14 January 2014

2014 Scottsdale Auction Preview: Sub-$100,000 cars

Nearly one-fifth of all the classic cars that will sell at auction in 2014 will do so in January, and the Arizona auctions represent roughly half of that figure. It is difficult to pore through more than 2,000 cars and winnow it down to the “most important” or “most interesting,” or “most” anything. So, instead, we have picked five cars in three price categories that caught our eye. We will keenly be watching these cars sell this week, in addition to the remaining 1,500.

While a $100,000 car isn’t necessarily an “affordable” car by most measures, given the range of prices sure to be recorded this week, it is a somewhat logical cut-off for our first preview. Turns out all manner of cars, including card-carrying classics, Italian exotics, and supercar performance all coexist at this level.

1978 Maserati Merak SS
RM Auctions
Presale estimate: $45,000-$60,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $24,500-$48,000
Maseratis don’t get the respect they deserve, and Merak SSs are even underappreciated by those standards. While the SS variant is often dismissed by the uninitiated as a troublesome Citroen-era V-6 Maserati, the truth is that it doesn’t employ any of the SM’s hydraulic components that the earlier Merak did, it handles well, is quick, and simply exudes 1970s Giugiaro style. There aren’t many other cars from the late 1970s that can boast this type of driving experience and rarity at this price, even if the pre-sale estimate is aggressive.

1937 Cord 812 Beverly Sedan
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $60,000-$80,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Yes it has four doors, yes it has a permanent roof, and yes it has a bustle-back rear. It also carries all of those features well and sports the distinctive Buehrig coffin-nose design. A technical marvel in its day, this car has presence by the pound, and the long-term ownership from 1959-2011 is a great selling point.

1960 DeSoto Fireflite Hardtop Coupe
Bonhams
Presale estimate: $30,000-$40,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $8,800-$33,700
The Fireflite represents a bargain for a number of reasons. First, it is an orphaned marque that has long been overshadowed by Chryslers, and more recently by Imperials. Second, it was built in a year where the pendulum had started to swing from fins and chrome to long and low proportions. Third, despite points one and two, it immediately conjures all of the Rat Pack coolness that a Letter Series car does. A lot of car for the dough, all things considered.

1999 Acura NSX Zanardi Coupe
Russo and Steele
Estimate not listed
Hagerty Price Guide: $43,100-$74,700
Despite old-schoolers deriding the NSX for years for being “soulless,” the car is now a legitimate collectible. Turns out that buyers can in fact live with working electricals, limited maintenance needs, and general reliability, provided the car in question ultimately puts a smile on their face. The Zanardi Edition is an exceedingly rare variant (only 50 were built), and is the NSX to have. The bid this car will receive will go a long way toward telling just how accepted these too-practical supercars really are, and to a lesser extent, how big a market force the new guard of collectors is.

1971 Volvo 1800E Coupe
Barrett-Jackson
Estimate not listed
Hagerty Price Guide: $6,100-$27,000
Despite all the hoopla of over-the-top prices at Barrett-Jackson, bargains often abound for cars that cross the block outside of primetime. This 1800E will be sold early on Tuesday and is one to watch. It is still a cool and affordable collector car, but it’s just far enough outside of expected Barrett-Jackson fare that those few early-bird bidders may not know what to do with it.

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