When the dust settled on Sept. 2 and the last of over 1,000 cars crossed the block at Auction America by RM’s four-day Labor Day soiree, more than $18.6 million in sales were reported with a $456,500 ’35 Duesey heading the list.
And while the bottom of the “Top Five” list was a $181,500 ’32 Auburn, the rest of the reported 78 percent of sales were for much, MUCH less expensive machines. So, to show that even at an auction held at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival regular folks can spend “credit card money” and come home with something, um… no, just “something.” That’s all I’m promising here.
Seven cars with sale prices below $4k follow, and while I can’t vouch for their relative worth, I can say that they all sold at or near their parts/scrap values, so not much harm could be done – financially at least. They all could mechanically fail tragically, burst into flames and/or explode…
[Cars are listed in price order, cheapest first.]
Lot 1016 – 1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car sedan [$2,200]
“This Lincoln Continental Town Car is believed to only have approximately 48,000 miles since new. It is loaded with all the luxuries you could expect from a Town Car, including a factory moon roof, power options, and air-conditioning. It is even equipped with a CB radio. It is finished it’s a dark brown metallic with a plushy light beige interior, and has had only a single repaint.”
If nothing else this was the dollar-per-ton winner hands-down. I’ve owned a few cars like this and they are every bit as incredible as they look—provided they’re not the usual smoked-in, puked-in and beat-on examples that this kind of coin usually brings. Judging by its description—and photos—this one could actually be in fine fettle. And if not, between selling off its hard-to-find parts and scrap value for the rest you’re still going to come out ahead.
Lot 3172 – 1983 Piaggio Ape[$2,530]
“The Piaggio Ape (Pronounced Ah-Peh is Italian for Bee) is a 3-wheeled light commercial vehicle 1st produced in 1948. At the end of WWII, most Italians lacked transportation and finances. The inventor of the Vespa Scooter came up with the idea of building a light 3-wheeled commercial truck to power Italy’s reconstruction. The Ape has been in continuous production since its inception. It has been produced in a variety of body styles in Italy and India. The Ape is a common sight in Italy where its compact size allows it to drive narrow city streets and park anywhere. It’s often seen at the roadside where farmers use it for an impromptu market stall. This 83 is practical, useful, and very popular.”
If you woke up this morning and said to yourself “I need a golf cart with no seating room, no power, dodgy Italian engineering and a tendency to roll over” then you’re going to have to find the fool that bought this thing and hope his widow is willing to sell its slightly crumpled remains at a discount. “It can’t be that bad,” you say? It was created by the inventor of the VESPA SCOOTER. Take your $2,500 and buy a beater F-150. It’ll do everything better, faster, cheaper and won’t cause you to get your ass kicked at the local watering hole…
Lot 2205 – 1979 Chrysler 300 [$2,750]
“1 of 3,811 built. 3-speed 727, Posi rear end, All original. True dual exhaust.”
This “first new 300 since 1971” should’ve stayed in the oven a bit longer as disgraced the family name by offering a 195 hp 360 cu. in. V8 which, though the most powerful engine offered that year, was still weaker than water. And with an MSRP of $8,034—the standard Cordoba upon which it was based started at $6,337—there were DAMN few reasons for even 38 to be built, let alone 3,811. Other than the “all original” lie—those chrome wheels weren’t even inventedby 1979—it seems like another “cheap enough to take a chance on” ride.
Lot 4010 – 1964 Ford Thunderbird [$3,025]
“This appears to be a very original 1964 Ford Thunderbird that has a V-8 engine and automatic transmission. The Thunderbird has Silent-Flow ventilation, Swing-Away steering column, center console, remote driver’s side mirror, bucket seats, radio and power windows. This is an appealing entry-level Thunderbird.”
Uh oh. “This appears to be…” is auction-speak for “Approach with caution.” They want you to know that this car could be OK, or it could be a cash vacuum biding its time until it can kill you in a way that looks like it was your fault. I guess if you were a mechanic (or masochist) that didn’t mind the fact that you’re one year too late for the gorgeous ’63 model’s styling and 40 years too late for being relatively sure that it won’t explode the first time you try to turn it over. It’s just nice enough to make you think you can live with it, but tatty enough that you’re going to start wanting to tinker with things until you’re divorced and homeless. FLEE!
Lot 3008 – 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V [$3,300]
“Vinyl Top. Has been in the same family for 30 years. Only used for summer driving, and was kept in the garage. Runs and drives nice.”
Welcome to the yin/yang of the “summers only” car. Sitting—provided you don’t crash or have a mechanical failure—can be as harmful to cars as driving them. Seals leak, the oil that’s supposed to be all over the engine’s internals drains to the pan, leaving them unprotected, etc. So, sure, the outside of this car looks great and the interior’s OK, but why on earth is the engine so rusty? That Japanese mini-sub they recovered from Pearl Harbor after 50 years in the ocean was in better shape than the valve cover and brake booster, and the rest of the engine bay’s not much better. Something’s amiss here but for the money you could probably fix it and still have paid less than the car’s worth.
Lot 2030 – 1962 Chevrolet Corvair Monza Club Coupe [$3,740]
“The Corvair was a daring new attempt for Chevrolet when introduced for the 1960 model year; a compact car intended to hold off the growing number of imports and keep buyers from looking at Rambler. Featuring an innovative rear-mounted air-cooled flat six-cylinder engine, the Corvair was economical and low in profile. Maligned in 1965 by Ralph Nader as being unsafe, the assertions made that the Corvair was prone to flip easily would later be found to be overblown claims and that the car was in fact as safe as its contemporaries. This two door automatic can boast of long term ownership and is believed to have only 36,748 original miles.”
Corvairs don’t flip—“easily” or otherwise—any more than early 911s are constantly scheming to swap ends on you. Still, GM DID know of a way to make them handle better and chose not to install it, so they rightfully took it in the shorts on that one. YOU shouldn’t, however, as by now most Corvairs have been upgraded and are as docile as the underpowered puppy dogs they are. And although it doesn’t mention its rust situation, the Monza Coupe had the highest production of any ’62 Corvair, with 144,844 built. There’s a large “enthusiast” community out there, too, just waiting to bring you into the fold.
Lot 2065 – 1978 MGB Roadster [$3,850]
“The always popular MG is nicely presented in orange with black interior and convertible top. The 110-cid, 85-hp inline four-cylinder engine is mated to an all- synchromesh four-speed manual transmission. The relatively light-weight and small size helps to make handling one of the cars strong suits; along with the fun in being behind the wheel.”
Danger, Will Robinson. If you ever read an auction description that talks about the car—but not that PARTICULAR car—run. Less than four grand for something fun, convertible and orange may not seem like a lot, but these things were thrown together with already outmoded parts and production methods, so even fresh off the assembly line (HA!) you had a one-in-fifty chance that yours was just right, so by now who knows how many demons are lurking under that M&M orange paint. And as the sales price shows, there’s no market for the “rubber bumper Bs” like there is for the earlier “B”s and all preceding “A” models. Just drive it ‘til it blows up or rusts out, both of which WILL happen. Soon.
Source : Auctions America by RM