By on January 20, 2020

Barrett-Jackson, Scottsdale Arizona

It’s no secret that wherever enthusiasts — of any person, place, or thing — get together, mad money soon follows. Look at the huge money being commanded for certain rock n’ roll memorabilia, or rare artwork by a noted painter. Your author just bid obscene money for a frame containing handwritten liner notes, a platinum record, and a picture signed by some famous Canadian musicians. My bank account weeps but my office walls are happy.

It is the same, of course, with cars. Some recent models have skyrocketed in value, while a few others have traded on famous names. What’s been your biggest surprise of late?

On Saturday, I watched someone at Barrett-Jackson pay $300,000 for a BMW M3 Lightweight. With a carbon copy currently on Bring-a-Trailer for fifty grand, it was clear the Paul Walker connection commands a hefty premium. Other examples sold for similar cheddar. BMW never disclosed how many of the things it built, but consensus puts it around 125 units.

If that number is even close to correct, the half dozen or so that popped up this week at Barrett-Jackson and Bring-a-Trailer represent about 5 percent of total production. To put that in perspective, there would have to be over a million original VW Bugs for sale simultaneously to equal roughly the same percentage of vehicles built.

Supras also bring jaw-dropping money, of course. It’s not limited to the A80 series, either. A low mile (<100) A70 sold at Barrett-Jackson this year for $80k. Even considering the sometimes inflated values cars bring at that soireé (thanks to the party-like atmosphere), that’s still a remarkable amount.

What sale prices have raised your eyebrows lately? Comment below.

[Image: © 2020 Matthew Guy/TTAC]

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51 Comments on “QOTD: Big Bucks Surprise?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    OMG, any mid-60s plain Jane American car that could be had with a V8 have all been declared “muscle cars” and are commanding prices in the $50-60K range. Ridiculous!

  • avatar
    Jon

    All K5’s, K10’s, and K30’s listed on craigslist.
    New trucks.
    New Wranglers.
    Honorable mention: Anything that begins with “T” and ends with “ota”.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      I’m genuinely curious what you think new trucks and Wranglers should cost, given that base models of both are easily found in the mid $20s.

      More luxurious trims have been added but that doesn’t mean the cheap ones went away.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        Maybe i packaged my statement incorrectly. Its not about what they “should” cost. Generally speaking; the problem is largely that they cannot be found and sometimes cannot be ordered. If they are found or can be ordered, the price is greatly inflated

        If i have to order one, salesmen are usually unwilling to take the time to order a model that they will make little money on. They would rather take the time to upsell me a much more expensive truck that they have in stock.

        If they decide to help me order one or maaaaaybe even have one in stock, they generally refuse to sell it for less than MSRP and sometimes even mark it up. They also claim that the current discounts/promotions do not apply on “special orders” thus increasing the price even more. Then they point to the high price and again try to upsell me on one of the in stock upscale models, noting the small difference in price between the two.

        My experience is that the salesmen know that i want a niche item and will charge me accordingly, thus inflating the price of a base model.

        If you know of a GM dealer located in the southwest or midwest that will not do any of the above, I would appreciate their contact information.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          My experience with factory ordering a truck (albeit a Ford) was that all manufacturer incentives apply, and that they gave me the same percentage below invoice that they would have for a truck in stock.

          Perhaps GM is different but some dealership should eventually figure out that a factory order is an easy sale with little work and no floorplan expense for them, regardless of how well optioned the truck is.

          I’ve never ordered a vehicle from them and they are not local to me, but Ed Koehn Chevrolet in Rockford, MI treated me very fairly and honestly when I bought my SS from them (as an out of town buyer) and I try to pass the word along. They might be worth trying if you were serious.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Many Ram dealers in Florida were extremely unwilling to do a custom order truck circa 2016. What Jon is writing is pretty much what my father experienced.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            I am no longer actively looking but i will file Ed Koehn into my ledger for when i am looking.

            I think the problem was 90% GM’s fault and 10% the dealers fault. While it is possible to order a truck the way i want it, I suspect that they make it very difficult and expensive for the dealer to do so.

            Ive been a GM guy since the 90’s due to their simplicity and my knowledge of GM repairs. But with all the new standard tech in new vehicles, nothing is as simple as it used to be and most new trucks are (more) equally complicated. Repairs are less frequently performed by myself and more frequently performed by a shop. Maybe its time to switch brands to whoever will order it the way i want it.

          • 0 avatar
            ptschett

            I never had the slightest push-back ordering my Dakota in 2005, 2nd Challenger in 2015 or my 2017 Ram 1500, and they were all on a x%-below-invoice deal (recent college graduate for the Dakota, affiliate-company employee pricing on the newer ones.) For the Challenger and Ram they did do a search to see if there was something close enough to my options already in stock somewhere within the region, which is fair enough.

            The only time I meant to order and was persuaded out of it was on my 1st Challenger – where they had a car close to what I wanted already on the lot, the order books were about to switch to the next model year, it was the end of the month, and they still needed to sell 20 more cars to get to the next threshold for some incentive from Chrysler.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    I’m still amazed by the amount of money some of the VW buses bring. Surprisingly, on Wednesday and Thursday there were some “bargains”. Some of the older custom cars were bringing prices that was far below the money required to build it initially.

    Also, the trend toward customization over originality on older cars, particularly Corvettes, continues unabated. Twenty years ago, it would have been unheard of to modify 1957-1967 Corvettes as all the money was in maintaining stock configuration. But now, the customs are bringing more than stock cars by a wide margin. There is still a place/demand for low mileage, original/rare cars. But it appears the money is in customizing the base cars or those without some kind of rare pedigree.

    Muscle cars in general have softened quiet a bit in the last 5-10 years leaving only the super rare still commanding top dollar. I look for this trend to continue. Trucks, on the other hand, continue to skyrocket.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Someone paying $70,000 for a new Range Rover Evoque convertible is more ridiculous to me than any classic car valuation.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      +100

      All of these new age minivans commanding $50k+ new while still holding a 4 or 6 cyl in the front are laughable. As crazy as a $40k 1976 IH Scout sounds, it’s much more palpable than the minivans selling for ridiculous amounts.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I am so with you on this Jack4x. I do a mental head slap everyone I see a happy tag on a new RR or LR of any kind. So much $$ wasted. I would so much rather have a classic in the garage then pay 2k a month lease on a 100k Rover that has a 33% residual in 3 years. But, hey your money spend it as you please.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    All of them.

    These figures point out the vast divide between the haves and the have-nots in this country. Joe Average is scraping to make payments on his second-hand pickup, while Joe Moneybags can spend $80k on an old Supra without batting an eye.

    • 0 avatar
      Robotdawn

      I don’t think you are Joe Average if you are scraping to make payments on second hand pickup. Not in this economy. If you are, you need to re-evaluate your skill-set choices.

      There are plenty of people in this situation, sure. But they aren’t average, they are well below average, or very young.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      Is there something wrong with there co-existing “haves” and “have-nots”?

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I guess I don’t get what you are getting at. Not everyone at Barrett is the uber rich. Yes, to be a valid buyer you have to be doing well enough, no doubt. But, if you are a car nerd and want something fun that most likely will not depreciate like a BMW you can find a lot of decent stuff at these auctions. Not all of them sell for 100k, most are 20-40k cars, if you know what to look for in an old car, there are a lot of values at Barrett. Keep in mind Friday and Saturday are the big money cars, plenty of cool stuff sold for average Joe 2nd car in the garage dollars Monday – Thursday.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I only watched only a couple of hours of the B-J auction (last night), and the impression I came away with was that prices are down.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    Smarter to bid big on the Canadian musicians’ stuff. Especially if they just lost their drummer. RIP Neil!

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Full disclosure I am total nerd for this stuff! I do not watch the auctions but log in daily during the Mecum and Barrett auctions to see current hammer prices, or not in the case of the Mecum auctions.

    My findings:
    70’s Bronco with a drop in Coyote or similar FI drivetrain and you have a 50k + rig.

    Square Body trucks and K5’s are the next to pop in value, you could argue they already have.

    Tri 5 Chevy: (I own a resto-mod LS 57′) Shockingly these have come up in value. I figured these were done, but several examples brought north of 100k. Does not hurt my feelings any as an owner of one.

    Hemi Mopars or Mopar of any kind really: Oof, your getting clobbered, sans the 69′ and 70′ Road Runner and Super Birds they still command 100k or better.

    50’s and 60’s Vettes: I too figured the Art Morrison swap would run its course. I was wrong. My theory, and I could be completely wrong, is that folks who can afford a bespoke automobile (think Lamborghini, Ferrari etc) are tired of the cliche or douche label that comes with those cars along with the ownership headaches in some cases. A custom built Vette with a LS3 or LT1 (new version) on an Art Morrison chassis can be quite appealing. You get iconic good looks, performance, handling, AND reliability along with the ease of knowing that any Chevrolet dealer in the country or good to better mechanic can trouble shoot and repair issues as they arise. Even the Uber-wealthy like simplicity and ease of ownership.

    The C10 pickup has run its course for the most part. Regardless of your drivetrain you have a 35-50k truck. Probably time to stop cutting up long beds and making them shorties.

    50’s Pickups: A lot of them out there for sale now. Some really nice examples, see the C10 though. These, I think, have plateaued as well.

    80’s Fords and Chevies (square body especially) will be the resto-mod fodder in the coming years is my speculation.

    • 0 avatar
      monkeydelmagico

      +1 on the mopars. Hellcat or Demon esp “widebody” anything. Ridiculous.

      VW anything is the automotive opposite of mopar but is also commanding insane prices.

      The muscle cars and pony cars days are numbered. Once the boomers die off nobody is going to want them. Model T anyone? How about a cheap gasser?

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “The muscle cars and pony cars days are numbered. Once the boomers die off nobody is going to want them”

        I really don’t this will happen. There will be a value drop, but it won’t be as extreme as many are predicting. I won’t be able to get a good condition GTO for $13K.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        Several Vipers over $200K as well.

        • 0 avatar
          87 Morgan

          Yes, the Vipers did well, my apologies for omitting them.

          I do not foresee values dropping to ‘worthless’ or pennies on the dollar. I think they will come down, but I still see plenty of young folks at C&C or Saturday morning car meet of your choice. Lots of talented builders out there. Dude shows up to the one I go to with a Volvo 240 Wagon…running a 75mm Turbo on a junkyard 6.0. Car does not look great, but some serious fabrication talent to get that boat to run sub 11’s. For now, they are hampered on the availability of dollars to start with something of value of out of the gate. As they get older, they will be able to afford to start with a nicer package.

  • avatar
    ajla

    0. While 60s muscle car prices are off their loftiest peaks, they still go for money that requires a decent level of excess cash (like at least over $30K). Even without Boomers around I don’t think they’ll ever reach “just an old car” status while I’m alive.

    1. Malaise Era F-bodies have gone up in the last decade while Malaise Era Corvettes have stayed steady or dropped slightly.

    2. 70s and 80s “exotics” have been going way up in value. The ability to buy a 308QV or Merak for $30K or lower is pretty much gone.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    @87 Morgan

    Agree with your assessment, especially the square body trucks and associated Broncos/Blazers. I would add second generation F-body (Camaro/Firebird) as far as cars gaining traction. Fox body mustangs appear to be gaining as well.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      Holy smokes, did you see the hammer price for the two red Cobra R’s? Both north of 100k granted they were new in the wrapper 300 mile cars, but wow that is serious dough for a Fox body Mustang.

      I was surprised, a really nice 33k or so mile notch fox body in white, unmolested, sold for 24k. Total steal. I would DD that car all day long.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I own a Fox Mustang. ’91 GT Convert, 5-speed, triple white w/red accents, 30,000 miles, mint. I’ll be smiling broadly if I get $24K for it this spring when I put it you for sale….I paid $7k for it 8 years ago and have put less than a grand into it.
        They have risen very nicely over the last 5-6 years.

      • 0 avatar
        56BelAire

        I own a Fox Mustang. ’91 GT Convert, 5-speed, triple white w/red accents, 30,000 miles, mint. I’ll be smiling broadly if I get $24K for it this spring when I put it up for sale….I paid $7k for it 8 years ago and have put less than a grand into it.
        They have risen very nicely over the last 5-6 years.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    1. It seems likely that there are now more Chevelles on the road with LS motors than the motors they were actually available with.

    2. I need to buy my E36 M3 now as they are going to be beyond my reach in the future. I can do a 4 door and keep the cost down I suppose.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Porsche 914’s. Even in 2016 they were not widely sought after. Now anything air-cooled is going up in price. The 914 was derided as a VW (which it was supposed to be) when it was first available and it had the same engine as a Type IV VW.

    Heck even Karmann Ghias are going up considerably in price.

  • avatar
    Fred

    There were some deals at least comparatively, El Caminos seemed reasonable compared to pickup trucks. Mustangs that weren’t associated with Shelby seemed fair. GTOs were a deal compared to Chevy SS

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I hope regular mid-80s BMW e28s soon follow the ridiculous upward pricing trajectory of e28 M5s…..

  • avatar
    islander800

    As a long-time Corvair fan, I was a bit disillusioned to see a run-of-the-mill 2nd gen convertible with just the two-carb 110 hp go for $16K and a first-gen rampside go for $24K early in the week at B-J. A second-gen Corsa with four-carb or turbo, perhaps, but a standard 110 hp version? These used to be the absolute best bargain of collector cars but I guess now the aura of air-cooled Porsches has spilled over into Corvair territory…

  • avatar
    NeilM

    How about the Paul Walker/Fast & Furious M3 collection just sold at auction?

    Lot 1371: M3 LTW, $350,000
    Lot 1371.1 E30 M3, $200,000
    Lot 1372: M3 LTW, $200,000
    Lot 1372.1: M3 LTW, $220,000
    Lot 1373: M3 LTW, $235,000
    Lot 1373.1: M3 LTW (No graphics/wing), $200,000
    Lot 1374 88 E30 M3, $150,000

    If that’s not craziness, I don’t know what would be.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I only really caught a few of the sales on Saturday. It was surprising, in a not terribly surprising way, that the 001 C8 Corvette went for $3,000,000 in about 30 seconds.

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I’m lucky that nobody really likes the cars I like enough to collect them and drive up demand, which drives up prices. Very few people are looking for K-cars and its variants (H, J, EEK, etc.), LH cars, etc.

    I have two fully restored early-90s Chryslers — a 1991 LeBaron and a 1993 Concorde — which were cheap to buy and cheap to restore to factory condition. I’m in on less than $10k for both, the majority of the cost going towards parts, refurbishing the interior and exterior, and overhauling the mechanicals.

    I’d love to add a third, like an H-body LeBaron GTS, but I don’t have anymore garage space.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Continue to be surprised by the values some ’70s land yachts are pulling. As cars they are the worst of all worlds, but there are some people out there who just love the peak brougham look.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    For me, it’s the E36 M3s – the ones on BaT are going to nonsense money. Granted they are likely the best of the best, but they are still 23 year old BMWs. I drove one for a few days back in 2004. It was ok, I remember not being terribly impressed though I was only driving it to and from work. For the money, there is no shortage of other cars I would seek out.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    The “Greatful Dead” 1949 (year I was born) Studebaker M5 pick up truck sold for $30k, who’s buying junk like this, do ya think it will appreciate in value or fall apart soon? Maybe cut it up and hang the pieces on a wall, some schmuck will pay big bucks if you call it art!
    https://barrett-jackson.com/Events/Event/Details/1949-STUDEBAKER-M5-TRUCK-GRATEFUL-DEAD-233868

  • avatar
    silverfin

    I am amazed at how much Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40s go for now. Restored by companies specializing in them they can go for 45k+! I guess the alternative is a new Jeep Wrangler for about the same money with Chrysler’s crappy build quality. Years ago in Anchorage I bought a 1978 FJ40 for $1,800 and it could go anywhere….much tougher than the cheaply built and fragile Jeeps. Wish I still had it.

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