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."