11 September 2015

Six Monterey Bargains

Every year, the Monterey auctions are all about big numbers. The number of cars there is big. The sale prices are big. The crowds are big, too, and let's not even talk about hotel bills or the price of a cocktail. The big eight-figure Ferrari sales are the ones that get people clapping and make the headlines (and rightly so), but  there are hundreds of transactions at a lower price point than that. Inevitably, some  cars slip under the radar and go for unexpectedly low prices each year despite strong overall results. Here are six of the most notable ones.

1949 Bentley Mk VI Sedanca Coupe
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $200,000 - $250,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Final price: $126,500

A six-figure price tag may not sound like a bargain at first, but consider what the buyer got with this car and what kind of future potential it holds. As a Bentley Mk VI, it’s always been a highly exclusive automobile, but this one is special as it wears sedanca bodywork by Hooper of London (making it one of just two such cars built) and was ordered new by the prince regent of Iraq (somewhere it probably won’t be returning to any time soon). With no reserve it hammered at barely half of Gooding’s low estimate. Granted, the car had some tired cosmetics and condition-wise could be described as a pretty driver, but given the car’s exclusivity it’s an attractive buy, and after a bit more extensive restoration work it would be a solid concours contender.

1961 Lancia Flavia Coupe
Russo and Steele
Presale estimate:
N/A
Hagerty Price Guide: $6,300 - $16,300
Final price: $11,275

This car admittedly wasn’t a huge bargain relative to its actual value, but it does show that a pretty, low-volume Italian performance car built by a highly respected manufacturer can be had for a less than bank-breaking purchase price in Monterey. Flavias were front-wheel drive and a bit pokey performance-wise, but they were smooth, rewarding drivers and a comparable Alfa of this vintage would cost at least twice as much. The Russo and Steele example was also mechanically refreshed recently, so while parts are hard to source for old Lancias, it should work well for the time being. For used Civic money, it’s tempting.

1985 Buick Grand National
Mecum
Presale estimate:
N/A
Hagerty Price Guide: $9,000 - $32,500
Final price: $9,000

Even though there’s been greater interest in Grand Nationals over the past few years and although this was the only Grand National Mecum had on offer in Monterey (there was also one GNX that brought $140,000), it didn’t make much of an impression when it crossed the block. Although it had a reserve, it was the eighth lot on the very first day of the sale. That’s not a time slot that sellers generally wish for, but for buyers the early lots present a chance to scoop something up when no one else is there to bid on it.

1963 Sunbeam Alpine
Mecum
Presale estimate:
N/A
Hagerty Price Guide: $5,200 - $23,200
Final price: $7,000

Tigers are a frequent sight at collector car auctions, while the four-cylinder Alpines seem relatively rare. The truth is, though, that several times as many Alpines were built and they make an interesting alternative to a comparable MG or Triumph for about the same money. Mecum's example had a number of issues, but they were largely cosmetic and livable. In the end, this is a $7,000 classic sports car that you could enjoy while fixing little things here and there between weekend drives. The rare hard top adds a premium as well, making this even more of a bargain.

1947 Ford V-8 Model 79A Super Deluxe Station Wagon
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate:
$140,000 - $180,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $59,800 - $120,000
Final price: $77,000

While it was an older restoration, this '47 woodie featured bird's-eye maple and very pretty metallic paint, and was a strong car overall that Gooding & Company were  reasonable to put such a healthy estimate on. Bidding never really went anywhere when it crossed the block, however, and with no reserve it went to a new home after hammering at exactly half of the low estimate.

1956 Dual-Ghia
Mecum
Presale estimate:
$225,000 - $275,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $193,000 - $428,000
Final price: $195,000

With the number of Dual-Ghias that have come to auction over the past few  years, you'd think there would be many more than the 117 cars actually built. With exclusivity, a good chance of celebrity ownership provenance and the almost always successfulblend of Italian styling with American horsepower, these cars are quite popular with collectors and values have risen significantly in recent  years. Like the Hooper-bodied Bentley, this doesn't exactly seem like a bargain at first glance, but this  sound example brought the kind of price that one would expect to pay for a shabby, barely running example and it came in well below Mecum's low estimate. By comparison, Gooding & Company sold another Dual-Ghia, a 1957 example, for $264,000.


 

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