the view through the windshield car blog

2013 Scottsdale Auto Auction Madness (posted 1/22/13)

As usual, the various Arizona auctions were full of aging white dudes with lotsa money bidding up car prices toward the stratosphere.

RM Auctions sold 70 of 84 lots for a sell through rate of 83%. These sales represented a stunning $35.5 million, up from $25.7 million in 2012. Top seller was a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta 'Competizione' with coachwork by Scaglietti, which hammered down at $8.1 million.

Rounding out the top 10 sales list from RM are a 1967 Shelby 427 ‘Semi-Competition’ Cobra, which sold for $2,007,500; a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, which went under the gavel for $1,842,500; a 1938 Delahaye 135 MS Coupe, which brought $1,540,000; a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, which sold for $1,320,000; a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster, which finished at $1,320,000; a 2003 Ferrari Enzo, which brought $1,320,000; a 1954 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe, which sold for $1,017,500; a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Cabriolet, which went for $990,000 and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, which sold for $847,000.

Bonhams sold more than $12 million worth of cars at its second annual Scottsdale auction, topped by a 1972 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV that sold for $1,215,000. A 1930 Bugatti Type 46 Faux Cabriolet was gaveled for $951,000, while a 1968 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider went for $912,500. A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing sold for $896,000.

Two Lincolns at Bonhams' Scottsdale auction that had screen time in 'The Godfather' were sold without a reserve. So at the end of the day on Thursday, both went to new owners for a combined total of $120,750. The more prominent of the two, the 1941 Lincoln Continental that served as Sonny Corleone's car for the infamous, shoot-em-up toll booth scene, sold for $69,000, while the 1941 Lincoln Custom limousine used elsewhere in the film sold for $51,750. Both cars came from the collection of the late Eugene Beardslee.

Gooding & Co. sold a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spider for $8.25 million.

Barrett-Jackson's auction was televised. I recorded the three days of programming and watched most of it on super fast-forward because .... well ... how many overrestored Camaros, Shelby Mustangs, various Chevelles and other muscle cars can one bear to watch, anyway? I swear B-J auctioned more Shelby Mustangs than were actually manufactured.

Here are some of the offerings which crossed the block:

car blog The 'real' Batmobile, the one made from the 1955 Lincoln Futura showcar by California customizer George Barris, sold for $4.2 million plus fees - $4.62 million total. It was purchased by Arizona car collector Rick Champagne who plans to display it in the living room of his Ahwatukee Foothills house. He is the owner of Champagne Logistics, a trucking company in Tempe.

In the early 1960s, Barris purchased the Lincoln Futura from FoMoCo for $1. He later arranged to provide a memorable vehicle for Twentieth Century Fox's upcoming 'Batman' television show (POW! BIFF!) and customized the Futura, turning it into the iconic midnight-black and fluorescent-red-pinstriped Batmobile. Barris reshaped the hood, elongated the tailfins and fluted the ends of the fins to resemble bat wings. And the rest is history.

Barris held on to the Batmobile up until now, rarely missing an opportunity to promote the kitchy machine (and George Barris) over the last 45+ years. Ol' George got a remarkable return on his investment - better than any hedge fund. I once saw this Batmobile in person at Barris' shop on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood in the early 1970s.

Eighty-eight year-old 'King of the Kustomizers' Barris was at the auction in his trademark gold zip-up jacket and orange-tinted sunglasses. Inexplicably, Linda Vaughn - formerly Miss Hurst, now seventy-something - also appeared dressed as Catwoman. Sad.

The silver (with red leather interior and matching fitted luggage) 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing, originally owned by Clark Gable, went for $1,850,000.

Gable was a man's man and a real car guy. He owned three Duesies, including a 1935 Duesenberg Model JN convertible (Carole Lombard bought it for him as a gift), several Cadillacs, a Packard V12, one of the earliest Jaguar XK 120s, a Mercedes 300Sc Cabriolet and a Mercedes 300 SL during this lifetime. He owned three Duesenbergs. Many of his vehicles were custom-bodied.

A black 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 coupe also sold for $1,850,000.

A gold 1934 Murphy-bodied Duesenberg J long-wheelbase Beverly sedan sold for $1.3 million.

The big red Ghia-built 1958 Chrysler Diablo concept convertible, which was originally a retractable-roof fastback known as the Chrysler Dart when first constructed in 1956, was sold for $1,250,000. Four years ago, it failed to sell at $1.2 million.

A purple 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda convertible sold for an amazing $1.2 million. Maybe I should get my old Plymouth reappraised.

A rare 1949 Delahaye Type 175 Saoutchik Coupe de Ville brought $1.1 million:

A purple 1919 Pierce Arrow 66 A-4 touring car, bodied by Don Lee of Los Angeles and styled by Harley Earl which was owned by silent film star Fatty Arbuckle was sold for $1.1. million. My wife posed by this vehicle when it was on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum in 2010:

A red over black 1925 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A Corsica Boattail Speedster sold for $850,000.

A silver 1954 Packard Panther two-seater showcar, one of only four fiberglass examples made, brought down the gavel at $750,000.

A cream-colored 1955 Hudson Italia - one of only 25 built and bodied by Touring of Italy - was went for $360,000. During 2012 Monterey Week, RM Auctions sold one for $265,000:

A 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-32 sold for $325,000. It had been restored by Thornton Classics of Telford, PA - one of the nation's top restorers of GM muscle cars. (My wife used to live in Telford.) A dark blue (with white stripes) 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 convertible with the 455 cu.in. V8 sold for 'only' $125,000.

A black factory-supercharged 1957 Ford Skyliner retractable hardtop sold for $300,000.

A 1970 Plymouth 425 hp Hemi Cuda hardtop, in yellow with a black vinyl top, brought $250,000.

A colorful 1931 Ruxton sedan - painted like a Life Saver - sold for $250,000:

The stunning Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk, a one off roadster with retracting hardtop - loosely based on the lines of the 1939 La Salle and powered by a fuel injected and supercharged 556 hp Cadillac LSA engine through a 6-speed automatic transmission, sold for a remarkably reasonable $245,000.

A maroon 1956 Buick Super convertible with a red leather interior fetched $200,000. Not a top-of-the-line Roadmaster, mind you, just a Super.

A red 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air with the 409 engine sold for $187,000. The Beach Boys - now Beach Old Men - would be proud: "She's real fine ... my 409 ..."

A pale green 1954 Kaiser Darrin (the 'official' color name is Pine Tint) crossed the block for $180,000. I wonder if it's the one I saw stored inside a Butler building near Boise in 1980.

A black 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Siting Ray with the 425 horse/396 cu.in. engine went for $175,000.

A heavily customized 1956 Ford F-100 pickup went under the gavel for a surprisingly-high $160,000.

A 1971 Plymouth Barracuda hardtop - red with a black vinyl top sold for $140,000.

A gorgeous 1931 Auburn 8-98 boat tail speedster in pale yellow with maroon stripes was sold for a seeming pittance at $110,000.

A red 1969 Plymouth Road Runner hardtop sold for $100,000 - a lot of money for 'Meep, Meep!'

Charlie Ryan's one-of-a-kind, recently-restored Hot Rod Lincoln went under the auctioneer's gavel for a mere $97,000.

A very nice 1954 Packard Caribbean convertible sold for $95,000.

A triple-black 1958 Chevrolet Impala convertible with the big 348 cubic inch engine and Continental kit went for $95,000. A red '59 Chevrolet Impala convertible with a red interior and Continental kit sold for $70,000.

A stunning green 1948 Chrysler Town & Country woodie convertible crossed the gavel for $88,000. I seem to recall that T&C ragtops were selling for about the same price 30 years ago.

A maroon 1953 Buick Skylark convertible sold for $80,000.

A restored 1981 mustard yellow with white roof Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser fetched an astounding $80,000.

A really nice, gleaming red 1955 Cadillac Eldorado convertible sold for a bargain $66,000. Another '55 drop-top Eldo in a less flashy color sold for even less. I never thought that a Caddy Eldorado would sell for one-third the price of a '56 Buick Super ragtop. What is this world coming to?

Sammy Davis Jr.'s white '72 Stutz Blackhawk (with blue interior) went under the gavel for $47,300. Documented from new, the car is listed in the Stutz Registry and was stored in the Imperial Palace Auto Collection in Las Vegas for many years.

A rare 1942 pale yellow Crosley convertible sold for a reasonable $17,600 - a tiny price for a tiny car.

Overall, the six auctions sold 2,000 cars for more than $216 million, according old-car specialist Hagerty Insurance. That's up 17% from last year and is the first time Scottsdale auction sales have passed $200 million. The economy is slowly improving and car people are apparently in a spending mood.


copyright 2013 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


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The facts presented in this blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

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