Across The Block Spotlight: 1982 Phillips Berlina At Mecum Kansas City

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
across the block spotlight 1982 phillips berlina at mecum kansas city

It seems that I’m not good at handicapping auctions. I’m sure it’s a skill that can be acquired through practice and repetition. But between the drudgery of a day job and wrangling a pair of kids, in-depth sales analysis will always get pushed to the back burner.

Still, exploring a single interesting car is never a problem. Maybe call it a Digestible Auctionable?

As I digitally strolled through the over six hundred lots offered this weekend at Mecum’s Kansas City sale, today’s 1982 Phillips Berlina stopped me cold, returning me to my teenage years and, of all things, my cheap toy-store mountain bike.

I rode that thing everywhere. As a socially incompetent fat kid, much of my spare time was dedicated to seeking distraction. My trips to Dairy Queen, the convenience store, and the library followed a path that took me past decaying cars I dreamed of owning. The rotting Austin 1100 and sagging Triumph TR7 were fine dreams of their own, but one seemingly abandoned fast-lube garage always had a white classic peeking through a glass workbay door.

I always assumed it was an Excalibur, or perhaps a Zimmer — the only neo-classics I knew of in those pre-Web days — but I’m thinking now that it was a Phillips Berlina like this one. Nostalgia is a helluva drug, which explains this car, as well as my immediate attraction.

According to the defunct-but-Wayback-Machine-accessible, Phillips Motor Car of Pompano Beach, Florida built these Berlinas, inspired by prewar Mercedes-Benz 540Ks. Built on a stretched version of the then-current Corvette C3 chassis and wearing a retro fiberglass body, the Berlina was a $80,000 car at a time when a new ‘Vette stickered around $20,000. Unsurprisingly, fewer than 90 were sold.

This one wears a magnificent two-tone brown finish (hi, Sajeev!), and looks basically new on the outside. The leather interior, mostly borrowed from the Corvette, looks similarly clean, though the deep-pile carpets look discolored. If one were so inclined to drive it often, it shouldn’t be a challenge to keep running considering the readily available GM running gear.

Indeed, this is a car to drive, and to be seen in. No, it’s not for me. Twelve year old me, maybe.

I don’t know that I can even hazard an intelligent guess on the Phillips Berlina. Do I price it like the Corvette underneath? Or base it off the original MSRP? Mecum doesn’t list an estimate, so I’m completely in the dark. Let’s say $55,000. It’s not like I have anything riding on it.

Last Week’s Results

Utter crap.

Seriously, this makes me wonder why I’m even doing this. It doesn’t help when the RM estimate in three of the four examples I chose was less than half the eventual selling price. Did a pair of recent lottery winners descend upon Milan with a massive car hauler?

1986 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

RM estimate: 10,000-12,000 EUR

My guess: 14,000 EUR

Selling price: 26,880 EUR

1990 March 90C-Alfa Romeo

RM estimate: 20,000-30,000 EUR

My guess: 45,000 EUR

Selling price 95,200 EUR

1970 Lancia Fulvia 1.6HF

RM estimate: 35,000-40,000 EUR

My guess: 30,000 EUR

Selling price: 63,840 EUR

1991 Pontiac Transport

RM estimate: 1,500-3,000 EUR

My guess: 400 EUR and/or a wheel of cheese

Selling price: 2,240 EUR

So, thoughts on this funky fiberglass retro beast? Would you drive it?

[Images: Mecum Auction, Inc.]

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  • Russycle Russycle on Dec 01, 2016

    In college I had a friend whose dad had an Excalibur. It was something to behold. He bought his kids had a 4-speed TransAm and a Corvette, so he had that going for him.

  • LTDwedge LTDwedge on Dec 04, 2016

    Had a "boss" audition once ; he pointed me in the direction of a pseudoItalianboathullfiberglaswired"vehicle" . Inconveniant indoor parked "car", NO lift, good luck newbie. From what I could tell, the chalk red dust was a true predictor of the not so far future, that THIS kit car,, was never going to "reanimate". The implication was it was supposed to be British, the valve covers were in a Chevrolet style that had been radical in th 50's, made of the finest white metal castings that the James Dean could sell. Wiring and wires hung with impervious disdain from dark recesses of wheel wells, cowls, plastic/resin door "jambs", and where a trunk/hatch might rationally be located, more wires. No sense of wtf happened to the donor car or even WHAT it was. I spent 10 minutes of my life knowing, to my core, this was never going to happen or happen to me again. No, I opened my own shop shortly afterwards instead. That was 1985. The owner of the chalk red British l roadster also owned the shop wanted the car fixed for free. 30 years fast forward, its still sitting.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.