Fall Carlisle 2017, a combination automotive flea market, car corral, and auction, was held at the Carlisle Fairgrounds from September 27 through October 1.
As I strolled through the grounds, the same two questions repeated in my head: “Should someone get in while the getting is good?” Or, “Should we get out while there’s still a way out?”
These questions came up because many of us in the hobby are concerned about its future. It always comes back to “what will my old car be worth down the road?” The Carlisle events, principally Spring and Fall Carlisle, have been a wonderful barometer of the hobby for over 40 years. The car corral this year told a markedly different story: corral spaces were perhaps 60% taken (in the past, one usually had to wait for a car to sell for a spot to become available); yet among the cars on the premises, many seemed to have reasonable asking prices.
The flea market, on the other hand, was filled to capacity, with nary an open space to be found. Vendors were out in force, even if the crowd on the picture-perfect Friday when I attended was a bit lighter than I would have expected.
I began my morning in the car corral, then after a gourmet lunch under the grandstand, walked a few of the flea market aisles. By 3pm, I was headed across the street to the Expo Center where the Fall 2017 version of Carlisle Auctions was underway. Here we saw the hobby flexing its muscles. The auction has expanded to three days from its previous two; most of the bidders’ seats were taken; and the bidding, while not exceptional, seemed to hold to about a 60-70% sell-through rate. Perhaps, rather than deal with tire kickers in the corral, sellers are rolling the dice on the auction block.
The photo coverage below is divided into two sections. First, we feature car corral choices with asking prices below 10 grand. If you’ve got some bucks burning a hole in your pocket, or are open-minded enough to be flexible about a first (or additional) collector car, there were plenty to choose from.
Our second section is entitled “Carlisle Auction re-runs”. This is an arbitrary list of vehicles which did not meet reserve. To the credit of the folks who run the show, the high bids are posted on the windshields in plain sight. I sometimes think that going back and trying to negotiate a price AFTER the car has crossed the block might be a better strategy, as it removes the pressure of bidding while the auctioneer is yammering in your ear at 110 decibels.
In both cases, no editorial comment about vehicle condition or value relative to the asking/bid price is supplied. As always, caveat emptor(which is Latin for “collector cars may be worth more or less than what you pay for them”).
CAR CORRAL: UNDER $10,000 EDITION
1988 Mercedes Benz 560 SL roadster, asking $7,000:
1976 Triumph Spitfire, asking $5,500:
1995 Pontiac Trans Am, asking $8,900:
2003 Toyota Tacoma pickup, asking $9,500:
1987 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, asking $5,400:
1976 Olds Cutlass coupe, asking $9,000:
1985 Nissan 300ZX 2+2 coupe, asking $7,950:
1977 MGB, asking $8,500:
1995 Pontiac Firebird convertible, asking $5,800:
1995 Chevrolet Camaro, asking $6,500:
1978 Ford Thunderbird, asking $9,500:
2002 BMW 330Ci convertible, asking $5,995:
1996 Chevrolet Corvette coupe, asking $6,995:
The most attractive and unusual car in the corral (to me) was this 1974 Fiat 128, claimed to have 12,000 original miles (and it looked it):
CARLISLE AUCTION RE-RUNS
1969 MGB-GT, no sale at high bid of $6,750:
1939 La Salle, no sale at high bid of $14,000:
1964 Chevrolet Corvair convertible, no sale at high bid of $5,700:
1988 BMW M3, no sale at high bid of $41,000:
1961 Sunbeam Alpine (Tiger ‘conversion’), no sale at high bid of $4,500:
Who needs a cell phone to double as a key? Just carry a screwdriver…
1991 Ford Mustang convertible, no sale at high bid of $7,250:
1979 Chevrolet Corvette, no sale at high bid of $10,000:
1969 Chevrolet El Camino, no sale at high bid of $12,000:
1966 Ford Mustang coupe, no sale at high bid of $11,000:
1964 Chevrolet El Camino, no sale at high bid of $16,000:
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?