To be honest, we’re still making sense of what’s happening at this year’s Arizona auction week. One thing around Scottsdale is pretty clear, though; there were a lot of huge, unexpected sale prices, and they weren’t isolated to one type of collector car or price bracket, either. Things were just, well, rather expensive, and it’s not really possible to narrow it down to one standout sale for the whole event. Instead, we’ll look at a few star cars for this special Scottsdale edition of Sale(s) of the Week.
Plenty of the cars in Scottsdale had enough star power on their own, but one thing we noticed was the familiar celebrity premium. Collectors understandably like to collect famous things, and this certainly applies to automobiles, be it cars owned by celebrities, or cars that were movie stars on their own right. Either way, there were a lot of them in Scottsdale this year. They all sold for premium prices, and several of them brought record numbers for the model.
The first famous set of wheels crossed the block on Wednesday at Barrett-Jackson. Probably the world’s most well-known AMC Pacer, Garth’s light blue, flame-licked car from Wayne’s World brought $71,500. That’s over four times its condition #1 (Concours) value in the Hagerty Price Guide. It’s also a record price for AMC’s love-it-or-hate-it hatchback, and almost double the record previously set by this very same car when it sold for $37,400 back in 2016. Party on!
Next up was Thursday, when one of two 1949 Buick Roadmasters used as star cars in Rain Man hit the auction stage. This was also the one acquired by Dustin Hoffman after filming wrapped up, and was sold at Bonhams straight out of the Oscar winner’s ownership. A gleaming, concours-ready 1949 Roadmaster is worth about $135,000 and a scruffy driver is worth about a third of that. But the Rain Man Roadmaster? One bidder made it, ahem, rain to the tune of $335,000.
Thursday also saw a 1967 Plymouth Satellite convertible, one of several tattered old Mopars used in the filming of Tommy Boy, sell for $71,500. That’s well clear of the $66,000 the same car sold for just last spring, and seven or eight times what any other old Satellite in this condition wouldn’t bring.
Friday saw Dean Martin’s 1986 Rolls-Royce Corniche I sell at Barrett-Jackson. Although we usually associate the Rat Pack with Continentals and Cadillacs, anything owned by “The King of Cool” is worth having, especially a Rolls. The Corniche sold for $209,000, which is nearly four times its condition #1 value.
Barrett-Jackson also sold a handful of cars used in the Fast and the Furious franchise, including a 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline ($38,500) and 1956 Ford Fairlane ($27,500) from The Fate of the Furious (the eighth movie), as well as a 1987 Buick Grand National ($60,500) from the fourth film. The F&F movies, naturally, have a ton of cars in them and none of these had top billing. No big premiums, then, but they still sold for significantly above their condition-appropriate values to people wishing to channel their inner Dom Toretto.
Saturday’s big (movie) star car was Burt Reynolds’ 1977 Pontiac Trans Am in Smokey and the Bandit-spec black and gold. It wasn’t the star of the film and the actor owned several black and gold screaming chicken Firebirds in his day, but this one was reportedly used as a promo vehicle and later gifted to the man and mustache that made these cars so famous. It sold for $495,000, which is over 10 times the cars condition #1 value. A 1968 Corvette L89 convertible owned by a different kind of celebrity – first American in space Alan Shepard – sold for $308,000. The car’s condition #1 value is $190,000, so the “famous person” premium was definitely there, but not quite out of this world.
Even cars that just looked like famous cars brought big bucks at Barrett-Jackson. There were six Mustang “Eleanor” tribute cars made to look like the hero car from Gone in 60 Seconds, and the average price was $378,000.
Lest we think this celebrity and movie-car-mania is unique to Scottsdale 2022, we only have to look back over the last few months to see famous cars selling for large and sometimes exorbitant premiums. A Toyota Supra driven by Paul Walker in The Fast and the Furious sold last summer for a record $550,000, and the Porsche 928 from Risky Business sold for $1.98M, two and a half times the previous record for a front-engine Porsche. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mecum also sold the Porsche 964 Turbo from Bad Boys for $1.43M, the 1919 Dodge from It’s a Wonderful Life for $522,500, and a Mitsubishi Eclipse, also from The Fast and the Furious, for a record $170,500.