Auction Report

Our picks: what we'd do with $50K at the 2023 January auctions

by Andrew Newton
6 February 2023 9 min read

The biggest month on the auction calendar is now over. We’ve gone over the results, the trends, and the surprises. Of course, there’s more to the January auctions than the headline-grabbing sales and what the numbers mean for the market. Affordable cars and even screaming bargains were out there for the taking.

Because these deals deserve attention, too (and besides, we love window shopping), we polled Hagerty staffers to see which cars, trucks, or bikes they would have snatched up if they had a fat $50,000 stack laying around. The limit was supposed to be two vehicles for our hypothetical funds, but you’ll see that there are a few folks around here who don’t follow directions.

As you’d also expect from a group of people who think about old cars for a living, we had some wacky results. A few were practical and modest with their choices. A few threw caution to the wind. Only one nabbed a Miata (Wiley is checking the math on this). And out of over 5000 vehicles up for auction last month, two of us went with the exact same Blazer. Here are our selections. Of course, we want to here what you’d buy. Let us know in the comments.

1961 Pontiac Catalina Bubble Top and 1961 Chevrolet Brookwood


1961 Pontiac Catalina sold at Mecum for $46,200

First up is this Catalina bubble-top. Thin A-pillars, tons of glass, double four-barrels and a V-8. What could be bad? Four-speed manual with a Hurst shifter—don’t hate that! I think these are much prettier cars than the later GTOs or LeMans, and this one’s mix of elegance and aggression looks special. 

Motorsport Auction Group

1959 Chevrolet Brookwood sold at MAG for $3564

OK, with only $3800 to go, all that’s grabbing me is that funky two-door wagon. Other than the wheels, which I would definitely swap out, I kind of love how wacky it is. Load up the whole family and tour America’s bizarre roadside attractions: balls of twine, enormous pieces of fruit, houses haunted by dead farmsteaders, you name it.

–Eric Weiner, Executive Editor

1969 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe 427/390hp and 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara


1969 Chevrolet Corvette sold at Mecum for $40,700

Before I share my choices, I’ll point out that Eric is wrong about his Catalina being prettier than a GTO. He still picked a Pontiac, though, so I’ll let it slide.

My first pick eats up a big chunk of budget, but it’s worth it: a red 1969 Corvette with a 427 and a 4-speed! There were a lot of beautiful, chrome-bumper C3s to choose from in January, but this is the one I kept coming back to.


2000 Jeep Wrangler Sahara sold at Mecum for $7150

I also love TJ-generation Wranglers. This 4.0-liter, 5-speed Jeep sports a perfect green over tan color combo. Unlike most affordable TJs, this one hasn’t been hacked up and turned into a rock crawler…which kind of makes me want to hack it up and turn it into a rock crawler. That said, I have managed to keep my XJ stock for several years, so maybe I would be able to resist the temptation.

–Brandan Gillogly, Senior Editor

1978 Chevrolet Blazer and 1973 Triumph TR6


1978 Chevrolet Blazer sold at Mecum for $24,750

I picked this Blazer in memory of my Uncle Gary, who fostered my early love of cars. At four or five, I dubbed him “Uncle Gearshift.” He plowed snow with one of these on Cleveland’s east side, and as a tot who was used to my mom’s Malibu, I felt like I was climbing into a monster truck whenever I got in it.


1973 Triumph TR6 sold at Mecum for $24,750

As for the Triumph, I like the idea of another small convertible in my life. This TR6 is visually clean, and I’m a sucker for a dark exterior with caramel seats. I don’t care about the specter of electrical gremlins; there needs to be a British convertible in my barn for at least a little while.

–Eddy Eckart, Senior Editor

A cornucopia of fourth-gen F-Bodies

The Jewish Talmud teaches, “Who is rich? One who is happy with his portion.” My portion in life happens to be fourth-gen F-Bodies. I grew up riding in and driving them and, thanks to the qualities that caused General Motors to hemorrhage market share in the 1990s and early 2000s, they have remained utterly immune to appreciation. In January I could have—and but for my desire to remain married would have—bought four V-8 powered Camaros and Firebirds at auction without crossing the $50,000 threshold.


1993 Pontiac Firebird Formula sold at Barrett-Jackson for $7920


2002 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 sold at Barrett-Jackson for $11,770

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS sold at Mecum for $15,400

1993 Z28 Pace Car sold at Mecum for $11,000

First, the 1993 Firebird Formula with an LT1, a 6-speed manual, and 88,000 miles. Then it’s Camaro time, with a 2002 Z28 with an LS1 and T-tops, a 2000 SS, again with an LS1 and, finally, a ’93 Z28 Pace Car Edition(!!).

All in, that’s $46,090, meaning I’d still have four grand left, which I’d obviously spend on tires.

–David Zenlea, Hagerty Insider Managing Editor

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca and 1990 Cadillac Brougham D’Elegance


Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca sold at Barrett-Jackson for $42,900

As I always do when I’m the proud inheritor of a thick brick of daydream bucks, I made a digital beeline for the Porsches. I shouldn’t have been so excited—the sub-$50,000 Porsche market is lookin’ somewhat rough these days. A “GTS?” Oh, just another Cayenne. Wow — a 996 Turbo! Ah, it’s Tiptronic.

Back to the safety of Ford, where I immediately latched onto this (relatively) rare 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca Edition that sold for $42,500. This is a serious car with incredible on-track capability, and at the time it set a new standard for how a circuit-capable muscle car should drive. It’s extremely loud, immensely fun, and with just around 1500 Laguna Secas built over two model years, it should appreciate nicely—as long as I can keep it out of the gravel traps.


Cadillac Brougham D’Elegance sold at Mecum for $6600

Now, the Laguna Seca was infamous for its rather hardcore approach to simple transportation, and my ass, spine, and kidneys are going to need a palatial place to park when I just need to motor on down to the local co-op. It looks like my amended $7100 budget is enough to nab this $6,600 1990 Cadillac Brougham d’Elegance. Button-tufted upholstery! Vanity lighting for the rear seats! Power everything! And my goodness, that gold paint—if only my garage was long enough.

–Conner Golden, Features Editor

1994 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ80 and 2001 Mazda Miata


1994 Toyota Land Cruiser sold at Mecum for $18,700


2001 Mazda Miata sold at Mecum for $9350

A trusty Japanese 4×4 (with new tires!) for Michigan’s nasty winters, and the best little convertible of all time? A two-car garage doesn’t get any better. I’d have 12 grand left over to absorb any unexpected maintenance issues…or buy a two-wheel trailer for the Miata and a roof rack for the ’Cruiser, and camp my way across the U.S. like the Millennial/Gen Z tweener I am. A third option: Swap the Land Cruiser for this auto-gearbox Isuzu VehiCROSS. It would be quieter on the highway, more brainless about town, and I could thumb my nose at all those mainstream Land Cruiser fans. Aren’t they kinda predictable?

–Grace Houghton, Associate Managing Editor

1963 Land Rover Series IIA

1963 Land Rover Series IIA Sold at Barrett-Jackson for $24,200

I’ve always wanted a Land Rover Series II/III because 1: I’m British, 2: Land Rovers are cool, and 3: I want to live out my dream of driving around a farm with my dog in the passenger seat, waving out the window at my neighbors.

I feel these always look best in old ratty paint and patina, but restored ones do feel a little more professional. So why not buy one that’s been fixed up and has a leather interior, all for a decent price of $24k? Of course, I’d tone down that bright color scheme for something more Land Rover-appropriate, like a nice sea green. New paintwork for around $6k puts me all-in for $30k.

One of the problems with these trucks is how slow they are on the highway or hills. The gearbox design precedes World War II, after all. So I am in the truck for $30k and have a $50k budget…you know what’s next. That engine is getting swapped out for a 2.8L Cummins turbodiesel crate engine. I’ll worry about the brakes and steering later…

–James Hewitt, Senior Information Analyst

1997 Chevrolet Camaro SS LT4


1996 Camaro SS LT4 Sold at Mecum for $41,800

This is one of the pinnacle fourth-generation F-Bodies and still doesn’t get the appreciation it should. It’s the power plant that makes this car particularly special: SLP only produced 106 SS Camaros and 29 Firebird-based Firehawks with the top-dog LT4 available on C4 Corvettes. Allegedly, these engines were even torn down at SLP and balanced before installation. I’ve always had a soft spot for SLP’s work, and it doesn’t get much better than an LT4 Camaro SS. With 16,000 miles on the clock, it isn’t such low mileage that I’d feel guilty driving it farther than around the block. Even though these will eventually become more sought after, I wouldn’t let it be a garage queen.

What would I do with the rest of the $50,000? Why, what any 4th generation Camaro owner stereotype would, of course: spend the rest on PBR and pork rinds. (can confirm—he would.—EE).

–Greg Ingold, Hagerty Price Guide Editor

1978 Chevrolet Blazer and 1980 Chevrolet Malibu


1978 Chevrolet Blazer sold at Mecum for $24,750

If I’d had $50,000 to spend on a car or two in January, I’d be thrilled with this pair of sharp-edged Chevys from Mecum Kissimmee. Squarebody Blazers, like the cosmetically-restored 1978 K5 that sold for $24,750, have a brutish charm that is hard to ignore. I love the blue-over-white color scheme here, and the functional vinyl interior is perfectly utilitarian for people who actually want to use their 4x4s. Riding on black steelies and beefy all-terrain tires, this would easily slot into the go-anywhere weekender spot in my garage.


1980 Chevrolet Malibu sold at Mecum for $24,200

And it would perfectly complement the clean 1980 Malibu that brought $24,200. Menacing in black with dark tinted windows, and rare (1 of 124) with its V-8 and 4-speed manual powertrain, the crisp A-body cuts a mean, clean profile. If anemic early-’80s muscle is your thing, you could do a lot worse.

–Stefan Lombard, Managing Editor, HDC Magazine

1984 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce


1984 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce Sold at Mecum for $8250

While the 105k indicated miles are a little high for a Spider, the car looks clean outside and under the hood. Described as being repainted in 2015 and with a newer-looking top, the car looks good, aside from the poorly fitting carpets inside. This Alfa presumably had basic maintenance and upkeep done correctly as part of a larger collection comprised of some 45 vehicles. However, at $1650 below the Hagerty Price Guide’s condition #4 (“fair”) value for this model, there’s a lot of room for fixing any needs while still being above water. As long as the repaint isn’t hiding lots of filler.

Bonus: When we did this in 2020 I picked a, shall we say, “cosmetically unique” BMW 2002. It sold again last month for $19,800, a 63% gain. The Hagerty Automotive Intelligence team does make the right call once in a while.

–John Wiley, Manager of Valuation Analytics

1977 Citroën CX 2400, 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS, 1975 Porsche 914, 1966 Volkswagen Dune Buggy, 1977 Fiat Spider, 2020 Honda Ruckus

An important assumption with my fantasy buying spree is that I own a barn, otherwise there is no place to store this eccentric collection. A $50,000 budget goes a long way when the buyer favors strange, sometimes terrible cars. For instance, a 1977 Citroën CX 2400 for $11,200 is hard to pass up. Please find a more odd car for the money. As the CX is often considered the last “real Citroën,” it of course has a single spoke steering wheel and hydropneumatic suspension. But the CX gets even weirder, with a ribbon tach and speedo, a concave rear window. To top it off, this one is set up to run on either gasoline or liquified petroleum gas.


1977 Citroën CX 2400 sold at Bonhams for $11,200


2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS sold at Mecum for $12,100

When I saw that a 2000 Isuzu VehiCROSS sold at $12,100, I couldn’t pass it up. Japanese SUVs have been hot in recent years, but the VehiCROSS has been left out in the cold. I don’t get it. Even if you hate the design, you can’t deny the VehiCROSS is one of the most capable SUVs from the era as a result of its high departure angles, Torque on Demand 4×4 system, and factory-installed racing shocks with external reservoirs. Plus, it’s rare: Isuzu made less than 6000 during the entire run. If this Isuzu had a Toyota badge, it would have sold for many times the price. I love a bargain, especially one that can go anywhere. I’ll stop my VehiCROSS rant here, as there is substantial budget left.


1975 Porsche 914 sold at Mecum for $13,750


1966 Volkswagen Dune Buggy sold at Barrett-Jackson for $7700


1977 Fiat Spider sold at Mecum for $1650


2020 Honda Ruckus sold at Barrett-Jackson for $3520

Needing a good driver’s car, a 1975 Porsche 914 1.8 at $13,750 is a no-brainer, and this example comes in one of my favorite 914 colors—Nepal Orange. That still leaves $12,950 left in the budget. While we’re on the topic of air-cooled, brightly-colored cars, I might as well pick up an orange 1966 Volkswagen Dune Buggy for $7700. My final car selection is probably a terrible decision, but this $1650 1977 Fiat Spider is too tempting to pass up. The handwritten startup instructions on the dash don’t inspire confidence, but it looks to be in great condition for the price. With the remaining $3600, I’ll forgo starting a Fiat repair fund and buy a 2020 Honda Ruckus for $3520. Rated at 114 mpg, the $80 left over will buy me 2500 miles of gas.

–Adam Wilcox, Information Analyst

1979 Puma GTE and 1969 Daimler DS420 Limousine

As someone who prefers his motoring cheap and cheerful, $50k and a 2700-vehicle shopping list is like a shot of nitrous to the brain. So many choices! Three sports cars, a station wagon, and a motorcycle sound nice. But unlike some (looking at you, David and Adam!), I remember we’re going with a two car limit. Here it goes…

I’m tempted by a $36,300 Allard, but I’m not in love. Same with a two-tone $30,800 1957 Rambler station wagon. What a cool, quirky family hauler. I don’t know, maybe I can do better. Then there’s a $33,000 Mosler Consulier. Fun? Definitely. Ugly? Also definitely.


1979 Puma GTE sold at Barrett-Jackson for $23,650

OK, time to focus and make a decision. My first one looks part Porsche, part Lotus, part Alpine A110. But it’s not German, British, or French. Well, it is kind of German, but really, this Puma GTE hails from the world’s fifth largest country—Brazil! Pumas were built in São Paulo on VW underpinnings, mostly from the Karmann Ghia and Brazilia, under a rather attractive fiberglass body. Don’t call it a chintzy ‘70s kit car, though: They were sold in kit form for export, but home-market Pumas sold as complete cars. For the kit, all you had to do was install drivetrain and front suspension, bolt on wheels, and pop in a battery.


1969 Daimler DS 420 sold at Mecum for $25,300

That leaves me $26,350. Once I get tired of giving people this Brazilian beauty’s whole backstory, I can move on to explaining this funky-looking limousine to them. This stately, Jaguar-powered bit of rolling English elegance wafts along in standout fashion that can’t help but bring a smile to my face. Plus, it has tons of room for the friends and family who would inevitably ask for a ride. Speaking of rides, DS420s like this one were a top choice among royals not just in Britain, but across Europe and in the Middle East. If it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for me. Especially at 25 grand.

–Andrew Newton, Senior Auction Editor


  • John says:

    Nice to see that there are cars at these auctions for less than $20k! Articles on some of these “deals” would be great!

  • Rider79 says:

    Some cool rides here, some at good prices. The 1961 Pontiac is kinda cool, in its way, but I never found them that attractive- looking. That red 427 Corvette – now you’re talking. And TR6’s and 124 Spiders are always cool, and fun to drive (I have never driven a TR6, but HAVE driven an 850 Spider!) The Miata is cool, too – as they always have been.

    Never cared for the Ruckus; it is just too industrial-looking for me. I much prefer the Honda Metropolitan scooter – or my old 1984 Gyro!

    That Malibu style is a clean, timeless design. I almost bought a 1979 one in 1988 from a neighbor, when I needed to buy a car quickly. It had the smallest V6 and automatic, and boy, was it slow.

    As the owner of a 2002 Z-28 convertible, I naturally like the 2002 Camaro that sold. But I guess I am the exception to the stereotype: I don’t like pork rinds, and I certainly am not going to drink PBR! (Maybe Stag, though. Just kidding!)

    Finally, yeah – I would maybe like that gold Caddy.

    As for that VehiCROSS – wow, that is weird – as weird as the one my cousin had for several years. Kinda cool, though, in an offbeat way.

  • Erik Zuckerberg says:

    My garage fits the bill of your hypothetical question: 2001 Mustang SVT Cobra convertible $15,000 ($19,000 with upgrades/tires) and $31,000 for an immaculate 2007 Corvette convertible.

  • Gary Miller says:

    I have always loved the Fiat 124s. I have had half a dozen over my 69 years. The rust problem is a major draw back. The technologically on them was ahead of the time in that price range. Four wheel disc brakes, dual overhead cams, and five speed gear box in the late sixties was new. Don’t forget the full reclining front seats for date night fun!
    The Sport Coupe was the best handling by far. I loved the Italian styling too.

  • Ken Sousa says:

    I bought the identical twin of the Pewter Z28 in your article in 2000. It was a great car! Even with a 2.73 rear end I ran a best of 13.44 @ 107.43 mph at the local drag strip. Alas, I sold the car with 141K miles on the clock for $4,500 about six years ago. I replaced it with a one owner Victory Red 2009 Corvette coupe with the LS3 power plant with only 26K on the clock. It also has a 2.73 gearing, but it is a noticeable step up in raw power from the Camaro’s LS1. I’m too old to run it at the drags anymore, but I’m told that it would turn in the mid 12s if I did.

  • Edward Greenberg says:

    Can parts be had for the Puma?

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    Some interesting cars here. Some are just unremarkable and I question the prices.

  • Jeff says:

    The 59 wagon is a fantasy. According to the link to the auction site, it sold for $35,640.

  • Dan Clements says:

    I cannot believe the price on the 59 Chevy wagon, still in shock!

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