Classic Car Watch
Can you get a deal at a bargain end car auction?

NOTE: This column displays cars I have found on the Internet. I am not selling them. Please follow the links if you are interest in a car. Be mindful of the date this article was published. For an explanation why I do this read the original column here.

May 1, 2014
By Scott Lewis

Barrett-Jackson, Mecum, RM Auctions, Gooding & Co., Russo & Steele, Auctions America. These are the big boys in automotive auctions. Barrett-Jackson, of course, being the heavy weight with the most TV coverage. It almost seems like these auctions are for the super rich & the serious collectors trying to hoard and flip cars.

How many of the people that buy cars at these auctions are true enthusiasts? "Certified Car Nuts" as My Classic Car used to say (and what's printed on my personal cards).

More importantly can the regular car guy get a deal at an auction. No, I am not talking about scoring a barn find Shelby Mustang for $75K. Which very well could be a screaming deal. I mean, can you get a decent car an enthusiast would be proud to own and drive... for a reasonable amount of money.

You know where we are going with this.

This month I am going to take a look at a past Mecum Auction, their Dallas auction that took place September 4-7, 2013. I am going to look at some of the cars that are listed as sold for under $15K (with one exception).

Why Mecum? Two reasons. 1) They get a fair amount of TV coverage (I used to see them listed on Velocity before I dropped to basic cable). 2) I found their site a little more user friendly when getting results for past auctions.

In a future column we will take what we learn here and apply that to looking at the cars listed before an auction, and track the price they sell for after the auction. For now... let's see what happened back in September, 2013. I decided to look up the NADA Average Retail value for each car. I needed something to help determine if the car was a decent price.

1978 Chevrolet Camaro Rally Sport - Sold Price: $9,500

- Build sheet
- 350 CI engine
- 4-speed transmission
- New 3.42 Positraction
- 800 miles on drivetrain
- Paint is 10 years old
- Current owner has owned for 10 years
- Flowmaster exhaust
- New shocks

NADA Average Retail: $9,156

Comments: I really liked the look of this car. And I could see owning and driving it. The selling price is pretty much right in line with NADA, so there is little here to comment on. I wish I were there to bid.

1986 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS - Sold Price: $7,500

- 305 CI, Automatic
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Power windows
- Power locks
- Power tilt
- Bucket seats
- Console
- Very nice
- Looks good
- Real SS 305
- Auto with shift
- CD player
- Very clean

NADA Average Retail: $5,610

Comments: This car sold for right between NADA's average and high retail (high being $10,340). The car looks good in the few low res pics, so this seems like a reasonable buy. I had a friend that used to own one of these. I kind of like them... but I don't know I would have bid on this car.

1972 Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Sold Price: $10,000

- 350 CI, Automatic
- Bucket seats
- Console
- Power steering
- Power locks
- Power brakes
- Power windows
- Air conditioning
- New interior
- Black vinyl top
- New paint
- Flowmaster exhaust
- New tires and 20" IROC color coded wheels
- Disc brakes
- Rear defogger

NADA Average Retail: $9,870

Comments: Those wheels have go to go. Yuck! Otherwise I really like this car. The final price was right in line with NADA, so I have no problems here. I would have liked to bid on this car.

1997 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 30th Anniversary - Sold Price: $7,500

- Rare for 1997 factory CD player
- 30th anniversary Z28 Camaro
- 75,000 original miles

NADA Average Retail: $4,162

Comments: I have to agree with the final sale price... NADA is wrong here. But they also did not like the 30th Anniversary as an option. I don't mind the price. Some day I want a 93-96 Camaro Z-28 in my collection, in red. This car would make a nice place holder in the garage. I would have bid on it.

1985 Porsche 944 - Sold Price: $7,000

- 2.5L, 5-Speed
- Very original
- Believed to be 65,000 miles
- Original paint
- Original interior
- Owner's manual
- Tool roll and original spare tire

NADA Average Retail: $6,275

Comments: Looks like another average retail confirmation. Cool. I thought this car looked excellent in the low res photos. I would have loved to seen it in person and bid on it.

1971 Datsun 240Z - Sold Price: $10,250

- 1971 240Z
- 4-speed transmission
- Restored
- New interior
- New paint
- New electrical
- New intake and twin carbs
- New air conditioning system

NADA Average Retail: $15,400

Comments: Well, according to NADA this was a screaming deal. And I would have bid on it if I saw it going for this much below average retail (assuming there wasn't something obviously bad about the car upon inspection).

1961 Volkswagen Beetle - Sold Price: $10,000

- All proceeds go to families with children suffering catastrophic medical
          issues like cancer and leukemia
- Restoration began Mother's Day 2013 and finished Father's Day 2013
          in under 5 weeks as a visual model for a family-based sermon
          series at First Baptist Church Euless called "Overhaulin' Your Life".
- Complete pan-off restoration
- Brand new rubber and seals throughout
- 1776cc, 90 HP engine installed with a 12,000 mile warranty
- Completely replaced wiring harness and electrical
- Over 1200 man-hours from a team of 20 volunteers and nearly 700
          man hours donated by a professional, media blasting, paint and
          body team
- A special thank you to all of our sponsors who made this possible.
          Contributions total more than $8,000 in parts and $50,000 labor.
          Thank you Beshear's Collision Repair, SoCal Imports, Novak
          Motors, Black Gold, TMI Products, Inc.

NADA Average Retail: $9,950

Comments: I liked this look of this car A LOT. I am not a big fan of these cars, but I could see myself bidding on it. It's that good looking. I am troubled by the description. 1200 + 700 volunteered labor hours and later $50,000 in labor contributed. Does that mean they estimate the 1900 hour to equal $50,000. That's only $26/hour and some change. Regardless... this car was a bargain for the amount of work put it. I am surprised that since it was for charity it did not go higher. But it does go to show you... just because you put over $50K into a car, does not mean it will be worth $50K.

1966 Ford Mustang GT - Sold Price: $14,000

- A-Code 289/225 HP 4-barrel engine
- 4-speed transmission
- Gauges
- Rally-Pac
- Fog lights
- Dual trumpet exhaust
- Chrome styled wheels
- Redline tires

NADA Average Retail: $28,340

Comments: I think NADA is way off here. I was impressed with this car when I saw it... while knowing it sold for $14k. It looked very nice, was a real GT, so I thought $14K was a bit of a bargain. I could see a real GT with a 4 speed going for close to $20. But $28K for average retail... NADA needs to make an adjustment here.

1966 Ford Mustang - Sold Price: $8,000

- 200 CI, Automatic
- Factory air conditioning
- California produced
- Front wheel disc brakes
- Believed to be 45,450 miles
- Dual range automatic transmission
- Full length console

NADA Average Retail: $15,390

Comments: Again... what is NADA thinking about Mustangs. They put this at over $15K for a super plain coupe with a 6 cylinder. They ding it 20% for the 6, but really. Average retail over $15K. I personally thought this car was spot on. I would have put a range of $7-10K on it. It looks just a little nicer than a similar car I saw for sale at the Goodguys Lone Star Nationals. The car I saw had a 5 speed, but the same 6 cylinder. It was $7,700. So this car going for $8K seems fine to me. And I would have loved to bid on this myself.

1967 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible - Sold Price: $10,500

- 1967 Cutlass Convertible
- V-8 engine
- Automatic
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Upgraded ignition
- Yellow exterior paint
- Black bench seat interior
- Black convertible top
- Cragar wheels
- Goodyear Eagle GT tires

NADA Average Retail: $16,500

Comments: I am surprised this sold this low. Besides Mustangs, I am seeing a nice trend in cars selling pretty close to average retail by NADA. I like this car. I have a friend that is a huge Olds fan. I would have bid on this if I was looking for a convertible.

1968 Chevrolet Impala - Sold Price: $11,250

- Impala 2-Door Hardtop
- Automatic with ratchet shifter
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Aftermarket air conditioning
- Bench seat
- Column mounted tach
- Rally wheels
- Trim rings and center caps
- White letter tires
- Black with Black interior
- Big Block engine

NADA Average Retail: $9,250

Comments: It looks like a big block, but they did not put that into the description. And probably because it is not original. And the A/C is not factory, so I can't get NADA to raise the price. I like the car, and I would bid on a car like this. I just don't know if I would have stayed in it to win the car. I might have stopped around $10K. Not because I think the price it sold for is too high, but because I would probably prefer to put my money on something else.

1966 Ford Mustang Coupe - Sold Price: $7,500

- 200 CI, Automatic
- Newer paint in factory color
- New interior
- Tilt steering column
- Many new mechanical parts

NADA Average Retail: $13,680

Comments: Same as above... but lower for lack of A/C. Again, the sale price seems right on, but NADA seems way off. I like the car, but it looks a little cheesy. I guess I need to see it in person.

1966 Ford Mustang Coupe - Sold Price: $9,250

- New 17" wheels and tires
- New paint
- New upholstery
- Automatic transmission

NADA Average Retail: $17,100

Comments: OK. I know what the problem is. NADA is smoking Mustang Dope!!! $17k for this car. NADA, get with the program and adjust your Mustang prices. For under $10K this car is just about Perfect. Just the kind of driver bargain you hope to get at an auction. If I were at this auction I would have walked away with one of these Mustangs that sold for under $10K.

1972 AMC Javelin SST - Sold Price: $13,000

- 304/150 HP, Automatic
- 2007 Restoration documented with pictures
- 304 CI V-8 engine with dual exhaust
- Automatic transmission
- Brakes and alignment done in 2012
- New Texas inspection sticker in August 2013
- Custom fit car cover
- Few Javelins remain
- Owner's manual
- Photos

NADA Average Retail: $11,220

Comments: I am a little stunned that NADA gave a 10% bump in value for that engine. Jeez... only 150 hp. This car is quirky, but I like it. I might even bid on it, but I would have been out in the $10-11K range.

1968 AMC Javelin - Sold Price: $8,000

- Inline 6 with 3-speed manual transmission
- Dealer installed air conditioning
- Power brakes
- Power steering
- Original AM radio
- Totally rust free
- Looks as good from underneath as from above

NADA Average Retail: $10,980

Comments: I think NADA is a bit too high. I like this car at $8K, but not much more. It is kind of neat... but in reality it is just a plain old car that won't ever be worth much. And it would take far more money than its worth to add performance to it. Just an affordable weird car to sit in a collection.

1978 Chevrolet Corvette Silver Anniversary - Sold Price: $10,000

- L82/220 HP, 4-Speed
- Corvette marked its silver anniversary for 1978 with a new fastback roofline
- One of only 3385 built with the L82/220 HP engine with a 4-speed transmission
- Two-tone Silver Anniversary paint, Silver Anniversary badging
- Rare mahogany interior
- Power windows, tilt steering wheel, rear window defogger
- AM/FM stereo with 8-track tape player and rear speakers
- 4 period correct Firestone wide oval G-70 14 tires
- Silver anniversary Corvette aluminum wheels with black hubs
- Power steering, power disc brakes
- Factory air conditioning
- Removable T-Tops, power antenna
- Believed to be close to all original with an odometer reading at just over 33,000 miles

NADA Average Retail: $14,350

Comments: Unless this car is way worse than the pictures show, it was a bargain. An L-82 and 4 speed... and A/C. The perfect mid 70's Corvette. And it sold for a nice price. I would definitely wanted to bid on this car.

1984 Oldsmobile Hurst Cutlass - Sold Price: $11,500

- Special Edition Hurst Cutlass
- Lightning Rod shifter
- V-8 engine
- Signature paint scheme
- Burgundy interior
- Power steering and brakes
- Air conditioning
- BF Goodrich radial tires

NADA Average Retail: $13,640

Comments: I like these and I love me some Lighting Rod Shifters, but I really would prefer the colors reversed. I like the black on top. So I would probably bow out early on bidding for this car.

1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary - Sold Price: $12,500

- 350 CI, Automatic
- 1988 35th Anniversary Corvette coupe
- Believed to be 20,000 actual miles
- Miles shown on Autocheck
- 350 CI engine
- Automatic transmission

NADA Average Retail: $13,150

Comments: I love this car. Not because it is a 35th Anniversary car. I just love the white on white. It looks sleek. I would bid on this car. And it sold just below NADA average retail, so I probably would have been in the thick of it.

1967 Pontiac GTO Replica Resto Mod - Sold Price: $14,000

- Pontiac resto mod
- New base coat clear coat in Viper Red paint
- Fresh interior
- V-8 motor
- A lot of chrome
- Aluminum radiator
- Factory air
- Power steering
- Automatic transmission
- New 17" custom wheels

NADA Average Retail: $17,430

Comments: Replicas are so hard to put a price on. NADA average retail for a Lemans coupe is $17K. In the distant past, "clones" and such would actually be worth less than the car it started as. Meaning, by changing a Lemans to a GTO the car becomes worth less that an original Lemans. And that seems to have been the case here. The price seems reasonable to me. I like the look, and have do trouble with it. I would drive eh wheels of it if I bought it.

1978 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Edition - Sold Price: $9,500

- Official Indy Pace Car Edition
- L48 engine
- Automatic transmission
- Mirrored T-Tops
- Pace Car decals on the car
- Tilt and telescopic steering column
- AM/FM 8-Track
- Remote mirrors
- Power windows and locks
- Power steering and brakes
- Air conditioning

NADA Average Retail: $18,260

Comments: This looks like a bargain. I would totally buy this car for under $10K. Too bad I wasn't there... and don't have money... yet.

1981 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe - Sold Price: $14,000

- L81 350/190 HP engine
- Automatic transmission
- Factory air conditioning
- Original AM/FM cassette stereo
- Tilt and telescopic steering
- Power windows
- Power door locks
- Power 6-way drivers seat
- Removable mirrored glass T-Tops
- Polished aluminum wheels
- Leather interior
- Believed to be 54,000 miles
- Clean CarFax history

NADA Average Retail: $16,450

Comments: Why do I like this car. It is not special in any way. Just a Corvette. And a slow one at that with less than 200 hp. But it looks very pretty. I must say, I would have liked to bid on this car, but I think I would have bow out when it hit $12K.

1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Fastback - Sold Price: $16,000

- 351 CI, Automatic
- Fresh rotisserie restoration
- Bright Red with Black trim
- New air conditioning
- Ram Air 351 CI Cleveland 4V engine
- Automatic transmission FMX
- New exhaust
- Magnum 500 wheels
- Power steering
- AM/FM radio with 8-Track player
- Rear and front spoiler
- Factory console
- New carburetor
- New comp cam

NADA Average Retail: $26,740

Comments: I want to like these cars. My brother-in-law knows someone that bought one of these "larger" Mustangs (71-73). The one she bought - at an auction - had dual quads (two four barrel carbs). It was a pig. We drove it while he was storing the car for her, until her garage was finished. The dual quads were bogging the engine down. I am pretty sure the engine was close to stock, so it was just way too much carb for the engine. But I still like the idea of these "luxury" Mustang. I would never have gone to $16K, but I would have stuck around to see how it did.

1970 Pontiac Grand Prix - Sold Price: $9,000

- Gold Paint with White Vinyl Top and Gold Interior
- V8 Engine
- Automatic Transmission
- Bucket Seats with Console Shifter
- Air Conditioning
- Power Windows
- Power Locks

NADA Average Retail: $9,712

Comments: Love the car... hate the color combination. I probably would not have bid on this car. I would have either A) bought something because i would not wait for this, or B) saved my money for a better car later in the auction.

1995 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe - Sold Price: $8,000

- LT1 5.7L
- Florida car
- Removable top
- Black exterior with Red interior
- Automatic transmission with overdrive
- New Nitro high speed tires
- Garage kept
- Wood package
- Clean Vehicle car report

NADA Average Retail: $6,375

Comments: I like the color combination here. The car looks very nice in the photos. If it did not disappoint in person I would have bid on this car. What can I say... I am a Corvette fan.

1969 Plymouth Barracuda - Sold Price: $6,000

- 340 CI, Automatic
- New interior
- New tires
- Fresh tune-up with new carburetor
- All new brakes

NADA Average Retail: $11,050

Comments: I am surprised how low this went for. Yea, it is a cheap hot rod. But it's a Mopar. I like the notchback version of this car a lot better than the fastback. Go figure. Nice bench seat, too.