Sales that Teach

Is there such a thing as too many winged wonders?

by Andrew Newton
20 January 2023 3 min read
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Mecum

Can there ever be too much of a good thing? It’s a well-worn question, but one we ask quite a bit at Hagerty Insider, particularly when applied to supply, demand, and old cars. Sifting through the intricacies of this hobby all day will do that to you. It’s surely a question that auction companies ask themselves, too. I even overheard passersby utter it a few times last week at Mecum Kissimmee, the world’s largest collector car auction. They could have been referencing anything—from the over 4000 vehicles that crossed the block to the abundance of certain models. Indeed, we noticed several instances of high-spec, perfect cars selling strongly while lesser cars experienced more no-sales and mixed results relative to their estimates.

In this context, couldn’t help but think of the 20(!) Mopar aero cars (the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Road Runner Superbird that briefly dominated NASCAR in 1969-70), most of them from a single collection. Some were perfect. Others weren’t. Some had desirable colors, which can make a surprisingly big difference in the Mopar muscle world. Others didn’t. Over three percent of all the Hemi-powered wing cars ever built were available to the highest bidder. So, can there be too much of a winged thing?

Mecum

There are all sorts of factors that go into how we price cars for the Hagerty Price Guide, but there are even more variables when you throw vehicles into an auction setting. Timing, marketing, makeup of consignments, even the weather can affect who’s bidding. What auction companies have the most control over is what goes across the block and when, so they put a lot of time and energy into this bit of car choreography.

Which brings us back to our age-old question and group of pointy-nosed muscle machines. On the one hand, bringing 20 of these rare cars (comprised of 503 Daytonas and about 2000 Superbirds) certainly grabs the attention of those shopping for a wing car. And, theoretically, it sets a bidders against each other, pushing prices up and up. On the other hand, so many of the same car in one spot also means bidders can choose to be picky. With all choices of color, options, transmission and engine, lesser cars might get passed over.

It appears that some of the latter happened in Kissimmee. Of the 11 Dodge Daytonas, two stood fairly clearly above the rest. Both cracked the world-record price and tied each other at $1.43M each. One was an ex-Bobby Allison NASCAR racer, and the other was a pristine, super low-mile Hemi 4-speed car, the same one that comedian David Spade bought in 2015 for $990k. Only three Daytonas have brought over $1M at auction before. Meanwhile, seven of the Daytonas sold for well under their presale estimates, including one for $308k against a $375k estimate. It was a 440/375hp car with an automatic (the least desirable drivetrain), and although its color combination of Yellow over Saddle is apparently one-of-one, it’s not the kind of loud shade that Mopar fans typically pay a premium for.

Most of the Superbirds sold under their estimates as well, including some of the Hemis. But to show just how much details matter, let’s point out that a Limelight Green Hemi 4-speed with its original drivetrain sold for $852,000, while a Lemon Twist Hemi with an automatic and a replacement engine brought $517,000. That Lemon Twist Superbird might have been the star attraction at another auction. Here, it faded into the background.

Granted, none of the 20 brought bargain-basement numbers, and all the prices were well above what they would have been a couple of years ago. But after 2022’s nearly nonstop growth, the more nuanced results for this group made for a compelling spectacle. Will top-shelf cars still fly high and lower spec rides start to soften? It’s something we’ll be keeping an eye out for as we pick apart the numbers from Kissimmee and Scottsdale in the coming weeks.

Comments

  • Richard says:

    I’m a Camaro guy (have an original low mileage 69 Z/28) and would take a COPO LT1 first…… but all these Mopars are awesome no matter what color, all one of a kind never to be duplicated!

  • wdb says:

    Not a driver in the bunch. All speculation. I admit I’m not a MOPAR person but I’m also not very interested in what speculators and garage queen buyers are willing to pay for cars like these.

    • John Hudson says:

      Reply to wdb.Not a driver in the bunch,Buddy Baker was the 1st to break the 200 mph barrier in a Dodge at Talladega.Car#88 with full dash,windows cranked up and down.A racing seat was installed and the rest was history.

  • Larry D* says:

    If as stated most of these were from the same collection, I wonder if it’s safe to assume the seller could see the handwriting on the wall. Time to get out while the getting is good?

  • Donald H Nau says:

    What are you talking about? 3% of the cars built are too, too many? Mecum IS where these are sold – another (different) auction? Certainly not your neighborhood for sale sign. For every sale there is a buyer – these cars are not destroyed! Pick apart the sale price from the true marketplace? This is not MSRP territory. THE market said an original Hemi w/4spd car is worth $340k more than a replacement Hemi w/auto. For a moment, at least two bidders thought so. Have you bought a dozen eggs lately? – Pick that apart.

  • Big John in NJ says:

    Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda ! Olden Ave Dodge in Trenton, N.J. had a row of Four (4) 1969 Daytonas, $4,400 price tag in the windshields. They couldn’t give them away, nobody wanted these weird looking cars. If only we knew then what we know now!

    • Dennis Stoops says:

      Big John, I second your remarks about the winged wonders. I was entering Jr. High in Urbana Ohio. My dad and I drove past the local Chrysler dealership and I remember pointing at a Daytona sitting on the lot. It stuck out like a sore thumb but was so cool at the same time. It sat there for a long time before eventually disappearing. Quite the shrewd investment for a lucky person.

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    I watched these cars go through the auction. Pretty amazing to watch.

  • Ken Randall says:

    Where was that crystal ball that everyone wishes they had access to at least ‘once’ in their lifetime? I had a well-paying job at an oil refinery at the time in Regina Sask when Daytona’s and Superbirds sat idle on dealership lots collecting dust and virtually no interest from the buying public. Gasoline was dirt cheap and once a month, we as employees, filled up for free. My dad was a good friend of the Dodge dealership owner and I clearly remember how relieved he was to unload a couple of them via dealer transfers. Our family was offered a great deal on these winged vehicles by (Paul R.) but we said thanks but no thanks. Hindsight is indeed 20/20. Like many other people back in that time period I believed fast-performance cars would always be available and that each subsequent year would only bring on better and better models. Hemi cars, LS6-equipped cars, and Shelby Cobras were overlooked on my car buying list. If only …

  • Big Walt says:

    Those cars looked great particularly in 1969 and 1970 when Bobby Allison was driving one on a NASCAR track and for that reason alone makes these cars extremely collectable and attracting big numbers, however that buyer market is slim compared to the more compact stylish body lines and horsepower performers of that era, clearly there are big fans of the ugly duckling.

  • paul s murray says:

    as racing history interesting, unique. but honestly they’re ugly. the wind cheating extensions worked but the the proportions are aesthetically are all wrong. the distance between the front wheel well and the nose are a city block long and ,in the flesh, the car isn’t wide enough to handle this.they always looked, well, goofy to me. where as a ferrari short/long nose still keep that wonderful smooth feminine shape. plymouth made matters worse with the ‘ f -it , why spend the money’ vinyl top.

  • MATTMERICA says:

    A few things – ONE – can somebody please proof read these articles before they go out? I hat being the grammar police, but there are three items in the story that make zero sense, and it just looks like either nobody cares enough to proof read the work OR nobody cares – which is worse? At the same time, it makes ridiculous comments like “at $517K it faded into the background” – really? Last time I checked these “winged” cars were the wonderful Road Runner with a nose cone and a wing – and $517k for ANY vehicle, much less one that is 50+ years old and most assuredly drives like a 50 year old car but with a gimmicky nose cone and a wing is nothing to sneeze at. Lastly, I don’t know why Hagerty gets the knee pads out for Mecum and Barret Jackson – yes, I realize that these two beer-swilling events are the best option to pick up new insureds (at at typically much higher values for premiums than the prior owner had) but seriously, those events are NOT very good. They just sold them as they are getting their a$$es beat in by Bring a Trailer. Hagerty itself has a bastardized version of the BaT online auction site, but it seems to have almost nobody looking at it based on the comment section. BaT could be selling a 1978 caddy and have 600 people watching it and discussing it, but on Hagerty the same car gets two comments and no clicks. And no offers.

    • Steve T says:

      “I hat being the Grammer police”
      “it just looks like either nobody cares enough to proof read the work OR nobody cares”

  • Philip says:

    My answer to the rhetorical question headline is NO.

  • Joe says:

    I remember looking for a car in 1971. There were many of these cars left over, they were trying to get rid of these new cars for $2700 – $2900

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