2020 Atlantic City Car Show & Auction

G. Potter King (GPK) held its 2020 Atlantic City collector car event over the weekend of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, February 7, 8, and 9. According to their website, this mid-winter automotive extravaganza has been a February feature for forty years. I can recall attending this show in the 1980s and 1990s when it was held in the original Atlantic City Convention Center. A new building at a new location went up sometime in the early 21st century, and along with that came improved parking, lighting, and other amenities. Because February weather is unpredictable, I didn’t commit to attending until several days prior; luckily, two good friends came along and agreed to share the long drive down. We made a day trip of it on Saturday.

Perhaps because there is a recognition that the hobby is changing (i.e., the old guard is dying off), GPK expanded the scope of this year’s show beyond the traditional auction, car corral, and flea market. Inside the Convention Center were two static displays: a non-judged array of late-model exotica, both stock and modified; and a judged show including five different classes of cars. The latter show in particular took up significant floor space, a possible sign that there weren’t quite enough auction and corral vehicles to fill the available real estate.

Crowds were decent but not overwhelming

But wait, there’s more! As part of our $25 admission fee, we were granted tickets to the Showboat casino where there were even more show cars! I declined the jaunt over there, because my primary interest resided with the auction. The little time I did spend looking over the display n cars in the Convention Center only proved once again that most modern exotics look too much alike. I guess I’m not the target audience.

Conspicuous by absence was Kerbeck Chevrolet, the Atlantic City new car dealer who claims to be the world’s largest retailer of Corvettes. There has never been a year that I haven’t seen Kerbeck bring in dozens upon dozens of new and slightly used ‘vettes. I can no longer say that because it didn’t happen in 2020! A sign of the times, but I’m not sure yet of its significance.

Flea market had some of everything

On to the auction: the announced 11am start time was 11:30 in reality, and, it began with “automobilia”, that made-up hobby word which encompasses everything from oil cans and gas pumps to neon signs and artwork. Today’s feature was just that, “framed art work”, and we decided that it was a good time for an early lunch, but not before hearing the following (and this is close to verbatim):

“Up next is this ‘Raging Bull’ picture, and, it’s signed by Robert DeNiro! Now, the owner HAD the certificate of authenticity for the signature. But, he lost it. But trust us, it’s authentic! I was there when he bought the picture!”

Would the auctioneer lie to you? I didn’t think so. The picture sold, and I didn’t record the amount. It was around $100. However, the DeNiro autograph claim only reinforced that infamous phrase “caveat emptor”, Latin for “buyer beware”. Many of the “all original” or “low mileage” claims made during the day begged for verification.

From my casual observation, the sell-through rate was poor, below 50%. While there is general agreement that it’s a soft market at present, that does not mean that quality cars aren’t fetching fair prices. Unrecorded but observed by me were several late ‘60s/early ‘70s American muscle cars that hammered sold in the $50,000 range, plus or minus a few bucks. They seemed to represent good value, and such sales require a combination of sellers willing to let the car go for the “right number” and buyers willing to spend same. It’s the job of the auction company to bring like-minded buyers and sellers together at the same venue. It’s easier said than done, and it seemed to be somewhat lacking during my observations this past Saturday.

On the one hand, the longevity of the GPK auction scene is to be commended: the time of year is not favorable in the Northeast, the location is not a short haul for many in the metro NY/NJ area, and unless you’re a gambler, the local environment offers little incentive to hang out. On the other hand, there still is a “mom & pop” feel to the auction experience here, borne out by lack of attention to detail. Screens displaying current bid prices did not keep pace with real-time bidding, and “still for sale” cards on dashboards didn’t include high bids.

Competition in the Northeast has ratcheted up: Barrett-Jackson in CT and Mecum in Harrisburg PA are new as of a few years ago, and Carlisle Auctions in PA has made significant improvements to their spring and fall events. Lastly, unless the Convention Center has a jam-packed calendar, we continue to fail to understand why this event isn’t moved to late February, which incrementally improves the chances of better weather (or has global warming removed that concern?).


The cars covered below are the ones that struck my fancy. Since only a few of my picks met reserve, I am also including some cars that didn’t sell, along with my pithy comments about why or why not. As is always the case in my auction reports, vehicles are arranged in SALE PRICE (and bid price) order.

SOLD LOTS

Lot #1725, 1972 Triumph TR6, red, black top and interior

Crossed the block and declared “no sale” at $8,000; GPK website shows car SOLD for $9,000

A quick look showed no obvious defects; this is potentially a good buy for this 6-cylnder sports car.

 

Lot # 1720, 1993 Jaguar XJS convertible, green with tan interior (top was down & not inspected)

SOLD for $9,250

Paint looked substandard, headlight lenses opaque. Better cars have sold for slightly less.

 

Lot #1724, 1987 Olds 442, dark blue, blue cloth interior

SOLD for $10,750

A late ‘80s RWD intermediate from GM. Condition seemed to agree with low mileage claim. A bit above book, but fine if you want an affordable 442.

 

Lot #1770, 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury coupe, green, rare manual transmission

SOLD for $16,000

I always thought that Chrysler did a stunning styling job with these full-size ’67 Plymouths. This car was in nice shape, and not something that comes up for sale often. Well-bought for a MoPar fan.

 

Lot #1725, 1960 MGA, black, red interior

SOLD for $23,500

A very attractive car, could be a local show winner or fair weather driver. Sold slightly under market; a few thousand more would not have been unreasonable.

 

Lot #1743, 1968 Chrysler 300, green on green

SOLD for $28,500

Similar body shell as Lot #1770, the ’67 Fury. The 300 was even cleaner. Only issue were wide whites, but that’s an easy fix. A big beautiful Chrysler, and a car I’d be proud to own.

 

Lot #1815, 2001 Ferrari 360 spider, red, black top, tan interior, F1 transmission

SOLD for $62,000

At first glance, seems cheap for a ‘late model’ Ferrari. F1 tranny not to everyone’s taste; holding out for a 3-pedal car will cost more money. Just budget for maintenance; oh, you forgot about that part?

 

NOTABLE NO-SALES:

Lot # 1802, 1966 Mercedes Benz 230SL, white, dark blue interior

NO SALE at $37,500

Hardtop on car; manual gearbox (many were auto); white steering wheel a ‘50s throwback. It was announced on the block that it would take $60,000 to sell. Car seemed honest and solid, but $60k might be a bit rich for the 230 model.

 

1793 1956 Continental Mark II, black, white & grey interior

NO SALE at $45,000

Appeared to be a slightly older restoration, and it was holding up well. Paint was excellent; leather upholstery showed slight wear. Engine compartment very good. Even hard-core car guys seem to know little about these Mark IIs, so potential audience may be limited. Bid was probably light by $10,000 or so.

 

Lot # 1800, 1970 Mercedes Benz 280SL green, tan interior

NO SALE at $45,000

Hardtop on car; stick shift; possibly same consignor as lot #1802. The 280SL is the most desirable of the 3 Pagoda SLs (230, 250, 280) as it has the largest engine. Block announced that this car will need to reach $60,000 to sell (same as white 230SL). I would have declared this bid as light, but, this car spewed blue smoke from burning oil as it was driven away. Budget $10,000 for engine work before the first rally.

 

Lot # 1792, 1935 Packard 4-door sedan, burgundy, tan cloth interior

NO SALE at $50,000

I loved this car, from the grille to its straight-8 engine to its enormous back seat to its rounded backlight. I watched it drive up to the block and you could not hear it running. I have little notion of the values of pre-war Packards, but I’d like to think that we were close with this bid.

 

 

Lot #1797, 1974 DeTomaso Pantera, yellow, black interior

NO SALE at $56,000

You forget how small these are until you see one next to almost anything else. It was one of the lowest vehicles at the entire auction. Price seemed light to me; I’ve seen these sell on Bring a Trailer for closer to $70-75,000.

 

Lot # 1738, 1974 Jaguar E Type Series III OTS, silver, black top, red interior, stick shift

NO SALE at $60,000

First, this car was cosmetically stunning; it was a strong #2 condition car, and the color combo was one of my all-time favorites. As a Series III car, it has the V12, loved by some, loathed by others, and it rides on the longer 2+2 wheelbase, which changes the original gorgeous proportions. The block announced that it will take $75,000 to sell; in this market, something in between high bid and declared need should get the job done.

 

Lot # 1759, 1969 Jaguar E Type Series II OTS, dark red, beige interior

NO SALE at $70,000

Another stunning E-Type, this one a Series II. Bid was a bit light by $10-20,000, but these cars are off their highs of a few years ago. Only Series I convertibles are breaking into six figures.

 

PHOTO HIGHLIGHTS

All photographs copyright © 2020 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

 

G. Potter King Atlantic City Car Show Report, 2016

The pushers move a VW Beetle off the block an past the TV screen.
The pushers move a VW Beetle off the block. This one was a no-sale at $4,250.

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.

The swap meet had the usual mix of old and new stuff to tempt us all.
The swap meet had the usual mix of old and new stuff to tempt us all.

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.

The car corral again included plenty of dealers showing new and classic iron.
The car corral again included plenty of dealers showing new and classic iron.

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.

The view of the auction block from the grandstand.
The view of the auction block from the grandstand.

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.

If old cars bore you, gaze upon this row of new C7 Corvettes.
If old cars bore you, gaze upon this row of new C7 Corvettes.

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.

Car show food is overpriced and doesn't taste great. We walk 5 minutes to the AC train station in the same building for great food at Esquire's.
Car show food is overpriced and doesn’t taste great. We walked 5 minutes to the AC train station in the same building for great food at Esquire’s.

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.)

Auction cars, coming or going.
Auction cars, coming or going (sellers hope the latter).

AUCTION CARS

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.

At $85,000, the highest sale we saw on Saturday.
At $85,000, this E-Type was the highest sale we saw on Saturday.

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.

Inside shot of B-pillar shows latches
Inside shot of Packard B-pillar shows latches

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.

 

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