8 July 2015

Auction Preview: Auctions America California 2015

This year, Auctions America’s California sale moves to a new venue – the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica. Scheduled for July 17-18, the sale will feature 300 collector vehicles. That’s 100 fewer than last year, when Auctions America achieved a total of $17.5 million in sales headed by a 1960 Mercedes 300 SL Roadster for $1,155,000 and a 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa for $1,017,500. There’s nothing comparable to that slated for this year, but there are still plenty of notable and interesting cars to choose from. Here are five that we will be keeping an eye on:

1990 BMW M3 Coupe
Presale estimate: $40,000 - $60,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $17,000 - $67,900

The E30 M3 has been one of the biggest movers on the lower end of the price spectrum in recent years, having made the transition from a used car and a “future classic” to a full-blown collectible. This clean 1990 example, finished in Cinabar Red, would have been under $20,000 in fairly recent memory, but Auctions America’s presale estimate is right on in today’s market.

1970 AMC Javelin SST Mark Donohue Edition
Presale estimate: $50,000 - $60,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Mark Donohue was a driver who could make a good showing in just about any car you put him in. Some of his more notable successes were in the Penske team’s AMC Javelins in the Trans-Am series during 1970. AMC capitalized on the success with a special Mark Donohue edition of the Javelin SST road car. Donohue also designed a rear spoiler for the racing Javelins, but 2,500 cars had to be sold with these in order to homologate it. All the Donohue editions were thus equipped with the spoiler, which featured his signature on the right side. Otherwise, there wasn’t anything special about them equipment-wise. 2,501 were built, and Auctions America’s example is represented as a genuine car (Mark Donohue editions are not difficult to replicate) that has received a restoration by a marque expert. 

1966 Tatra Model T603
Presale estimate: $35,000 - $45,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $18,800 - $71,000

Czechoslovakia isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of automotive engineering and design, but Tatra built some of the most sophisticated and modern cars around for much of its history. With air-cooled eight-cylinder motors mounted in the rear and a streamlined teardrop shape, they are also incredibly distinctive, and because they were built behind the Iron Curtain, they are a very rare sight in the U.S. Tatra was a featured marque at Pebble Beach in 2014 as well, so we will see if there has been a spike in interest now that one is actually coming up for sale.

1963 Ford Galaxie 500 R-Code 
Presale estimate: $75,000 - $100,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $125,000 - $232,000

The Galaxie 500 Sports Hardtop was new for 1963, but the big news was the availability of the 427/425hp V-8. Auctions America’s Rangoon Red example is ideally equipped with a floor-shift 4-speed and the 1963 R-Code equipment that included larger brakes, 15-inch wheels, special exhaust and heavier duty springs. Mecum sold another 1963 example at Indy back in May for $60,000, so it will be interesting to see how this one performs.

1972 Mercedes-Benz 600 LWB Pullman Limousine
Presale estimate: $200,000 - $250,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $46,100 - $212,000

The Pullman limousine version of the Mercedes 600 was offered with either four or six doors, and was quite popular with the super-rich and the politically powerful. This includes certain brutal Third World dictators, people the car has always had an unfortunate association with. Auctions America’s example is one of only 304 four-door Pullmans built, and it received a restoration in the early 1990s. All of the power features, which are all operated hydraulically in a 600, are also reported to work. The equipment list on a long wheelbase 600 is always an interesting read, and this one features a privacy divider, intercom system, privacy curtains, rear sunroof and a full bar. There’s no reported early ownership history, but given the car’s restoration and recent maintenance, that’s not necessarily cause for concern. Let’s just hope it’s not Idi Amin’s old car.

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