31 December 2003

Six Of The Best Classics For Your Garage

Each January, the Scottsdale based Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction sets the stage for a new year of buying and selling collector vehicles – many regard it as an indicator of the market in general. For 32 years, the diversity and selection of automobiles passing through the Barrett-Jackson event has been second to none.

2003's event, attended by 175,000 people, saw an astounding 90 percent of nearly 800 car lots sold, with a total sales volume pushing $28.5 million. Barrett-Jackson Auction Company has parlayed its extensive market experience into its “Six of the Best” selection of blue chip collector cars worth considering for your garage.

1962 - 1968 Jaguar E-Type Convertible
This quintessential British sports car is as desirable today as it was revolutionary when introduced in 1961. The clean lines and high tech specifications were sensational in its day, and the 150 mph rocket became an instant “must have” for the social and Hollywood set. Not much has changed. Today, this car is still one of the most recognizable collectors and has been referred to as "The world's sexiest roadster.”

A good restored convertible can be found in the $30,000 to $50,000 range. Stunning examples will command over $100,000

1964 - 66 Ford Mustang Convertible

One of America's most popular nameplates, this Mustang makes a superb "first classic" and weekend toy. A number of engine choices and option packages were offered throughout the production years, the most desirable being the Hi-Po powered convertible, with pony interior and GT package. With nearly every part still available through a number of suppliers, this car is a great way to get started.

Good examples are easy to obtain with values ranging from $25,000 to $45,000.

1970 - 1974 Plymouth 'Cuda Coupe

During the height of the muscle car era the Mopar image was evoked as much by the Chrysler Sales & Marketing divisions as it was by their engineers. The Plymouth ‘Cuda was designed to be street legal, but also had the specifications necessary to compete in the top race series, which it did with much success. Muscle car mania is alive and well today, and these cars represent the leaders of the field. With the very rare Hemi-engine 'Cuda Convertibles quickly approaching the seven figure mark, the 'Cuda Coupe represents a great opportunity.

The market range on these cars is $45,000 to $65,000, but it's climbing, so don't wait too long.

1957 DeSoto Adventurer Convertible

The 1957 DeSoto was characterized by the upswept tail fins and the massive bumper grille combination. The Adventurer series was a high-powered performance line and the first base model American car to provide one horsepower per cubic of displacement. Convenience options available were endless, so the ones today with the most factory options command the highest prices. A much overlooked marque that is ready for recognition.

Market value $35,000 to $55,000

1955 - 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' Coupe

A timeless automotive design that was conceived specifically for the American marketplace. The 300SL Gullwing was an automotive sensation when it was introduced in New York in 1954, and to this day Mercedes-Benz recognizes that it is highly revered by car collectors. This car is capable of being driven both leisurely, as well as at speed, with the same enjoyment. Its photogenic looks defy its performance. Buy one and you will probably own and enjoy it for a long time. The average ownership of Gullwings, at 23 years, is longer than any other collector car. Examples with the Rudge wheels and fitted luggage are considered the ultimate combination by Mercedes-Benz aficionados.

Market Value $200,000 - $350,000

1962 - 1965 AC Cobra 289

The legendary AC Cobra is one of the world's ultimate no-compromise sports cars. It’s the result of Carroll Shelby's desire to combine British chassis expertise with the power of an American V-8 engine. Forty years since its debut, this much imitated car is revered the world over. It's everything you ever wanted a sports car to be, and more. The 289s are more sought after at the moment than the raucous 427. All Cobras are well documented so check the history.

A good example, and they nearly all are, will set you back $150,000 to $175,000.

Each of these collectible cars will be enjoyable to drive and should also see an appreciation in value. "Look for the best condition car you can find," says Craig Jackson, president of Barrett-Jackson, "restoring a car correctly, even if only partially, is a daunting task and usually a more expensive undertaking than planned."

3 Reader Comments

  • 1
    bill johnson tulsa, oklahoma August 14, 2014 at 01:04
    the are others classics that the average person can afford like early fords, etc. How about the mercury marauder which was only made for 2 years with a very low production # making it a real collector?
  • 2
    Pat Page Central Maryland March 25, 2015 at 15:32
    Can't afford the best in class? Who can! I've found that if you define the IDEA the car portrays, then drop back and look at what was produced that aimed at the same general idea from a slightly different angle, there are some really nice cars out there to be had relatively cheap. For instance, I love the 1960s Jaguar XKE. I owned an MGB (my first love) and have found that the Triumph TRs which I've always admired are now even a little less expensive than the same year MGs. They're all great collectable British roadsters. It's just a fact of my personal economics that one is just a dream while the other two are very realistic goals. Now, there's no way the MG or the Triumph were ever meant to compete with the Jaguar on any level, but they are still very 1. British; 2. Convertible; 3. Great looking; 4. Affordable to buy and maintain with readily available parts and knowledgeable mechanics everywhere; 5. Supported by an enthusiastic owners club system; 6. Readily saleable if the need or desire to part company should arise; and, the reason most people fool with them in the first place, 7. A ball to drive as only a British sports car can be! So you can't own a Jag; so what! Buy a Triumph or an MG and forgetaboutit. I know deep down I'll be getting pretty close to the same kicks as the guy who owns the XKE but won't have to pay those outrageous insurance bills and won't be afraid to take it out in the light of day. Plus, I'll drive it! which is the real reason I'd own any car. I've read several articles that said these are some classics that the average person can afford: the aforementioned mid '60s to mid '70s Triumph TR series and MG sports cars; Nash Metropolitan; Willys Jeepster; the car-based pickups like the mid '60s to mid '70s Chevy El Camino and the Ford Ranchero; the early '60's Pontiac Tempest and Buick Skylark V-8s; any '60s GM convertible; midsize '60 MOPAR 2-door V-8s; Dodge Dart Demon and Ford Maverick Grabber V-8s; and the early '60s Chrysler Crown Imperial. A caution: while some say its cheaper to buy a 6 cylinder version of any of the American cars with the plan to change it over to a V-8, that is an expensive way to go. Change is costly. I've know several guys who've had this idea and who eventually wound up selling the car at a loss without reaching the goal. It's far cheaper to be patient and hunt for the one you really want. To quote Mr. Jackson, "Look for the best condition car you can find." The hunt is half the fun!
  • 3
    Christian Delbert Massachusetts April 1, 2015 at 10:24
    I'm sure you've all forgotten the ever beautiful Ferrari 308. Still a great price and one of the most reliable Ferraris. Buy now before you kick yourself and a few years and say," damn, I could have bought a 308 for $ 40,000 back in 2015, now ( 2025 ) they're $ 300,000."

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