The late Jim Rogers amassed a 230-car collection over his lifetime, with most of those cars scratching the same itch many American Baby Boomers have felt. The vast majority of his cars were built by the Big Three during the 1950s, with an interesting collection of American orphan makes and some post-war European cars as well. The cars in this world-class collection will be sold at no reserve by Mecum Auctions on Feb. 27-28, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, with all proceeds benefitting the Rogers Foundation. Here is a selection of some of the cars we will be watching.
1949 Cadillac Series 61 Club Coupe
Hagerty Price Guide: $14,100 - $51,000
While the 1948 Cadillac was the first design to sport tail fins, the 1949 is the connoisseur’s choice, what with a bolder front end and a new overhead-valve V-8. Just ask Ed Welburn. The Series 61 is a design tour de force from Harley Earl that set the stage for American design for the next decade and beyond. Given their place in America’s automotive history, these cars are relatively undervalued in the marketplace.
1953 Chevrolet Corvette
Hagerty Price Guide: $123,000 - $323,000
The 1953 Corvette was the first model year for America’s favorite sports car, and the lowest year of production as well. Considering there were only 300 built, these come to sale rather frequently, with five crossing the auction block last year alone. These cars peaked in January 2012 when two sold in Arizona for prices around $450K. Save for one mile-high sale at Barrett-Jackson in 2014 where a paired lot of a 1953 and a 2003 50th Anniversary Corvette sold for a combined $770,000, we haven’t seen a first-year ’Vette exceed $300K since April 2013. This is a good opportunity to see if prices have stabilized.
1957 Continental Mark II
Hagerty Price Guide: $21,800 - $102,000
Continental Mark IIs were famously more expensive than a new Rolls-Royce upon their introduction, and Ford reportedly lost money on every sale. Today the same often holds true, as expert restorations are very expensive. The simple difference between the cost of the work and the cars’ subsequent resale value means that concours-quality examples are true labors of love. That said, one sold in Arizona this past January for nearly $250,000. A sale price for this restoration candidate in excess of the $65,000 high estimate will indicate upward movement for this market.
1953 Hudson Hornet Convertible
Hagerty Price Guide: $50,000 - $153,000
After a wild 2013, the fervor over step-down Hudsons has cooled a bit. Not that prices have declined; they have instead plateaued. This one looks to be in fine condition and is particularly attractive in blue over two-tone blue and white. The pre-sale estimate of $80,000 - $100,000 seems reasonable, but this Hornet could easily be the object of a bidding war.
1955 Chrysler C-300 Hardtop
Hagerty Price Guide: $38,000 - $122,000
The 1955 C-300 was Chrysler’s original Letter Series car, which makes it America’s first banker’s express. Some even consider the model to be the original muscle car given that it was essentially a homologation special that helped Chrylser dominate the NASCAR circuit in 1955. These cars have performed very well in the market since 2008, outperforming the larger 1950s “chrome and fins” segment by a long shot, but pristine cars are the ones that have truly rocketed up in value. This 300’s pre-sale estimate of $60,000 - $75,000 is in line with current values, but will be a helpful checkpoint for recent movement.