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.
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 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
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 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 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.