HomeThe MarketAmerican classics span generations at Arizona auctions

American classics span generations at Arizona auctions


One in a series of previews for the 2015 Arizona classic car auctions

Which is more classically American, a pre-war and V16-powered Cadillac or a fuel-injected and split-windowed 1963 Chevrolet Corvette? What about an Auburn boattail speedster vs. a Hemi ‘Cuda?

Our point is that regardless of any formal car-club definitions, each of those four cars is classically American. And more to the point, each is available for bidding next week at the Arizona classic and collector car auctions, which is our way of pointing out that today we are highlighting some of the classically American cars being offered at those auctions.

So far in this series we have focused on Ferraris, on cars from Japan, on cars by Carroll Shelby, trucks and buses, and cars from Europe. But with the auctions just around the corner, today we’re tackling made-in-the-U-S-of-A machines, and we conclude this series tomorrow with racing cars and what we’re calling “oddities,” for lack of a more unifying description.

1913 Regal displays sporty "Underslung" stance | Robin Adams photo for RM
1913 Regal displays sporty “Underslung” stance | Robin Adams photo for RM

Pre-war American classics

Among cars a century old, RM offers a 1913 Regal Model N “Underslung” roadster (Lot 231) that used to reside in the Henry Ford Museum, and Bonhams has (Lot 131) a 1914 American Underslung 646 5-passenger touring that used to be part of the William Harrah collection. (Underslung cars had their frame rails below the axles, which gave them a more sporty stance than other cars of the era.)

Moving to the Roaring ‘20s, Bonhams has a 1926 Kissel 6-55 Gold Bug speedster (Lot 124), and Gooding has a 1928 Stutz Model BB 4-passenger speedster (Lot 140).

Despite the Depression, the 1930s were the golden age of American classic cars. The only Duisenberg SJ we found in our paging through catalogs and clicking through auction websites was a 1935 SJ dual cowl phaeton at Barrett-Jackson (Lot 5078) that originally was Duesenberg president Lucius Manning’s company car.

However, there are 1930s Packards and Cadillacs aplenty, several as part of Barrett-Jackson’s Showcase Series 5000 lineup, including a 1930 Cadillac V16 Landaulette De Luxe (Lot 5082), formerly owned by the Queen of Netherlands and brewer Arthur Guinness, and, at RM a 1931 Cadillac V16 roadster (Lot 113).

Barrett-Jackson also has a 1933 Packard 1005 V12 sedan convertible that is one of 14 built and among only seven that remain. RM has a 1932 Packard Deluxe Eight individual custom sport phaeton (Lot 246) that is one of two and was part of both the Otis Chandler and Lyon family collections.

Also at RM is a 1932 Hupmobile 1 226 eight coupe (Lot 155) in red that is the last surviving version with cycle fenders and formerly part of the Harrah collection.

'59 Caddy is mid-century American classic | Barrett-Jackson photo
’59 Caddy is mid-century American classic | Barrett-Jackson photo

Post-war American classics

Bonhams offers a 1946 Cadillac Series 62 convertible (Lot 104) and there are plenty of finned 1950s classics available, including a 1955 Chrysler C-300 (RM Lot 145), a 1956 DeSoto Adventurer (RM Lot 120) and a 1957 Chrysler Saratoga (RM Lot 106). Barrett-Jackson has the ultimate in big-finned cars from the ’50s, a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible (Lot 5095).

Meanwhile, Mitch Silver is offering the 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Deluxe his father bought new in 1958, and the Silver docket also includes a 1956 DeSoto Firedome and 1957 Dodge Custom Royal.

Think 1960s and Gooding & Company and you probably picture Ferraris and such, but Gooding’s Arizona catalog includes a 1964 Pontiac GTO convertible (Lot 129), 1967 and 1968 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaros (Lots 146 and 147) and a seemingly rare, V8-powered 1964 Pontiac Tempest station wagon (Lot 159).

So that brings us to the 1970s and muscle car mania: Russo and Steele has 1970 (Lot 2525) and ’71 (Lot 2114) Plymouth Hemi Cudas, a 1970 Plymouth Superbird (Lot 2075) and 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 (Lot 2074). Gooding has a ’70 Boss 429 (Lot 52) that was owned by its original owner until 2010. RM has a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS LS6 convertible (Lot 148).

And Barrett-Jackson has a ’69 Boss 429 (Lot 2518), ’70 Plymouth Superbird (Lot 2520) and Hemi ‘Cuda (Lot 2522), and ’71 Hemi ‘Cuda (Lot 2519) — all from the Ron Pratte collection — as well as a 1970 Chevelle SS LS6 convertible (Lot 5011), a pair of ’70 Superbirds (Lots 5014 and 5065), and a ’70 Dodge Hemi Challenger (Lot 5015).

Ford GT is contemporary American classic | Russo and Steele photo
Ford GT is contemporary American classic | Russo and Steele photo

Contemporary American classics

The hot contemporary American collectible is the Ford GT, and prices have been escalating quickly. Several are available at the Arizona auctions, including — at Barrett-Jackson — Lot 2508, a 2005 (Serial No. 0003) in Quicksilver, Lot 5066, also in silver, and Lot 5072.1, a 2006 Heritage Edition and — at Russo and Steele — Lot 2400, a 2005 in silver.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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