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April Month in Motoring

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“What is happening to the collector car market?” This is a question that many asked after looking at the results of several auctions. In addition to the annual Barrett Jackson Palm Beach sale, Worldwide Auctions also held its annual April sale. Perhaps the most interesting, though, was the continued liquidation of the Mullin Collection in Oxnard, California. Known best for its French car focus dating back to 1900, the results of the liquidation surprised many given the Mullin Collection’s specific focus.  

Barrett Jackson Palm Beach Sale

Taking a deep dive into the cars offered at Barrett Jackson, it is clear that the collector car marketplace is serious about late-model cars from the 80’s and 90’s. Like every collector generation before, seeing vehicles many of us grew up with in high school hitting the auction block can be hard to swallow. Looking back to car club publications from the 1950s and 60s, many had the same feelings for many common cars from the 30s and 40s that were just seen as “old” cars. If you understand the history of car collecting, this is where auctions like Barrett Jackson can present some prime opportunities.  

1990 Corvette ZR1

One example would be a 1990 Corvette ZR1, which sold for $31,000. A low-production Corvette that set the standard for performance for high-performance cars, it might have been one of the best buys of the sale if you think longer term. One of the issues may have been that it had a minor accident listed on the Carfax report. When you look at historic cars from the 1960s, such as the Ferrari, that were rebuilt after major accidents to bring millions of dollars today, accident repair is forgiven at some point.  

That could be a valuable takeaway: for the right price, don’t be afraid of investing in special cars that may have suffered some damage.

1990 Toyota Tacoma 

Along with the Corvette ZR1, a 1990 Toyota Tacoma extended cab pickup also hit the block.  With just over 100,000 miles, the truck was in excellent shape. Selling for just under $9,000, this Toyota again shows the changing of the collector car marketplace and, once again, may present an opportunity. Most of these trucks were driven until the wheels fell off. When was the last time you saw one? Also, many people have fond memories of Toyota pickups from their high school days. Everyone remembers the DeLorean from Back to the Future, but Marty’s favorite vehicle was his Toyota pickup in the garage.   

Prices will take off as new collectors enter the marketplace and combine memories with income. Trucks like this Toyota will benefit from the increased demand and the limited supply.  

Worldwide Auctioneers

Worldwide Auctioneers held an enthusiast auction at its headquarters in Auburn, Indiana. Heavy on true classic cars, it is the type of sale many remember from the 1990s. It also gives us some direction on that marketplace.  

1940 Packard Darrin Custom 180

Selling at $263,000, the 1940 Packard Darrin Custom 180 was the pinnacle of design when Dutch Darrin designed it. Very few were originally made, and few remain today. At the height of their collectible popularity back in the 1980s, I personally knew an owner of a similar car who declined $1 million in gold for his. That was an extreme offer, but it showed the value of such a rare and beautiful car at the time. The rarity and beauty have not changed; it is just the demand dropping that has led to a significant value drop. Will we look back someday and say the Packard that sold for $263,000 was a missed opportunity? Maybe…  

Tesla Cybertruck

Also sold was a new Tesla Cybertruck for $173,000. This is a truck that may represent a new style of “beauty.” Compared with the flowing, long lines of the 1940 Packard, the Tesla is a shoebox. Comparing the beautiful red paint on the Packard to the stainless steel of the Tesla, it is like fine China compared to paper plates. Less than 200 Packard Darrins were built, while  Tesla will be disappointed if the Cybertruck doesn’t sell 500,000 units.  

Both are ends of the collector hobby, and it shows what direction car collectors are thinking about.

Gooding Auction Company

In the final auction for April, Gooding Auction Company’s sale of the Mullin Collection set records for the sales of some stunning vehicles.

1938 Bugatti 57C

A 1938 Bugatti 57C set a world record, selling for $6.6 million. Its rarity, style, and performance made it the star of the sale. The sale also gave hope to those who still love the 1930s style and elegance that has been lost to the likes of the Cybertruck. 

1933 Hispano Suiza

Not to be outdone, a second classic found a new home for $2.3 million: a beautiful Cabriolet was restored to its 1933 Hispano Suiza perfection. It’s a car that would be welcome at the greatest car shows in the world. But at your local Cars and Coffee, would more people flock to the Hispano or the Cybertruck?  

It is an interesting question to ponder and one that will set the direction for collectors in the future. 

Happy Motoring! 


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