Car profiles

For the Money: what $50k could bring home from recent auctions

by Eddy Eckart
15 September 2023 4 min read
Cars and Bids

Take a look back at auction sales from August and it’s easy to get lost in the numbers from a town that’s otherwise a relatively sleepy coastal enclave—you might have heard of it—Monterey. We set the bar a little lower than the $474,519 average sale price from those auctions and set out to find what $50k would fetch elsewhere last month.

Plenty of interesting options presented themselves, including strong sales and some bargains. Here are a few—which would you bring home?

1968 Lotus Elan S4 Roadster

Bring a Trailer / 911r

Sold for $40,950 on Bring a Trailer, inclusive of buyer’s premium

“It fits like a Sprite, goes like a Corvette, and handles like a Formula Junior. Driving it is very simply another sort of automotive experience altogether,” says a period Car & Driver review of the Lotus Elan. One of Colin Chapman’s several masterpieces, the Elan still inspires the same feelings decades later.

Sold by BaT regular 911r, this Lotus Elan transacted near its condition 2 (“Excellent”) value. Though it was restored nearly 20 years ago, it presents well and had been with the same owner for more than 10 years. It doesn’t have Weber carburetors, and it does have window frames, but otherwise it looks like a great example. Elan values have been stable (and reasonable) for some time, meaning a lot of fun and a lot of history can be had for not much money.

2019 Cadillac ATS-V Coupe

Sold for $43,472 on Cars and Bids, inclusive of buyer’s premium

Cadillac’s ATS-V is not as well-known as its larger CTS-V sibling, and though it’s powered by a 464-hp twin turbo V-6 instead of a V-8, it very much lives up to its V badge. Introduced in 2016 and sharing the Camaro’s Alpha chassis, the ATS-V was more than a match for its German M and AMG competition, and remains well-regarded as one of the most dynamic and lively sport sedan/coupe platforms in recent memory. I reviewed my 2017 ATS-V against its newer CT4-V Blackwing sibling here.

Though it outperformed the M3 on track, the ATS-V was not a sales success. Fewer than 5000 were made over its four-year production run, and manuals are quite rare. This 26k-mile example is one of just 506 to leave the factory in 2019, and one of only 21 manuals sold that year. It’s also well-optioned, wearing Recaro seats and the sought-after luxury and carbon fiber packages. Cheaper ATS-Vs are out there, but $40,000 appears to be the floor for well-maintained cars, even those with 40k or more miles—they’ll often trade hands among the small but die-hard V-Series community, and that’s helped keep pricing stable.

While this one appears to need a detailing (the Black Raven paint on these cars is notoriously soft) and perhaps a new front lip, 2019 cars are the rarest year of a vehicle that’s pretty hard to find to begin with. It remains to be seen whether these cars will follow the collector status of the CTS-V wagon, but these cars are a joy to drive and you’d be hard pressed to equal the performance and livability for the price.

1999 Saab 9-3 Viggen

Bring a Trailer / Tfaulk

Sold for $41,882 on Bring a Trailer, including buyer’s premium

The last few years have been kind to Saabs, and arguably for good reason. The company has long had a strong cult following, and as ’90s and ’00s cars have begun to grow in popularity, the 900 and 9-3 have started attracting people looking for something with a bit more character than the usual mainstream European brands.

Prices for Saab’s more coveted models reflect this uptick in interest. In addition to the 900 SPG, the 1999-02 9-3 Viggen is leading the way. Sporting a 230-horse 2.3-liter turbo four in place of the lesser 2.0-liter units and coming exclusively with a five-speed manual transmission along with a host of other performance and visual goodies, the Viggen coupe and sedan represented Saab’s effort to grab a share of the era’s very healthy sporty segment.

The Viggen’s an entertaining drive, and feels stronger than the horsepower number suggests. It does have its quirks, though. “Saab had a meeting with us at Car & Driver and tried to convince us that the Viggen’s massive torque steer was fun, like tail-happiness, only at the other end,” says our own Steven Cole Smith. “It didn’t work.”

Just north of $40k for this 40,000-mile example on Bring a Trailer is a record for the submodel, and a few more have transacted in the mid-30s. Only 4600 Viggens were produced, so clean ones are getting harder to find.

1967 Alfa Romeo GT Veloce GTA clone


Sold for $42,000 on PCarMarket, inclusive of buyer’s premium

This little Alfa initially raised some eyebrows in the Hagerty valuation group chat. “I’ve owned a stack of these,” says John Mayhead, editor of the Hagerty Price Guide UK. “They are superb cars. The twin-spark conversion isn’t for everyone, but it gives a lot more power across the range and is reliable if done properly.”

Depending on condition, a true ’67 GTA without significant race history can run $250-500k, making re-creations a popular option for lovers of the sporty little Alfa coupe. Gorgeous on its surface, this one had a rough go on Bring a Trailer back in June, stalling out at $49k and failing to sell. Commenters highlighted a flat replacement trunk floor that suggested a past hit to the rear. Transacting on PCarMarket for between #3 and #4 condition value for a ’67 Giulia Sprint GTV, this particular Alfa caused some potential buyers to walk away, and others to see an opportunity. $110k has been invested in the car already, and someone who knows their way around these 105-series cars should be able to fix this car’s foibles. Alternately, it could be simply enjoyed as-is, knowing that it’s always going to be valued below a clean-history example. At 42 grand, would you give it a go?

2008 Porsche Boxster S Design Edition


Sold for $43,040 on PCarMarket, inclusive of buyer’s premium

Another sporting droptop (albeit one that’s significantly larger than the Elan), the second-generation (987) Boxster is regularly lauded as a model that straddles the line between modern creature comforts and a pure driving experience that’s less present in newer cars. This particular example is a 6k-mile, one-of-500 Boxster S Design Edition that finds itself squarely between #1 and #2 condition Boxster S values.

That appears to be a solid price for a few reasons. Like its 997-generation 911 sibling, the 987 Boxster has become increasingly popular in recent years. The updated design is more broadly appealing, having done away with the first-gen car’s controversial runny-egg headlamps. By 2008, the 3.4-liter engine in the S model pushed 300 horsepower (this Design Edition’s revised exhaust breathes better, yielding 303 hp). And special editions are highly valued in the Porsche community, so this nicely-optioned Carrera White Design Edition is likely to continue to hold a premium over its contemporaries going forward.


  • northsideirish says:

    My preference is the Lotus or the Alfa, but market sustainability goes to the Porsche, given the younger audience.

  • Brad Purvis says:

    The Lowtush, in a heartbeat.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    Lotus and Alfa are my favorites on this list.

  • paul s murray says:

    Same as above, for obvious reasons. The other three? A whatever toss up but I’m putting the SAAB last. Not because it’s a bad car but because , and forgive me for this outdated colloquial term , it’s an ‘it’ yuppie car for people who don’t want to admit to themselves they’re yuppies. Oh c’mon man just fess up! As Jeremy Clarkson put it (paraphrasing) – ” It’s a car driven by graphic artists and dentists ” . I can’t improve on that. A friend has a 9-3 convertible and he loves it but I call it The Ikea. That would have been a more appropriate name than Viggen. Not ” Born From Jets” that relationship ended many many moons before and in truth there’s not a single thing ” aircraft inspired ” about them.

  • Coop says:

    For many rational reasons and a high fun quotient, the Boxster S, hands down. Else for a bit of nostalgia, the Lotus Elan…..esoecially if accessorized with a “1968” Diana Rigg.

  • John E says:

    A considered choice would be the ’68 Lotus Elan S4. Some things to work on, but so much to enjoy!

  • Mark says:

    For $50K I’d have 5 rough but fun Alfas in the barn.
    Oh wait, I do. 🙂

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