This week, the deep-pocketed guys and girls of the car collecting world will descend upon the state of Arizona for the annual collector car auctions. From the televised glitz of Barrett-Jackson to the white-gloved stratosphere of RM Sotheby’s, there is something on the docket to fit everyone’s taste.
For years, I’d watch the events on television or follow the sale prices online with a certain amount of apoplexy. “They paid how much? For that?!?” I’d routinely fume, reliably waking my spouse and buying myself yet another night in the guest room.
A couple of years ago, though, I had a minor revelation.
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.
It seems that I have much to learn about the classic car auction scene. A yearly January couch session with beer and remote in hand is clearly not enough to understand how cars go under the gavel. Depending on how I feel like keeping score, I’ve slipped well below the Mendoza line in my two short weeks handicapping vintage auto sales.
Fortunately, I have another chance for redemption this weekend. Once again, Mecum is doing the selling, this time in sunny Anaheim, California. I’m now seriously regretting not flying west to cover this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.
Well, that didn’t go as planned. Though, working from a baseball analogy, batting .250 isn’t too bad. More on last week’s picks later — on to the new stuff in sunny Florida!
For years, Carlisle has been shorthand for a series of massive swap meets in a central Pennsylvania town. I’ve not had the pleasure of a Carlisle event yet, but I’m imagining a million-acre orgy of rusty cars and parts. In other words, heaven.
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.
The last car the King of Cool custom-ordered will be up for sale next month in Monterey, California.
Mecum Auctions (via Autoblog) details the 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera (sold here with the internal type number — 930 — in its name) that McQueen ordered shortly before he died. The 3.0-liter, air-cooled turbo 911 will be sold for charity, with proceeds going to Boys Republic, a nonprofit school for at-risk teenagers in Chino Hills, California.
According to Mecum, the car was fitted with a switch to kill the rear lights if McQueen was being chased down Mulholland. That’s so cool.
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