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?
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.