By on January 21, 2007

22222.jpgBuying an automobile from a private seller is risky business. There’s only one guarantee: you have less chance of successful legal compensation than you would trying to recover your $5 tip from a New York City cabbie. On the positive side, you can make out like a bandit. This is especially true for a privately owned collector car. Whether it’s a classic or a street rod, if someone else gets stuck with the time and expense of restoration, you win. 

For some reason, collectors’ imaginations are fired by the proverbial “barn find”: a rare car that time and Aunt Minnie forgot. These sightings are almost as extraordinary as they are undesirable. In the vast majority of cases, the car you’ll find stuffed into someone’s fallen down garage is about as beat as the building. So the best way to find a privately owned collector car is to visit brand-specific car sites and car shows and search through local classified ads.

Generally, the better the car’s condition at the time of sale, the better the buy. That said, there are times when liberating an original owner from an unrestored can pay off. If a collectible car is all original, relatively clean and still runs, it could be a winner. Like antique furniture, an untouched gem can be worth more than a fully restored vehicle. Buy it, love it, leave it be.

Let’s say you’ve found a private seller with a collector car that may or may not need some serious restoration–depending on the vehicle’s condition, your OCD and the time and money you’re prepared to spend on the machine. Time to hit the paper trail.

Most vintage auto owners keep careful records of their car’s restoration expenses and/or upkeep. Begin by asking to see any and all the paperwork, and any pictures documenting restoration. Suggest a cup of coffee, find a comfy spot and take all the time you need to examine the entire portfolio. Ask for explanations– or silence– when required.

Next, have a look at the car’s drive train and engine. Don’t worry if they need work. Provided you’re dealing with a mass-market machine of some kind, plenty of companies will sell vintage vehicle restorers a replacement engine and related parts. Alternatively, you might be able to find mission critical pieces in a vintage auto salvage yard.

Then check the bodywork. Begin with the spaces between body panels. The quality of the sheetmetal alignment will vary according to make, model and manufacturer. The gaps of a 1958 Porsche were uniform and should remain so. On a 1948 Chevrolet, you wouldn’t much care. To ensure consistent panel, insert a nickel into the open spaces at all the critical points. Pay close attention to the doors, the engine (compartment) and hood.

Then scan the entire lower portion of the car’s body for rust. Look inside all the car’s body cavities, around the wheel wells and trunk and, particularly, under the spare tire. Bring a flashlight and don’t be afraid to poke, prod and push. Tap the metal to [try to] discover any filler.

Rust appears as scales, bubbles or rough edges. It tends to start at places where dirt accumulates; moisture clings to sod and starts the rusting process. Check around the trim, lower areas and seams. If the rust infects structural areas of the car, unless you’re buying the car for parts, pass. Bodywork is the exclusive province of expensive experts.

If the collector car’s a runner, run it; and not just around the block. Don’t talk to the owner; listen for any groaning, scraping or whistling sounds. Notice any mechanical hesitation. When you’re done, open the hood and inhale deeply.

When you’re done, leave. Find an expert– preferably a professional car restorer– go back and do it all again. Get an estimate on how much it will cost to put things right— even if you plan on doing it yourself. Then double the amount. And then forget the whole thing and buy a concourse-winning car.

A vintage car needing a comprehensive rebuild can require between a thousand to two thousand hours of labor to put right. A competent auto restoration shop will charge you roughly $50 per hour for the privilege. That’s $50k to $100k, plus parts (which can double the bill). Very few collector cars are worth that much money; the ones that are will cost you the same again to buy in the first place.

Bottom line: restoring decrepit cars is a horrendous investment— at least for the person footing the bill. In contrast, a pristine, fully restored automobile offers a priceless opportunity to buy a bargain. Seriously. While novice collectors are often shocked by the prices of immaculate classics and vintage automobiles, buying the best possible example of a restored model is almost always cheaper than trying to create one.

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33 Comments on “Car Collecting: Giving Private Sellers Benjamins...”


  • avatar
    jerry weber

    I was once told by a classic car showroom operator that when you buy a restorable car you buy it twice for the reasons you outlined above. My problem is that the prices for the restored stuff is going ballistic at the national car autctions. This is particularly true of the 50’s on vintages. The muscle cars like corvettes, chevys, fords are outrageous compared to the true classics. I don’t know if paying these new prices will ever see daylight for the buyer. They will satiate his ego.

  • avatar

    Jerry,

    What you are seeing in the “national car auctions” (which translates mostly to the B-J auctions televised on SpeedTV) is a completely artificial bubble economy. It is not grounded in reality of any sort. Much like the Japanese-driven “Ferrari bubble” of ’85-’90, it will collapse under its own weight at some point. Generic Detroit iron can not sustain prices in six figures, much less seven.

    The ability to build fakes is far too easy when the determiner of value is the option package and NONE of these cars were documented very well – because they were COMMON. Hell, half the kids I went to high school with between ’77 and ’81 were driving their Dad’s or brother’s hand-me-down Camaro or Barracuda. Do you think they kept receipts and documentation? No… those cars were worth about $4000 back then, and to be honest, they are worth AT MOST $40,000 today.

    Unfortunately an artificial market has been created for them and idiots are forking over serious bucks. That means that an unscrupulous restorer (and there are plenty of them, let me tell you!) can take a donor chassis of a fairly common 60s car, and “create” a desirable, “ultimate option car”… for about the $100k talked about above. If they can flip that car over the auction block for $750,000 or MORE, they will. And they have. Which means a LOT of these 5 seconds of fame on Speed guys have paid waaaay too much.

    The morning after is coming… soon.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    New2LA

    I agree. It’s becoming a well-known fact that the collector car market for American muscle cars is being blown out of whack by the annual Barrett Jackson collector car-nivals.

    I’m always afraid about the what-ifs…what if B-J is somehow accused of committing fraud one way or another (not saying they are)…or, whatever. What if they have financial problems at some point. The point is, if BJ falls, then so does the muscle car market. That’s pretty scary.

    Last night, Shelby’s personal Cobra sold for a staggering $5 mil. It’s a beautiful car, a one-off, in pristine condition. It’s a true piece of history and is priceless…almost. To me, the real question is whether it is worth the whole $5 mil in a sane market.

    I do know this: most of the “driver” restomods in this year’s auction are NOT worth the $150k that people are paying. If you want a rusty plain-jain ’70 Chevelle that someone rebuilt to make into a quasi-454SS, paying, say, $50k for one in great shape sounds within the realm of reason. But paying 2 or 3 times that is a real risk.

    But then again – car collecting is a hobby, not an investment.

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    I consistently refuse to participate in any collectibles craze, whether it’s Beanie Babies, comic books, vintage tin cans from the 1940s, or [insert semi-useless item category here].

    Since the actual economic value of any of these items is virtually nil (unlike investments such as stocks, bonds and real estate), the entire price structure is based upon the “Greater Fool” theory. Once the market runs out of fools, reality hits hard and fast.

    Some classic cars will always be valuable due to rarity and/or exceptional history. But the recent run-up in muscle-car-era Detroit iron is clearly irrational exuberance.

    The other part of this that confounds me is the ‘Gotta have the car I lusted over in high school” factor. Maybe because my high-school years were the late-70s to early-80s, I just didn’t have lust-worthy machines in those days.

    Nowadays, I look at a car like a $23k MazdaSpeed3 that can kick a** on the overwhelming majority of vintage cars, get 25mpg and haul 4 people in relative comfort, and I wonder why a ’68 Mustang fastback would prompt anyone to pay $40k+ for such an anachronistic beast.

  • avatar
    mbz16V

    My dad is a classic car dealer and is currently at the auctions in Arizona. Basically he said three interesting things happened this year.

    (1) Some poor sap lost about a million dollars on a muscle car he bought last year and resold this year.

    (2) Keith Martin of Sports Car Market was escorted out by Barrett-Jackson’s henchmen over a tiff with Mr. Jackson.

    (3) The market for vintage Jaguars and Porsches is strengthening, especially the Porsche race car and road going factory tuner variants.

  • avatar
    macarose

    buzz, you wouldn’t have been a poster at Catalk’s old site. If that’s the case please give Tom & Karen my regards.

    Now on to classic cars. Out here in northwest georgia we have a very healthy supply of American muscle cars. Unlike most of the rest of the US though, these vehicles are driven and modified for the benefit of the owner. Classic Mustang bodies are usually used for various types of racing, Road Runners and Rancheros can usually be seen at least once a day, and rice burners… well let’s just say that the Hondas with the big axe-ho tailpipes are usually found well south of here… Thank God!

    What’s personally interesting to me is that folks in these parts don’t stick their cars in garages, dingy storage sheds, or use them for indoor museum pieces. They drive em’ at least once a week, and some use them several times during the week. To me that’s the purpose of having a 1950’s and beyond ‘Classic’ car. To drive and to be seen.

  • avatar
    DaveClark

    I knew I should have kept my 70 Dodge Challenger. Who knew?

    Barrett Jackson is riding a wave, but the crest will give way to the trough after enough people drown (er, go broke).

  • avatar
    buzzliteyear

    To Macarose,

    I guess you missed my response the last time you asked about me.

    The answer is : YES.

    And I’ll let K&T know you still think about them.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled Detroit-vs.-Import bashing….

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    Ya gotta keep in mind classic cars, like any hobby, are an idiotic thing to consider as an “investment.” Sure, some people make money, and some pros consistently do so. But the real money to be made in this business is by selling parts, cars, and service to the “investors” in classics.

    I love my classic cars, they’re my personal time machines. I have way too much money in them, but it’s a very enjoyable past time for me. But I have no illusions that I’m sitting on anything other than a money sink.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    I am saddened to hear that Keith Martin was escorted out of the tent after some flap with Craig Jackson. Of course, I don't know the circumstances, but methinks that Mr. Jackson is the victim of hubris. Keith Martin has done perhaps more than anyone in the country to promote Barrett-Jackson, both with his magazine Sports Car Market and also his broadcasts with the other commentators at SPEED Channel. As far as making money with a collectible car, it can be done but, of course, it is very difficult. And as my friend Tom Sumners, owner of Golden Era Motors, an auto restoration shop, has said you can't expect to be paid for your work, if you yourself, as the owner, do the work and then try to turn it over. A pal of mine who is a machinist found that out with a neat little 1963 Morris-Minor series 1000 sedan he bought from a guy who runs a antiques shop up in Snohomish, WA. My pal paid $3,200 for the car in November, 2004; and I followed him to his home. There, he did a brake job on the car, took out the tar from the trunk – what passed for rust-proofing in the England of '63 – and repainted the trunk. He also did some minor panel repair and waxed it. The little bugger sat outside of his house, off and on, for almost two years. He had it entered in collector car auction, for the second Saturday on October just past; but he succeeded in selling it to a guy at a swap meet, the week before that auction – For $3,200. So he substituted his 1972 Honda N600 sedan for the number he'd bought at the auction. He got an honest bid of $7,000 on the Honda – low mileage and featured by yours truly in the Escape Roads section of AutoWeek. But he had a reserve set at $15,000; and refused to come off that reserve. So it goes.

  • avatar
    Studedude1961

    Look at and treat the old car hobby like you would golf. It’s fun, the equipment if you want to do it right is expensive, and green fees just go down a rat hole. There is no return on a golf hobby. Buy what you want, find the finest finished car possible, don’t expect a big return (or any return) on your money, and just have fun with the hobby.

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    The fact that you get any return at all is just a bonus. People seem to have to make money on hobby cars these days or they’re failures or something–and it just doesn’t work that way very often.

    (Frankly, I think a lot of people justify what is a very expensive hobby to themselves and their families by saying “this money isn’t spent, it’s invested–we can always get it back if we need it!”)

    No one likes to leave money on the table, but there is often a HUGE disconnect between the perceived value of a classic and its real value. We’ve all looked at cars and ads where it is clear that the sellers have no idea what their car is worth.

    As Studedude61 mentions, no one plays golf and expects to recoup their “investment” when they’re done with it as a hobby. Yet that expectation remains for many people who play with cars.

  • avatar
    macarose

    LOL! It’s wonderful to ‘read’ your voice again. I wish I had organized my life a bit better when I had ventured into SF for a few dealer auctions out in Sacramento. It would have been great to have finally put all the pieces together.

    There’s really just a stupidity cycle that goes with all this hype. Before the BJ’s auctions we had the tricked out SUV’s on display, before that there was the tuner scene, before that….

    I guess all of this will be well over the top when we see a ‘Classic’ Volvo XC90 with tricked out uranium-239 wheels, 22 plasma TV’s (tuned into 22 Swedish TV shows), and custom nautica trim designed by the ‘Capital One Vikings’, being auctioned off by former Senator Bill Bradley.

    Oh wait, wasn’t that on last night???

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    A Chevelle would be nice to have, but I already spend way too much time on our two daily drivers to ever baby a classic.

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    Since when are Detroit shitmobiles of the 60’s and 70’s considered classics? It must be that rich guys with more money than brains who were teens in those days create the buying scene. Perhaps they are procuring trophies of their first back seat dalliances, hence the lack of market for cars of the 20’s to 40’s as those ol boys have tooled off to the sky garage.
    Now a chopped and chanelled 51 Merc. — thats a classic!
    Her name was Molly.

  • avatar
    esldude

    Hey another useful tip for finding body filler on steel cars…a rubber coated magnet. Rubber protects the paint. The magnet won't stick to 'glass or body filler. Some experts can replace metal in which case it wouldn't work. But it works enough to be worth doing. Someone said why the need to have the car you lusted over in high school? I don't quite know. I do know I never have thought much about people who want the car they had. Until recently. I had one car I loved, owned, and was related to lots of important life experience in my late teens early 20's. I saw one at the Hot Rod Power Tour last year. Walked up to the identical car. Worse it was absolutely identical to mine inside. When I stuck my head inside, it is hard to describe the feeling. Both a sense of being perfectly at home ( I had to remind myself, this isn't mine), and a short flashback to more than 25 years ago. A very powerful, personal, emotional feeling that was unexpected. I guess I understand it better. And why that is worth something extra. I just don't know if you can feel that way everytime. If you can come close, well pretty valuable that. This from a guy who doesn't live in the past and thinks badly of those who seem to while ignoring the present. Just a human reaction I suppose. The real definition of nostalgia is that feeling that won't quite translate into words if you haven't felt it.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Well "Colinpolyps" we can kick dirt on almost everyone's general idea of what a "classic" is, can't we? The Classic Car Club of America – http://www.classiccarclub.org – has a pretty short list of cars and it covers mostly those of pre-World War II origin (although it does stretch from 1925 through '48). And while like you, I like what is generally called "the James Dean car," you're also spot on about the cars of the 1960s and '70s, as to why they are so popular. They didn't generally handle worth a damn and the torque is oftentimes so uncontrollable, what can you do with it, after all? But no one ever said the Ford model "A" was a particularly practical car, at least in terms of modern roads; but people still want those – although again, you're right, not in the numbers they once did, for the same reasons they now want "muscle cars" It's really all about perception, after all. There's a phrase that's become popular in political campaign strategy: perception is reality. No where is that more true than with cars, trucks or motorcycles that people collect. I tried explaining to a young woman last fall, who insisted on calling Chevrolets of the '50s and '60s, "classics," what a "full classic" was; however, since when I mentioned the words "Cords, Auburn and Dusenberg" I got a glassy-eyed stare, I gave up shortly. It's like trying to explain to your friends, who think a particular woman you lust after is plain, why you do.

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    Terry, there will always be a small segment of folks who are interested in a particular type of classic car, and still stick around when the “fad” buyers leave. For cars like the Model A, there’s no emotional connection to the cars any longer for most people, so you’re left with weirdos like me who admire them as period pieces. There’s a guy local to us who has a lovely mid-twenties Willys Knight sedan for sale…and it’s been for sale forever. It’s a neat old car, but no one cares.

    There was a ’29 Packard for sale locally as a project as well. Needed many $$$ spent, but a lovely machine. The guy mainly got inquiries from people wanting to make it into a rod, and he wasn’t willing to sell on those terms.

    I have an E-Type and love it. But there is no way a car they made 72,000 of should be worth $100,000. Then again, I’m flabbergasted that there are many new cars that cost that much or more.

  • avatar

    When I buy a hobby car, I approach it like renting a dvd. It’s entertainment for me and there’s no resale value. Helps considerably on living with a 928 and 951 :).

  • avatar
    GS650G

    To someone with a net worth north of 10 million dollars 100K for a toy hot rod is nothing. They don’t care what it costs anymore than they worry about the price if milk.

    I prefer early 80’s japanese motorcycles. They are cheap to buy, reliable, easy to find parts for, and simple to own.

    I went down the old car road years ago and regret the money I wasted. At the end of it all I needed transportation more than some unique automobile. When I ahd a chance to buy a “clssisc” car a little while ago I passed and I I’m glad I did so today.

    I like the B-J shows, I get a kick out of guessing how far it will go.

  • avatar
    noley

    A guy I know is a leading expert on classic MGs. He has 3 of them in his garage, all immaculate, with one pre-WW 2 car worth something north of $100 Large.

    We were talking about worth and value one day and he noted that some classics, like his, other early British cars, some Porsches, Ferraris, etc., will probably appreciate somewhat in value (at least to a narrow audience) due to rarity, but most cars really won’t. What you can do he said, is buy one now, enjoy it for several years, and sell it for what you paid or maybe a bit more. You don’t so much make a financial profit as you do the intangible one of owning an older car you really like.That’s not a bad thing as long as you go in knowing the car is not an investment, unless it is something truly unique.

    But in my opinion, the ridiculously high dollars being spent on ’60s and ’70s muscle cars will, before very long, kill the market except for the people with more money than brains.

  • avatar
    rodster205

    I have never even BEEN to Arizona but…

    I suspect (just guessing) that Mr. Jackson got tired of Mr. Martin pointing out how out of whack things are. I think I heard some of Mr. Martin on Tues or Wed(?) and remember how shocked he was about some of the prices, especially the UNDER ones. I suspect (again just guessing) that some of the sellers heard Mr. Martins comments and had words with Mr Jackson for losing them so much money.

    Or maybe Mr. Jackson realized (he is smart) that all the talk about “well bought” cars will hurt his prospects for selling NEXT time. The last thing anyone riding a bubble wants is someone to realize that the bubble is bursting.

    Example: Last summer I saw lots of realtors and mortgage people breathlessly panting about how “great” the market was and how there was “no downturn” and “now was the time to buy”. Sure enough, by the end of the year there was no denying it, and they are now saying “because of the slow down, NOW is the time to buy!”

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    In my opinion, there have been few people more responsible for the run-up in prices than Mr. Martin. That’s really the whole focus of his magazine. If he’s suddenly had an epiphany, that’s great, but his subscriber base is exactly the kind of folks who drop silly money on cars.

  • avatar
    webebob

    “Maxwelton” id’ed the phenomena perfectly, the monied middle agers are chasing those cars they identified with in their youth, and as new generations move into their money years, so will the automobile generations move up in years that are rocketed to ever higher amounts. Soln for young peoples retirement: Buy “Tokyo Drifters” now at discount prices, store in a warehouse for 30 years, and sell for 10 million euros a pop then.

    What significance will a ’69 camaro ss or z convertible have for a teenager of 2007 when he/she chases their dream car in 2037?

  • avatar
    rodster205

    That’s really the whole focus of his (Martin’s) magazine. If he’s suddenly had an epiphany, that’s great, but his subscriber base is exactly the kind of folks who drop silly money on cars.

    While I agree his base is probably those with the money to spend, I think he does NOT necessarily hype the vehicles. Look at some of his reviews, he is quite often brutally honest about the lack of value of most of the cars he reviews unless they are truly rare.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Well, I will admit I have my own problem with the way some of the readers of Sports Car Market approach vintage automobiles; it’s akin to the people who are buying houses in Seattle, where I live, with no intent of living in the places, just a desire to “flip them” in as soon as six months. It drives up housing prices – another whole issue. What I have said, a few times, to people I know is “you don’t need a collector car; but you do need a place to live.” (Nope, I won’t debate capitalism here.) Thing is, it always seems to go back to that great line that Oscar Wilde had, which the late Ansel Adams used, when asked during a Playboy interview, what he thought of (then) Secretary of the Interior James Watt and some others working for the Reagan administration. “These are men who, as Oscar Wilde said, ‘Know the cost of everything and the value of nothing,’ ” replied the great nature photographer. If a person hangs around enough of the big-end collector car auctions, it is easy to get that way. Having worked for Keith Martin and having known him since 1994, I know he has developed the jaundiced eye of all journos and commentators; however, I also know him to be a real auto enthusiast. Last May, I spied him at an auction in Puyallup, Washington (was covering same for Old Cars Weekly), wearing jeans, just like we proles. I told him, most sincerely, “I didn’t recognize you in jeans” and he just laughed. Keith seemed to having a great time, watching everything from (yet another) Shelby Mustang bid to $100,000 (didn’t sell against an undisclosed reserve) to the “drivers” most of us really poked around looking at. Hopefully, Craig Jackson will tender Keith an apology; but then, again maybe he won’t. There’s a word I have heard applied to Mr. Jackson I won’t use here, especially since I have no first hand experience of him to ensure its accuracy.

  • avatar
    mbz16V

    I have the “Collector-car writer ejected from show” article from the Arizona Republic Newspaper. It said…

    “Veteran collector-car writer and publisher Keith Martin was stripped of his media credentials and escorted off the WestWorld grounds of the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction this week after he made what officials called disparaging and damaging public statements about the event.

    Wednesday’s ejection of Martin, well-known as the former auction commentator for Speed Channel’s live coverage of Barrett-Jackson, comes after a blowup with the auction regarding recent columns and coverage in his Oregon publication, Sports Car Market, which covers collector-car auctions in the United States and Europe.

    The disagreement resulted in Martin being fired as commentator by Speed and Barrett Jackson which partner in the coverage, said auction President Steve Davis.

    In the latest situation, Martin was “holding court” in the Scottsdale auction’s media center before dozens of media people and the auction goers, Davis said, telling them that Barrett-Jackson is rife with problems and irregularities and they should instead attend one of the competing auctions in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

    “He was holding a seminar on why you should leave Barrett-Jackson,” Davis said. “It came down to him advising people that you need to go to Russo and Steele and RM, and that Barrett-Jackson has, at best, just average cars.”

    You can read the rest of it by following this link to The Arizona Republic

    Keith really made an ass of himself, although in my dad’s professional opinion, he’s correct about the sad state of the B-J auction house and their egotistical marketing-driven auctioneering practices that have created a “muscle car” price bubble.

    This would be great material for another TTAC Death Watch.

    You can thank me later.

    Damn, I’m good.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Thank you very much, "mbz16V" for your comments and the link to the article in the Arizona Republic. Thing is, I think that BJ's Mr. Davis has not a clue about journalism, when he says that Keith (Martin) was being "journalistically unethical." It would have been unethical for Keith not to tell the truth, as he sees it. Keith puts on seminars for potential buyers and I guess that he might have made the comments he did at the one he put on a Barrett-Jackson. I know that Keith has the conundrum of any publisher who is also an editor: courting advertisers – as I have literally heard him do – while putting on the journo "hat" at another time. Keith – God bless him – has an ego – what writer doesn't? – and so the comment about "holding forth court" made me smile. But damnit, Keith has been around cars since he did his own work on Alfas, while a ballet student – yes, the man could dance and pretty well from what I understand – and then later, when he sold Ferraris (for Monte Shelton, a dealer of several makes in Portland, Oregon, known as a real auto enthusiast and a straight-up guy). Keith cut his publisher teeth with the Alfa-Romeo Newsletter which morphed into Sports Car Market. Again, I have never been to Barrett-Jackson – and none of this makes me want to go. Like most people reading this site, I have watched it once on television. And I can say that I lucked out in writing something – which allowed me a ride in – on the 1954 Oldsmobile F-88 convertible that sold for $3.24 million in January, 2005 at the Barrett-Jackson auction that month. (The piece was for AutoWeek and ran in the "Escape Roads" section, sometime in May, 2002. It was a hard sell to then managing editor Jeff Sabatini, who had never heard of that car; but whose then owner, Gordon Apker, is a guy I have known since 1988 – and who had hoped for maybe six figures at the aforementioned auction and was as blown away as anyone by the final successful bid.) The F-88 was an anomaly, just as was the most recent $5 million Cobra sale. As far as most of the cars at Barrett-Jackson being average, I go by the word of a friend (who I shall keep anonymous since he is a collector car dealer and I don't want him to get in trouble with Craig Jackson). When he and I saw a Amphicar offered for sale at an auction in Portland, Oregon last March, I asked him if it was as nice as the one that sold for $115,000 last January at Barrett-Jackson; it was, an average car, at best. He said the one at Barrett-Jackson was "about the same." He did allow, that it was well-presented, with the seller at B-J wearing a yachting costume, complete with captain's hat; and somehow, there was an anchor, also on display. It's all about presentation and show business with auctions. My hunch is that Keith was only trying to point that out to people. Admittedly, he might have been best advised to do that somewhere off the premises of the big tent. I sure do wish him well, in trying to get back into the hunt. It sure makes me shiver to think that Barrett-Jackson's minions were not only able to get him "escorted" from the premises, but also fired from SPEED Channel. It's not at the same level of import perhaps, but it reminds me of what the original Mayor Daley did to Dan Rather at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, summer of 1968. For those too young to remember, I leave it to you to search Wikipedia to find out what happened then and there.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    Excuse me, in reading a short news item at NBCMSN.com, I see that the Cobra sold for a half million more than I’d written, in the last comment, for a total of $5.5 million. Of course, there are buyer’s fees that weren’t probably put into the NBCMSN.com report – something that Keith Martin does, when he lists the “final results” in his magazine. The same news item mentioned the buyer of the Cobra was the same person who paid more than $4 million – $4.32 mill, as I recall – last year for a incorrectly restored GMC “Futureliner” bus. I call it “incorrect” because it had an updated engine (350 cubic inch V8 “crate motor” instead of the original 302 cubic-inch, in-line 6 cylinder engine – yes, GM made such an engine for heavy duty truck use, starting with U.S. Army trucks, made during the Korean War). That fact created a minor furor, after the auction, as I heard tell, but which Craig Jackson was able to keep out of magazines and papers that covered the auction, last year. In fact, that bit of information might qualify as a TTAC exclusive. I can not, however, reveal my source.

  • avatar
    mbz16V

    Hindsight is always 20-20, but I believe Mr. Martin should have considered his dedication to unbiased journalism before he became a paid spokesperson for B-J and Speed.

    Anyway, I look forward to reading Mr. Martin’s perspective about this tiff in the next SCM.

  • avatar
    Maxwelton

    I’m sure Mr. Martin is a stand-up guy, but the last time I picked up his publication I found myself wincing and felt foolish for parting with the cover price. I have zero, no, desire to read a column about “our cars” where the cars cost more than I’ll make in ten years and the owners could presumably keep me as a pet.

    Car publications in general suffer from this, TTAC not excepted (alas). Prices are bandied about like dropping $30K, $50K, or $100K on a car is no sweat. I don’t have a problem with people spending that…but couching huge prices in terms like “reasonable” and “modest” when they are in fact huge sums to most of us just make the writers and publishers look like jerks–to me, anyway. I think it was a $200K car described as “a bargain” in the last SCM I looked at that had me just shaking my head at how obscene such an observation was.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    There was, as I recall, one of the staff for Sports Car Market that had one car, as part of the “our cars” section; and it was a mid-1980s Volvo 245 (station wagon) with close to 200,000 miles on it. But other than that, I know what you mean Max. I like Keith Martin and he has always been fair to me. So admittedly, that colors my thinking. I personally find myself reading my Old Cars Weekly more often. Two weeks ago, it had a nice feature on the old MG Midget by Pat Foster, with nary a trace of the sarcasm one might find directed towards that particular car in SCM. But hey, you must at least like the “Affordable Classics” column by B. Mitchell Carlson (with a piece on the 1975-’76 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega in the February issue)? My personal favorite is the vintage motorcycle column by Paul Duchene, which has as many 1980s Japanese motorcycles as leaky old British machines.

  • avatar

    The best thing to do is to read both Old Cars Weekly and Sports Car Market and figure out for yourself what works best, in terms of what appeals to you most.


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