The Carlisle Spring Auction, 2016

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.

The Carlisle Expo Center is across the street from the famous fairgrounds
The Carlisle Expo Center is across the street from the famous 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!

CPI: $9,000-15,000


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!

CPI: $10,000-16,000

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.



RESERVE: $7,500

CPI: $6,000-15,000


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.



RESERVE: unknown

CPI: $7,000-17,000


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.



RESERVE: $7,000

CPI: $6,000-15,000

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!

CPI: $20,000-42,000

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!

CPI: $10,000-21,000

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.



RESERVE: unknown

CPI: $12,000-24,000

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.



RESERVE: $10,000

CPI: $5,000-10,000



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.



RESERVE: unknown

CPI: $6,000-13,000

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!

CPI: $7,000-14,000

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!

CPI: $8,000-19,000



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.



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




Carlisle Auction Report, April 2015

“Carlisle” held its Spring 2015 collector car auction on Thursday and Friday, April 23 & 24, at the Expo Center across from the Carlisle Fairgrounds in Carlisle, PA. For the uninitiated, “Carlisle” is classic car slang for Carlisle Events. What started in 1974 as a single flea market for post-war cars has grown in the ensuing decades into one of the biggest old car enterprises on the east coast, if not in the country. Today, in addition to the all-makes Spring and Fall events, there are marque-specific shows for GM, Ford, Chrysler, and Corvette. Imports are covered once a year at the Import-Kit Car Show. A number of years ago, auctions were added to the calendar. At first the Carlisle group ran their own auctions. They then partnered with Auctions America, the U.S. arm of RM Auctions. Most recently the auctions are again independently run.

The auction block at the Carlisle Expo Center
The auction block at the Carlisle Expo Center

This is not Mecum. Approximately 400 cars ran across the block over two days, and based on lot numbers, it was about 250 cars on Thursday and 150 on Friday. The vast majority of vehicles are the Chevrolets (Corvettes, Camaros, Malibus, Impalas) and Fords (Mustangs, T-Birds, Rancheros, pickups) you see at other auctions, in other words, the usual suspects. Unlike AACA, there is no model year cut-off. I witnessed a 2008 Ford F-550 truck attempt to maneuver its way onto the block (it didn’t make it, nor did it sell), so sometimes you feel like you’re sitting in Manheim at a late-model auction.

The seating area was just about filled to capacity.
The seating area was just about filled to capacity.

Reserves are up to the consigners, and based on my most unscientific observations, many reserves were high and kept the sell-through rate down. Thursday seemed to be a better day for sales than Friday, with a sales rate perhaps approaching 70%, dropping to 50% on Friday. One attraction for consigners is the “you don’t pay unless you sell” policy. The consignment fee ranges from $100 to $400, and Carlisle states that if your car does not sell, they will refund your fee. Both days, the Expo Center was standing room only, with plenty of active bidders crowding the block. There was not a seat to be had in the bidders’ area, likely helped by the free food and booze offered as part of the consignment package.

The crowd patiently waits until it's their turn to spend money.
The crowd patiently waits until it’s their turn to spend money.

Again, this is not Mecum. While I give the Carlisle staff full marks for their efforts, there were times when the proceedings had a true mom-and-pop feel to it. More than once, the auctioneer lost his place, and could not find his current two highest bidders. At least one of those times he had to wind the bidding back by a grand. Another vehicle had its mileage misstated on the screen (it showed 19k when the car had 99k) and all bids were struck while the auctioneer started again. On the other hand, it was nice that TV monitors scattered throughout the room clearly showed the car, the lot number, and the current bid. There was no such luxury in Atlantic City this past February.

My specific vehicle coverage below is all-import; first, this is where my heart is in the hobby; second, I find that many European cars get ignored at a domestic-heavy event like this, and some potentially good deals can be had. I would be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention the weekend’s star car: a 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am, owned by the actor Burt Reynolds, and modified into a “Smokey & The Bandit” tribute car, crossed the block around 7 p.m. on Friday. It STAYED on the block for about 30 minutes, or 10 times longer than the typical auction car. My personal guess was that the car would sell for $70,000. Add a one in front, as the car hammered for $170,000. Burt had signed the hood AND the dash, so that must have made the difference….

In model year order:

Lot #F395, 1957 BMW Isetta. Chassis #493993. Mileage: 10,000. Bubble window coupe, not the more common sliding window. Dark red and white two tone, black vinyl sunroof, red and white interior. Beautiful workmanship inside and out. Having owned one for 35 years, I know these cars. Outside restoration is almost 100% authentic, except for painted headlight trim rings (should be chrome). Rare to see someone get all the outside details correct. Interior modified as most are, with vinyl-covered panels (factory gave you painted fiberboard panels). This interior is relatively understated, looks professionally done, and complements outside colors well. Overhearing attendees’ reactions is priceless. One fellow said “this is not a car. This is almost a car”. Although Isetta market has cooled slightly, high bid was light by $5,000-10,000.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $28,000-53,000 (CPI)

Lot #F399, 1966 Mercedes Benz 230 SL roadster, warm silver with red vinyl interior, stick shift. Mileage is 70,936. Optional hard top. Unknown if soft top is included. Striking color combo, very clean overall. Nothing to fault with interior. Only glaring misstep is aftermarket exhaust, with tips extending about 4 inches past rear bumper. Sign says same owner last 20 years. If it runs well, this was well bought, especially with the stick, and will only appreciate.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $40,000-76,000 (CPI)

Lot #F443, 1973 Mercedes Benz 280 CE coupe, green and white with green velour interior. Mileage is 53,380. Automatic. Sign says “barn find”. Odd two-tone, with white paint across center section of roof. White hub caps. Outside is rough, with both doors not shutting well, poor paint, rust bubbles everywhere. EPA label verifies this is US spec car, but upholstery looks odd. Cheap sale price reflects an attractive body style on a car that will need serious work before becoming drivable.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $5,000-12,000 (CPI)

Lot #412, 1976 Triumph TR 6, bright green, black top, tan interior. Odometer just over 56,000. Sign claims car is rust free and it looks it. Red line tires and trim rings add elegant air to exterior; clean upholstery, unmarked wood dash, and coco mats do same for interior. Convertible top has correct reflective stripe. Overall strong presentation. Sale price is fair to buyer and seller.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $12,000-20,000 (Sports Car Market)

Lot #T199, 1977 Fiat 124 spider, orange, black top and interior. Mileage not noted. Quality repaint but overspray on windshield frame. No signs of rust. Front bumper crooked. Nice looking Fiat alloy wheels. Interior looks straight with no rips or tears. Lots of eyeball but would need to look at floors and underside to ensure solid metal was underneath.
SALE PRICE/HIGH BID: Not sold, high bid not noted
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $7,000-10,500 (Sports Car Market)

Lot #T150, 1981 Porsche 924, silver with black interior, bra on front, mileage not noted (it doesn’t matter). Sad and tired looking thing. Silver paint worn, faded, scratched. Factory sunroof, Porsche alloys. Interior no better than outside. Seat covers with driver’s cover pulled back to reveal black electrical tape on seat bolster. Wires running through door jamb from hood into interior for aftermarket gauge. Aftermarket exhaust looks too large for car. Trailer hitch! Bid to $2000 and did not sell. Car is living proof that Porsche is not infallible.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $3,000 (Sports Car Market)

Lot #F339, 1983 Mercedes Benz 380 SL roadster, black with gray interior, hard top, sign says mileage is 50k. Sign also says light blue interior which is wrong. Straight body, aftermarket fog lights, exterior bright work dull, Benz alloys look scruffy, black paint shows every wash/wipe/buff mark. Interior good except for driver’s seat with blue pen marks. Car looks no better and no worse than any other of the dozens of 70s-80s era SLs for sale. Sold for a bit of a steal considering mileage, as many of these cars have over 100k on them. A good detail will do it wonders.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $7,000-16,000 (Sports Car Market)

Lot #F447, 1984 BMW 633 CSi coupe, black on black, 80k original miles, sunroof, automatic. BMW alloys. Black looks well maintained but still shows swirl and buff marks. Trunk roundel chipped, aluminum bumpers dull and scratched. Clean underhood. Sold near mid-price guide number, should provide many more enjoyable miles.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $3,700-7,600

Lot #F434, 1984 Fiat 2000 spider, badged as Pininfarina, 47k original miles, red, tan top and interior. Fiat alloy wheels, Repaint looks quality and shines up well. Little to fault on exterior. Sign on car claims original interior and chrome, new tan top. Interior very clean. Overall very attractive presentation. Really good Fiat spiders are gaining traction, as witnessed here with this result.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $6,800-16,000 (CPI)

Lot #F402, 1986 Porsche 928 S4, automatic, 155k miles, garnet red metallic with brown leather interior. Car looks clean for mileage. No sign of overspray, could be well maintained original paint. Factory sunroof. Interior likewise appears like a good used car with no signs of typical 928 interior breakdown. Sign claims one owner car. Car appears more like an example with half the miles. Mileage did not scare away bidders. Only question is what maintenance and repairs are in the immediate future.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $9,700-19,000 (CPI)

Lot #F451, 1987 VW Cabriolet, bright red, white top, white pinstripe cloth interior, stick shift. Mileage is 86,736. Exterior looks sharp as does interior. Sign says original paint and miles. As clean as the exterior and interior are, the engine compartment is a disaster. A valve cover repaint and power wash would transform it. Air cooled VWs are hot, water cooled VWs are not. This “chick car” has long been ignored in the marketplace except by a few who correctly see it as inexpensive top-down fun. Sold well above high price guide number, likely due to overall presentation. Most of these Cabrios are shot by now.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $2,300-4,600 (CPI)

Lot #F401, 1999 Jaguar XK8 roadster. Red, tan top, ivory interior. Chrome wheels. Automatic. Looks like a clean 15 year old used car (meant as a compliment). Mileage is 79,258. Driver’s seat has some leather cracking and wear, but still serviceable. Sign claims upgraded stereo and heated seats. At this sale price (10% of its MSRP), car could be a daily driver AND a weekend cruise night car.
PRICE BOOK RANGE: $10,000-14,000 (CPI)


All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.