Five Cars That Smashed Our Price Guide at Arizona Auction Week

by Greg Ingold
5 February 2022 4 min read
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We’re never surprised or offended when bidders at auction have the temerity to pay something other than the value listed in the Hagerty Price Guide. Classic car values are—to borrow a phrase from Yoda—always in motion. This year’s Scottsdale auctions, however, were something else entirely. The feeding frenzy in Arizona exceeded everyone’s already sky-high expectations, leaving a long list of vehicles that exceeded their condition-appropriate value in the Hagerty Price Guide. Although there will always be outliers, and the price guide is, in any event, based on more than auction results, the five vehicles below seem to indicate real movement in the market.

1958 AC Ace Roadster rear three-quarter
Bonhams

1956 AC Ace

Sold for $516,500 (Bonhams)

#1 Condition (Concours) value: $421,000

The market for British cars appeared sleepy for the past few years, so it’s a surprise to see Bonham’s AC Ace command such an incredibly strong sale. The car was purchased new by a USAF officer who brought the car back with him from Europe. 60 years later, the car was restored by Kevin Kay Restorations in 2016 and has since been invited to numerous prestigious concours events such as Amelia Island, Pebble Beach and The Quail.

The car’s well-known history alongside a folio of concours appearances certainly factors into the sales result, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the price achieved is more in-line with the more sought after AC-Bristol variant. In reality, it’s less about the car itself and more about what exclusive automotive events this car holds the ticket to. To look at this sale as the mere purchase of a car is to completely miss the point. We’ll keep an eye out for this roadster at future concours.

1976 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser front three-quarter
RM Sotheby’s / Drew Shipley

1976 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40

Sold for $95,200 (RM Sotheby’s)

#1 Condition (Concours) value: $84,600

Vintage truck and SUV values have been on the up-and-up for so long, it’s almost absurd. Before the Ford Bronco took the spotlight as one of the segment’s stand-out stars, the Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser served as benchmark for what the top of the classic SUV market could achieve. As vintage 4×4 vehicles are as much of a lifestyle statement as they are a collector item, it isn’t hard to see why the market continues to expand at a steady rate.

This example offered by RM Sotheby’s is a former South American delivery truck later imported to the US and professionally restored. It gained some tasteful upgrades in the process, like an aftermarket off-road suspension and and a set of BF Goodrich tires. While this probably didn’t significantly contribute to this impressive result, they certainly don’t detract from the overall draw. This specific sale shows that you can’t count out the FJ40 to bring good money at auction, and that while a gray market example may have received less attention in prior years, where the truck was delivered when new doesn’t really matter anymore.

1965-Shelby-GT350 number 257 front three-quarter
Barrett-Jackson

1965 Shelby GT350

Sold for $687,500 (Barrett-Jackson)

#1 condition (Concours) value: $600,000

If you appreciate the Mustang as the performance car it is today, you have Shelby American and the GT350 to thank for it. In 1965, Shelby worked out with Ford to convert the new Mustang from boulevard cruiser to a track-hungry performer. The success and hand-built nature of these early cars means that they are highly sought after among collectors.

This example offered by Barrett-Jackson is reported to be restored with many NOS parts and to carry a well documented history. All of these aspects are very important to serious collectors, as many parts originally installed at Shelby are nearly impossible to source nowadays, considerably driving up desirability. With a car as well-presented as this claiming such a strong sale, it seems the Shelby market is on the move.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-Window Coupe side view
Barrett-Jackson

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-Window Coupe 327/340hp

Sold for $385,000 (Barrett-Jackson)

#1 Condition (Concours) value: $209,000

Split-Window Corvettes continue to hold a special place in the hearts of enthusiasts as one of the great icons of American automotive design. These cars are a must-have vehicle for a serious collection of American iron, and after this January, values appear to be on the rise.

Barrett-Jackson’s split-window being the most obvious one. At $385,000, it sold for nearly the same price as a concours condition 1963 Z06 Corvette without the desirable extended fuel-tank option. This ‘Vette appeared to be in excellent condition with great history, though the price remains tricky to explain, especially for a non-fuel injected model. But while this car could be considered an outlier, nearly every 1963 Corvette sold this January claimed a premium regardless of condition. Remember, one sale doesn’t mean a trend, but a handful does; the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette market might very well be on the move.

2008 Porsche 997 GT2 front three-quarter
Gooding & Company

2008 Porsche 911 GT2

Sold for $357,500 (Gooding & Company)

#1 Condition (Concours) value: $229,000

Right now, watercooled 911s ride the same upward trajectory set by aircooled cars a few years ago. We expect anyone who questioned the collectability of watercooled 911s a few years back are likely rethinking their position. In Scottsdale, the one big Porsche sale that stood out was Gooding & Company’s 400-mile 997.1-generation 911 GT2 that hammered during its online sale.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the GT2 is usually the top dog of the of the 911 family with its powerful 530-hp, 3.6-Liter twin-turbo engine. With just a handful of examples made during the 997.1-generation before the later 997.2 GT2 RS supplanted it at the top, these non-RS GT2s are also incredibly difficult to come by. Gooding & Company has a long established history of selling desirable Porsches for top dollar, but this result really exemplifies how strong the market has grown to be for late model 911s.

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Comments

  • James Resseguie says:

    I watched much of the auction and it appeared that the lure of being on television, the two years of lockdown, brought out the newly wealthy who had been unable to show their wealth. it appeared they felt the exhilaration spending some of the money, that had been building due to the lockdown. I found some of the prices of vehicles, I would never have considered collectable, almost laughable. Yes almost any vehicle is collectable to someone, but at a price that reflects their limited demand. In my opinion there are cars that can withstand the test of time, those are the true collector cars. The Ford models A and T are good examples of cars that were only collectable to their generation and as time passed their value went down. Then we have other vehicles that have continued to appreciate regardless of the generation. Those are the true collector cars. They represent beauty, advances in man and society, and are appreciated regardless of the observers, age, nationality, or background.

    • Mike says:

      Irrational exuberance for cars is evident not only at auction, but everywhere. It’s not newly “wealthy”, and it’s not tv time. Consider selling your 4 year old car with 40k miles on it for 75%+ of what you bought it for new….that’s the moment we live in right now. People are expressing their desire to own things they’ve dreamed of, and I believe Covid caused many to realize this is no dress rehearsal, we only go around this one time. Homes, cars, art, boats, and many other things that bring us joy and appreciation are the American way. Some want that to stop, but it’s in our dna. We are collectors of dreams, big and small. And many have worked very hard to be able to do that.
      There is undoubtedly a reset that will bring things back down to earth, and as the population ages and we get to these latest generations that appreciate nothing and in fact wholeheartedly reject everything that came before, this era will come to a fizzle like so many others have. We live the way we live and we do our best to make the most of difficult times. However that expresses itself, so be it.

  • Al Cooper says:

    Is it possible that these sales at nosebleed prices mean little or nothing to the other 99.8% of car enthusiasts? The answer is fairly obvious and it’s not a good look either.
    After 2+ years of tactile deprivation and a world in which both crazy AND stupid have been given undeserved merit, I don’t see this as anything special.
    Look at real “sight unseen” real estate buying at the Jersey Shore. It’s the same disconnect and also makes little or no sense.
    For the other 99.8% of us, I just say…. yawn.

  • Denise Clumpner says:

    I believe there are many factors driving the market. Even in rural areas (like where I live) the prices of good used parts have skyrocketed, and few average-income people can afford to do a restoration out in their garage with their young daughter or son. There has always been the crowd that drops the car at the restoration shop and says “call me when it’s done” but I fear for the future of young car nuts (like I was) who want an old car project to work on and even if it takes years to complete, can take pride in that accomplishment. I respect the prices that the Ferraris and other high-end cars bring, but in the end I don’t think that crowd (or those cars) represent the majority of the hobbyists out there. I also don’t believe the market for used daily vehicles represents a new norm. At some point, there will be a glut of stuff on the market and prices will drop. Our hobby cannot sustain these prices, and really, people harm it by over-paying for vehicles that don’t warrant the prices. I think there will be some over-zealous winning bidders who will suffer the results/losses of their momentary lack of judgment. I guess we shall see. In the meantime, those who are getting their hands dirty out in their garages, patiently finding parts and putting together their projects will, I believe, continue to be the backbone of the classic vehicle hobby. Let’s try not to forget that!

    • Marc René Yvon says:

      Denise here is absolutely right. Taking an old heap and dropping it to a pro restoration and have it spotless – #1 concours condition – and NEVER drive it as it was built for, only showing it at Amelia or else where, like the AC Ace, is killing the hobby. Who needs Trailer Queens ?

  • Jon Aronson says:

    What is driving the market is, in my opinion, to be able to own, to possess, machines of beauty and purpose that are capable of being driven on today’s roads, but that stand out from the vast majority of modern bloodless cars that all look alike, and, with new cars’ reliance on computer systems, will have to have a future cadre of cottage industries of computer rebuilders with caches of antique chips just to keep them running.

    The Porsche stands out due to its rare status, but will also have some difficulty in the future, as antique chips become difficult to obtain. However, as long as there are machine shops and mechanical oriented people, all of the other machines will continue to run and be appreciated by the general public.

    Even if the “Greens” try to destroy the gasoline engine, we, the people, will still demand the production of cars capable of being driven for 300-400 miles without waiting in lines for recharging, as long as people continue to use private conveyance to travel on the Interstate System. That demand will allow the price of special cars to continue to go up in price (even discounting in the effect of extreme inflation).

    Unless the human desire to have something special and the enjoyment of beauty and individuality is by force destroyed, the prices of these special cars will continue to be desired and will appreciate. My 1984 Porsche 911, that I have owned since new, will be owned and loved by a series of owners long into the future for the same reasons that make me smile every time I walk by or think of it.

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