Across The Block: Mecum Auctions, Dallas
I have a sickness. I can’t stop shopping for classic cars I’ve no hope of buying. While I’ve been shopping eBay, Craigslist, various forums, and other classic sites over the years, I’ve never spent much time looking at auctions. The prices seem inflated — especially when the auction house’s cut is considered.
But perhaps that’s a good thing. Private party sales via classifieds introduce a significant element of risk, either via outright fraud or the natural problems of handing over either a title or a wad of cash to an outright stranger. Classic car auctions are appealing since there is a nominally neutral third-party involved in the transaction.
So, I’ve decided to virtually wade into the crowd and see what’s coming Across The Block. In an occasional series, I’ll pick out several interesting cars coming up for auction that weekend, discuss them briefly, and make wild guesses to their eventual hammer price.
By “interesting” I mean I’ll be looking beyond the usual Corvette, Mustang, Challenger, and Tri-Five Chevy that seem to make up many cars at these auctions. I’m not saying they aren’t cool, but how many “re-creations” of a GT350-H do we really want to see every January?
Following the close of the auction, I’ll be back with the final sale price of each of these cars so we can all point and laugh at how pathetic my estimates were.
See, I don’t hate muscle cars … I just prefer cars that aren’t particularly mainstream. AMC is definitely not mainstream. With a proper racing pedigree, the Javelin is one of my favorites of the era. This one’s been restored to showroom condition — and magnificently so. The “Big Bad” in the name means it came with a bunch of appearance bits, including the funky rooftop spoiler and the faux sidepipes. The 390ci V8 backed up by a heavy-duty Borg-Warner automatic should prove stout off the line.
Mecum estimate: $50,000–75,000
My guess: $30,000
It may be one of the nicest street Javelins around, but these just don’t seem to fetch big money like muscle and pony cars from the Big Three. I’d love to be proven wrong.
The Tiger is fast becoming a hot collector car. Between the undeniable Shelby cachet and the sleeper performance afforded by the Ford V8 under the hood of a lightweight roadster, it’s not surprising fanatics are warming to Sunbeam’s last real sports car.
This just isn’t the one I’d buy. It looks good, but it’s been over restored. The wheels and tires are improperly sized; while Minilites (and similar wheels) are always appropriate on something old and British, the tall sidewalls and raised-white-letter BFG tires just look wrong here. The small diameter wooden steering wheel is similarly out-of-place. While these can be changed, the original engine is gone, too, replaced by a Ford 302 crate motor. It nearly doubles the horsepower from the original 260ci V8, but originality is important when playing in this market.
Mecum estimate: $100,000-125,000
My guess: $45,000
Fun fact: I was briefly an Elvis impersonator! Though, that’s mostly because while I was the first in my high-school class to be able to grow significant facial hair. It would only come in nicely in my sideburns, so I went with it. I had my mom sew me a fat, Vegas-era, white polyester jumpsuit with a gold lamé cape and everything for my freshman Halloween party, too. Good times.
Anyhow, I mention this as Elvis was the very first owner of a pimptastic Stutz Blackhawk, a Grand Prix-based luxury car just perfect for the ’70s. Not this one, mind you — Elvis owned a ’70, while this black and orange model is from 1972. It continued in very limited production until the late ’80s. The bodywork was built by various Italian coachbuilders and the interior was endlessly customizable. It’s a testament to glorious excess.
Mecum estimate: $45,000–55,000
My guess: $22,000
It’s an expensively built car, certainly, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good car. If it were a celebrity-owned example, maybe I could see it pulling big bucks.
Air-cooled Volkswagens aren’t my thing. I don’t know why, but I’ve never felt the attraction to these enjoyed by my many fellow gearheads. They just seem slow.
But I love wagons.
And while I’d never surf, I love the look of this custom, surf-ready Squareback. It’s simple, ratty, and absolutely glorious. The tires are mismatched … I don’t know if I dig that. The flat black paint is rough in spots, too, but that’s the appeal.
Mecum estimate: $7,000–8,000
My guess: $12,000
I’m thinking there will be at least two buyers who tire of the endless muscle cars, and want to buy something cheap and fun. It’s being sold with no reserve, though..so someone could make out with a deal.
So, check back next week, and we will see how poor my guesses are!
[Images: Mecum Auction, Inc.]
Chris Tonn is the Large Editor at Large for Car Of The Day, a classic-car focused site highlighting cool and unusual finds.
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