unusable. While I am proud of some of my photographic efforts, my skills as a videographer are quite poor.

The cars that raced at LeMans

Secondly, a special exhibit of English sports cars, all of them in British Racing Green, graced the walkway just inside the entrance. One downside was the crowd: in addition to the 40+ Alfa Club members, a British car club was also on hand. This led our docent Jim to remark that in his 10 years with the museum, he had never seen it so crowded on a Saturday morning. The museum’s insistence on 100% compliance with mask wearing helped alleviate any fears one may have had regarding the close quarters.

The photos below represent just some of the museum’s highlights. I’ve tried to avoid too much repetition with last week’s post. While about 90% of the museum’s collection is the same as it has been since it opened 12 years ago, some vehicles have been added to the mix. Another change worth noting is that the Shelby Daytona Coupe, known by its chassis number (CSX2287), is the very first car admitted to the National Historic Vehicle Register, quite an achievement over and above its performance accomplishments.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Blower Bentley detail

 

Weber carbs atop a Ferrari V12

 

The ‘British Racing Green’ Collection
1934 MG PA

 

1938 Jaguar SS100

 

1950 HRG 1500

 

 

1962 Triumph TR4

 

1966 Sunbeam Tiger

 

1965 Morgan +4

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

My First Visit to the Simeone Museum, 2011

Formally known as the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, Dr. Fred Simeone founded it using the historically significant race cars that he and his father had been collecting for decades. Many of their purchases were made decades ago when old racing cars were seen as worn out and without value. The museum is further set apart from others by their “Demo Days”, during which a small selection of machines, tied together by some central theme, is taken outside and driven around the large paved lot behind the museum. While no top speed runs are attempted, the driving is as spirited as conditions allow. Dr. Simeone, the hands-on collector that he is, uses these Demo Days to grab a microphone and speak to the cars’ histories.

My first visit to The Simeone, located in an industrial area not far from Philadelphia Airport, was in 2011. It was a Demo Day, and while the exact years and makes of the vehicles driven that day were not noted, I clearly recall the thrill of seeing and hearing older cars used as intended, rather than staring at them while they silently sat. (At a subsequent visit, I chuckled and nodded my head in agreement when I heard Dr. Simeone state, “A car that is not driven is a statue!”)

Of course, during any particular visit, most cars are on display inside, as reflected in these photos from that initial visit. I’m not the biggest automobile racing fan in the world, but it is moving to read about the historic accomplishments of these cars. If you have not visited the Simeone Museum, I strongly recommend it. If it’s at all possible to get there on a Demo Day (always Saturdays), all the better.

1929 Alfa Romeo 6C

 

1950 Allard J2

 

1937 Cord 812 Supercharged

 

Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe

 

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C

 

1933 Squire Roadster

 

1936 Aston Martin LeMans

 

1966 Ford GT40 Mk. II

 

1967 Ford Mk. IV

 

 

GAUGES:

 

DEMO DAY DRIVE:
Dr. Fred Simeone addresses the crowd

 

The 3 Demo Day cars

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

AACA Hershey Meet, 2011

My photos tell the tale: the weather during Hershey week 2011 was as pleasant as October in Pennsylvania can be, as borne out by the abundant sunshine and the swarms of car enthusiasts dressed in light outerwear. By this point in time, I had been a regular attendee at what is formally known as the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Fall Nationals. My first visit to Hershey was around 1980, and I returned only sporadically over the next 20 years, as Carlisle was more to my interest. Starting around 2001, when I joined the National AACA club, Hershey became a mandatory entry on my calendar except for the one year when an out-of-town business trip forced me to miss it. The five-day event, culminating with the Saturday judged show, consists of three segments: in addition to the show are the vast flea market and the Car Corral. (The RM auction at the Hershey Lodge, while not an AACA-sanctioned event, is always timed to occur during Hershey week and is supported by AACA.)

 

 

THE CAR CORRAL

I tend to focus on the rare or unusual cars in the Car Corral, along with any which strike me as potentially good deals. This year, the most unusual of the lot was this 1953 Fiat Topolino (the owner can be forgiven for his misspelling of it as ‘Topolina’), obviously a #5 condition car, and offered at $5,500 OBO. Wikipedia reveals this to be a Model C, produced from 1949-1955, perhaps not as cute as the Models A and B, but still with enough il fascino (charm) to make it an attractive project. The “Fiat-Heuler, Frankfurt a. M.” is the German Fiat dealership in Frankfurt. Check out this beautiful restoration which sold last year on Bring a Trailer for $19,870.

 

 

I’ve said this before: if someone had bet me money in 2011 that VW Beetles would see a steady rise in values and collector interest over the next 10 years, I would have lost that bet. So with 10 years hindsight, does this look like a deal? Here’s a 1963 Bug convertible, claimed to be ‘all original’ (whatever that means for a collector car), offered at $4,300. It’s difficult to gauge condition from my two photos, but as long as there wasn’t terminal rot underneath, this one could have been cheap fun. (The closest comp I could find on Bring a Trailer was this ’60 convertible, obviously in better condition, which sold for $20,000 in Dec. 2021.)

 

I have spilled considerable digital ink extolling my exploits in my rally buddy’s Sunbeam Tiger. The Tiger’s concept was similar to the better-known Cobra: take a British sports car, toss the smaller engine, and install an American lump of a V8. In the Tiger’s case, the ‘donor’ car was the Sunbeam Alpine, factory-powered by an inline four. The Car Corral had this 1964 version, with its asking price already lowered from $3,700 to $3,400. To me, that’s an instant indication that the owner is getting anxious and is ready to listen to offers. The red paint is oxidized, and the bumpers lack luster, but I bet it was driven into and out of the Corral under its own power. Bring a Trailer has had plenty on offer. Most appear to be fully restored, and many don’t reach their reserves. They did sell this ’64 project car in 2019 for $5,300.

 

The original AMC AMX, which debuted in 1968 when I was a young teen, was a car I always found attractive. Its shortened wheelbase and deleted rear seat put it in a class above the typical pony cars of the day; I saw it as a more affordable version of that other 2-seat sports car, the Corvette. I photographed this one because I like silver over red. The price caught my eye too, compared to what you’d pay for a similar Camaro or Mustang. As it sat in the Car Corral, the price was dropping, so a deal could have been made. This one had the small 290 V8, and almost every first gen AMX on BaT is listed with the 390. My CPI value guide lists the ’68-’70 AMX as worth between $16,000 and $35,000 for a good to excellent one, so in this case, let’s hope it was bought to enjoy rather than to profit from.

 

Sometimes the more interesting cars for sale are not in the Car Corral, but are rather found scattered within the flea market. This 1940 Continental convertible was tucked among the tents and tables, with an asking price of $75,000. The 1940 model year was a stylistic high-water mark for the Ford Motor Company, and first gen Continentals had the further advantage of a 12-cylinder version of Ford’s famous flathead engine. The 1939-1948 Continentals are on the official list of Approved Full Classics from the CCCA (Classic Car Club of America), a distinction not to be taken lightly.

 

 

THE SATURDAY PARADE AND CAR SHOW

Ever since accidentally discovering that Saturday’s earliest attendees gain the additional enjoyment of watching show cars arrive under their own power, it’s been a highlight of Hershey week to set the alarm for 6, grab a bagel and coffee to go, and hunt down the best vantage point.

 

With vehicles arranged by class (typically year/make/model) it’s best to wander to where your interests lie, as the vast show field is almost impossible to completely cover in one day. Many years ago, I read this advice in a photo magazine: move closer to your subject, and when you think you’ve moved close enough, move even closer. With cars, it can sometimes be more interesting to focus on only a portion (the crowds sometimes thwart all effort to snap the entire vehicle anyway). I’ve tried that effect for several of these shots.

 

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

AACA Hershey Meet, October 2010

Continuing with my coverage of Hershey visits which preceded the birth of the blog, below are a few shots from AACA Hershey 2010. The photos show that the weather was beautiful and the turnout was significant. As I stated in the blog post for the 2009 event, my photographic coverage was not as all-encompassing yet.

Photos of cars with lot numbers on the windshields were there to be auctioned by RM at the Hershey Lodge. While I was not yet in the habit of notating auction sales results, my access to the RM Sotheby’s website has allowed me to search for and find the sale prices, which are indicated below. Since the website shows numbers “all in” with commission, I have calculated the actual hammer price by backing out the 10% buyer’s premium. It would be three more years before the Isetta was trailered to RM Hershey to be sold, which occurred in 2013.

The remainder of the shots cover the big Saturday judged event. My friend Pete showed up with “his” Alfa GT 1300 Junior, which he placed in the HPOF category. The expression on my face as I stood next to the car says it all: “Pete, someday, this will be mine!” It took him a while to come around, but the day did come, in March 2013.

 

THE RM HERSHEY AUCTION

1962 Fiat 1200 Cabriolet, sold for $33,000 (hammer price $30,000)

 

1970 Fiat 500L, sold for $15,400 (hammer price $14,000)

 

1955 Studebaker Speedster, sold for $55,000 (hammer price $50,000)

 

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, sold for $45,100 (hammer price $41,000)

 

THE SATURDAY CAR SHOW

The morning parade of cars on their way to the show field:

 

Show highlights:

C2 Corvettes

 

Jaguar XK-120

 

A British sports car lineup

 

Additional sports machines

 

Not mine yet….

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

 

 

 

My Boyhood Model Car Collection

While cleaning out my attic about eleven years ago, I came across 3 large cardboard boxes full of the 1/25-scale model cars I had built as a boy. The first model car I built was a 1940 Ford Tudor sedan, modified to resemble the stock cars I had watched race at Weissglass Speedway on Staten Island. This was right after my family moved to a new house in late 1962, so I would have been 8 or 9 years old. During the next 5 years, I built dozens of them; every time my mother took us to a department store, I convinced her to spring for a new model for me. I think they cost $2 or $3 new. The five and dime I walked past on my way to school every day sold glue and paint. The small jars of Testor’s cost 15 cents. Soon I had just about every color in the Testor rainbow.

Going through the boxes in my current-day attic, the memories came flooding back. I would sit in my bedroom and build these while my two brothers watched TV (even then I was selective about my television shows). At some point, probably from seeing an ad in a modeling magazine I’d picked up at that same 5&10 cent store, I discovered Auto World. To a ten-year-old car-crazed kid, this was heaven. The Auto World catalog sold models, parts and tools via mail order, and I quickly got hooked. My favorite tool was an electrically heated hobby knife, which brought the blade to the perfect temperature to make clean cuts in plastic. I’d cut open the doors, buy hinge kits, and my models would have functioning doors.

By the time I got to high school and its increased workload, I had outgrown the model-building hobby. Yet they remained on display in my bedroom until 1981 when my folks sold their house, at which point the models got boxed up. Although I moved five times between 1981 and 2011, the models never again came out of hiding until that day I decided to declutter the attic.

Time had not been kind to many of them. Glue had dried out, some were broken from handling or poor storage, and others had dust baked into unreachable crevices. Checking eBay, where I had been buying and selling some small-ticket items, I discovered that model cars were quite popular. Promotion on eBay requires photographs so I cleverly created a diorama, using enlarged photos of my own garage glued to poster board. The scale isn’t quite right but I did think there was some positive effect to seeing these models posed as if they were in someone’s driveway.

Buyers preferred unbuilt kits, but it looked like anything would sell at the right price. I put most of my models on eBay and set reasonable reserves. Everything sold, and my recollection is that on average, the models fetched prices between $20 and $30. The models I deemed not sale-worthy were given away to an AACA member who I knew was in the modeling hobby. I had seen some of his work and it was outstanding. I hope that he was able to put my scraps to good use.

 

Sting Ray coupe, 64?

One of my first, built stock. I remember how pleased I was with the brush-applied black paint.

 

Sting Ray convertible, ’66?

Unpainted, built as a roadster/racer using the custom pieces in the kit

 

1965 Plymouth Barracuda

Unpainted, built stock by me except for extreme rake

 

1962 Pontiac Tempest

Gifted to me by a young man who was a co-worker at my first car dealership. I recall his dad drove a Saab 95 as a daily driver in 1978.

 

62 Buick 225 convertible

Built by the son of one of my father’s friends who gifted the completed model to me.

 

Fiat Topolino in box

Started and never finished, had intended to make a dragster from it. Note the $.89 price on box!

 

1965 Dodge Monaco

Stock except for engine and hood; gold color was molded into the plastic. This fetched one of the better prices on eBay.

 

1968 Chevy C10 pickup

Truck models were rare; this one has some mild customization

 

Henry’s Hemi Hearse, ’66 Cadillac

This already-outrageous concept was made more when I moved the front engine to the rear. Note the decal lettering, very influenced by the “Laugh-In” TV show.

 

1967 Ford Falcon

This is one of the last models I completed, built when I was probably 14. Also one of the few that got spray painted.

 

1975 Pontiac Firebird

Unbuilt; the last model car I bought. Bought this on a whim while in college and did nothing with it.

 

A 20-ft. high cat meandered onto my driveway….

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

 

Mecum Kissimmee 2022: Are These Sales Good Deals?

The gargantuan auction which is Mecum Kissimmee (over 4,500 vehicular lots) is held every January in its namesake Florida city. This year, the big show extends across 13 days, from Thursday January 6 through Sunday January 16. My previous two-day visits to Mecum Harrisburg were mind-numbing and ear-deafening; the thought of attending this circus for its entire duration would require earplugs, aspirin, and frequent excuses to temporarily vacate the premises. In reality, bidders most likely attend only on the days when the lots which interest them are crossing the block.

Mecum purposely schedules the expected show-stoppers for the weekends to maximize TV exposure. In contrast, it’s been traditionally observed that the first few hours or days can bring out the bargains. I therefore took the liberty to peruse results from Days 1 and 2 to see if there were any standout deals. Setting an arbitrary cutoff of $15,000, I found nine cars that struck me as good values for the buyers. These are personal judgements based on photos and sometimes scant descriptions; an in-person examination is always preferable.

The nine cars are listed below in model year order. All were sold on either Thursday Jan. 6 or Friday Jan. 7. The prices below include the 10% buyer’s premium; divide the number by 1.1 to obtain the hammer price. Links are provided to Mecum’s site (I cannot reprint their photos here). In a few cases where a recent BaT sale of a similar car was found, I included a link to that vehicle.

 

  1. 1964 Chevrolet Corvair Monza 4-door sedan: beige over black, 44k miles, 4-speed stick

SOLD for $11,550

First generation Corvairs usually pop up as 2-door coupes or convertibles. This 4-door (with its GM “flat roof”) is a rarely seen body style. Corvair owners are fanatical, and there’s good club and parts support. If not for the manual gearbox, I would not have included this. As Corvair enthusiasts like to say, “try buying that OTHER air-cooled flat-6 engine car for this kind of money”.

 

  1. 1971 VW Super Beetle convertible, yellow, black top and interior, mileage not noted, shiny paint, aftermarket wheels

SOLD for $14,300

Car looked very clean in photos; paint is almost too fresh. Lack of mileage indication usually means it’s high. Beetles of all years and body styles have recently garnered more attention at auctions. Like the Corvair, club and parts support are plentiful. BaT sold a very similar ’72 also in yellow in November ’21 for $21,500, making this one look like a deal.

 

  1. 1975 Plymouth Fury, green, white top, green interior, 440/automatic, no miles listed

SOLD for $11,000     

By 1975, Plymouth had moved the Fury nameplate down a notch to the intermediate platform; the full-size car was called “Gran Fury”. This coupe looked funky, and it’s not a body style that will appeal to many. The only reason for its inclusion here is the 440; obtaining this motor in most other Mopar products would cost multiples of this sale price.

 

  1. 1977 Chrysler New Yorker 2-door, triple beige, 20k original miles (19,583 shown on the 5-digit odo)

SOLD for $11,000

Forget the Fury; for the hardcore Mopar man (or gal), this was the one to have. If Walter P. were alive in 1977, this would be his company car. The car looks brand-new in photos. Sure, it’s from the Malaise Era, and you need a double-length pole barn to store it, but it’s perfect. And it’s a two-door! Once you learn to parallel park it, you will be the hit at every cruise night and Cars & Coffee you attend. As an added bonus, you can bring all five of your friends.  Oh, and get a gasoline credit card. Maybe two.

 

  1. 1981 Fiat 124 Spider Limited Edition, gold, tan top and interior, 66k miles, A/C, clean under hood, outside mirror broken off

SOLD for $14,300     

These Spiders, after languishing for years, are getting more attention and more bucks thrown at them. This Limited Edition car (only came in this color) was exceptionally clean-looking (and no rub strips!). BaT sold one in December 2021 for $16,500. Rust is enemy #1; try to not let it ever, ever get wet. Stay on top of maintenance (easy DIY or become friends with Tony) and they’re actually reliable.

 

  1. 1990 Ford Mustang convertible, 7-UP edition, green, white top and interior, 5.0/automatic, miles not stated

SOLD for $7,150

Fox-body Mustangs continue to be bargains, and I’m waiting for prices to take off. How can you go wrong in a drop-top pony car with a 5.0 V8 for well under 10 grand? Yeah, I also wish it were a stick, but that’s one of the tradeoffs at this number. (Mecum’s Kissimmee lots include many sporty cars with slushboxes; is this a reflection of Florida’s population?) Last month, BaT sold a ’92 ‘vert in the same colors with the same drivetrain for $13,250.

 

  1. 1992 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, double red, automatic, 35k miles

SOLD for $10,450

Corvette C4 prices are all over the map and largely dependent on miles and condition (and unwanted mods). The attraction here is the low mileage. I’m a fan of the ’91-and-newer restyle, which cleaned things up inside and out. I do think C4s represent a bit of a performance bargain, but the new owner should drive the car and not expect (or worry about) any future upside, which may never come to pass.

 

  1. 1994 Ford Mustang GT convertible, black and tan, 56k miles, 5.0/automatic

SOLD for $8,800

An additional $1,650 over the ’90 Mustang above nets a car four years newer, wearing updated styling on the SN-95 platform. Personally, it’s a toss-up between the two, and really dependent on color, miles, and service history. Again, the auto is the tradeoff at this number, but it’s still a lot of stylish fun on four wheels for under nine large.

 

  1. 1995 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 convertible, blue/white top/black interior, miles not stated, 5.7L/6-speed

SOLD for $8,250

I’ve not forgotten my bow-tie friends (some of whom look askance at Mustangs), so here is a very attractive Z28 drop-top with a stick (must have been brought in from outside of FL) for well under five figures. In October ’21, BaT sold a black ’95 Z28 with only 9k on the clock but with an automatic for $14,060; I’d rather have this blue one and pocket the almost 6 grand difference.

 

When Kissimmee is over, Mecum will brag about the high-five figure, six-figure, and (if there are any) seven-figure sales, implying that ALL their sold units went for big bucks. The collector car market is very strong right now; selling is favoring the sellers. That does not mean that bargains don’t exist, a point proven by these 9 examples (8 if you take away the Fury). The trick with auctions is to be at the right place at the right time. Looking at “sold” results is hindsight. With this many cars crossing the block, some are bound to fall through the cracks. (Mecum will keep a bidding session active for only one to two minutes.) The savvy bidder researches the lots of interest ahead of time, sets an upper limit, then places her/himself near the block, ready to bid. Each of these cars was sold to someone who is convinced they got a good deal, and they did.

 

 

 

 

 

Irv Gordon Joins Sunday Breakfast Run, Oct. 2010

As I continue to cycle through my photo files in search of automotive adventures which haven’t yet made their way into a blog post , I came across this gem. In October of 2010, we had a breakfast run which for the first and only time included our friend Irv Gordon, driving his Volvo 1800S no less.

Irv informs me he’s ready for breakfast

Irv, for those few who may not be familiar, holds the Guinness World Record for number of miles recorded on a privately-owned passenger car (he eventually surpassed 3 million miles). Many of us employed at Volvo Cars North America (VCNA) got to know Irv professionally, and once you know Irv, it’s difficult not to also know him personally. A large part of Irv’s success was due to his outgoing personality, good-natured warmth, and delight in sharing stories about his beloved Volvo sports car, which he bought new in 1966.

The shadows reveal how early in the morning we gathered on this sunny October Sunday

Driving from his Long Island home to northern Jersey for a one-hour ride to breakfast would be the equivalent for most of us to driving to the corner store for coffee. But join us he did, and I would guess that he knew most of the fellow participants already. The photos reveal just how small the Sunday morning breakfast group was at this time. It was great to have Irv out with us; while he was regularly invited to join subsequent breakfast drives, he was never able to attend another one. His typical excuse? He was on the road, headed to some other event somewhere else in the USA.

Presumably after we’ve eaten, as we’re all smiling

We lost Irv in 2018, and his Volvo is now housed within the Volvo Car USA Heritage Collection.

John and his C3 Corvette

 

Peter and his C3 Corvette

 

Paul and his ’69 Camaro

 

Burton and his C1 Corvette

 

Rich and son with his Mustang

 

Larry with his Monte Carlo

 

Steve and son with his Malibu

 

Irv with his ’66 Volvo 1800S

 

All photographs copyright © 2022 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.