Surprises (good and bad) we saw at Arizona Auction Week 2020

Classics, Vipers sell strongly, but 911s and E-types, not so much

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This 1992 Dodge Viper sold for $285,000 at Bonhams' recent Arizona auction. The price was $100,000 more than the optimistic pre-auction estimate, but considering the car originally was owned by the late Lee Iacocca, and adding in the recent surge in Viper values, the price seems rational | Andy Reid photo

The recently completed Arizona Auction Week 2020 saw some weaknesses and also some surprising strengths in the collector car market.

Prior to auction week, I fully expected American classics, and especially those from the pre-war era, to take a serious dive. No one was more surprised than I was when I saw the Tucker at Gooding & Company sell for $2.04 million and the 1930 Cadillac V-16 Sport Phaeton by Fleetwood going for $1.105 million at RM Sotheby’s. Very strong prices, indeed.

The losers in this segment this year were woodies, with 2 spectacular examples, a 1947 Ford Deluxe selling for under its estimate and ta  very rare 1948 Ford Marmon Harrington failing to meet its reserve with a high bid of only $170,000. 

In an era in which American classics are supposedly losing interest, this 1948 Tucker 48 sold for a very strong $2.04 million at Gooding & Company | Bob Golfen photo

Another surprise, though a pleasant one, was the market for the Dodge Viper. The best example, car No. 1 and owned from new by the late Lee Iacocca, sold at Bonhams for a staggering (but I still feel fair) $285,500 or more than $100,000 higher than the pre-sale estimate. In fact, all Vipers performed exceedingly well with not a single car selling for less than $40,000 regardless of mileage or condition. 

This is a car that if you want one you should buy immediately.

Other strong performers were the 2005-06 Ford GT, which are again on the move price wise. What does baffle me, however, is the million-dollar prices achieved by the new Ford GT. To me ,these cars are having their day in the sun but I would not expect the new Ford GT to continue to be a million-dollar seller. They just don’t have what they need to have to be a car that costs this much. 

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Perhaps reality will set in when we seeing the new mid-engine C8-generation Chevrolet Corvette on the roads.

Weaker parts of the market were marked by the continued slide of early Porsche 911s, with a number of cars selling for under reasonable sounding estimates.

Early Jaguar E-types have been a mainstay with car collectors, but prices in Arizona fell below expectations | Andy Reid photo

Other somewhat surprising problem areas were with early Jaguar E-types. We saw a pair of flat-floor, welded-louver, side-bonnet latch examples sell for $268,800 at Gooding against a low estimate of $275,000 and RM had another sell at $156,800 against a $225,000 low estimate. These early cars are the most rare of all the E-type roadsters, with only 385 built, and the prices paid in Arizona represent a serious decrease in their values.

Other weak performers all week were classic sports cars valued at more than a million dollars. Many of these struggled to sell and only the very best examples went to new owners.

In a nutshell, the market looks to be moving away from a speculative environment and more into an enthusiast-driven space. To me, this is a good thing as a market driven by true enthusiasts tends to be a more stable one.

I”m already looking forward to seeing the results from Retromobile week in Paris and from the auctions at Amelia Island to see if the the trends that emerged in Arizona continue. In a couple of months we should know if we are, indeed, in a more stable and more buyer-friendly market.

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Vipers never appealed because the name is juvenile. Not sure when Lee Iacocca died but I doubt he could get in the car, much less drive it. Surreal selling price.

  2. Pretty surprising for a Viper; even with the Iacocca connection. I’m sure most millennials would not be impressed by that…let alone Boomers.

  3. Andy we ran our 930 Turbo and several other turbos ran I noticed a wide range of values and estimates vs bid prices way off, What are your thoughts on the Porsche Market

  4. Again talk about surprises…..Why no mention of the record breaking sale of a 1965 Lincoln Continental Convertible for $330,000. ???

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