Auction Preview: Silver Auctions Scottsdale 2017

Each of the Scottsdale auctions has its own personality. Barrett-Jackson is a spectacle. The catalog sales (Gooding & Company, Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s) are elegant affairs. Russo and Steele is adrenaline packed and Silver Auctions is just plain, unpretentious fun, with plenty of cars offered, which mortals can actually afford, at the Ft. McDowell Casino this Thursday through Sunday. Owner Mitch Silver has been known to ride around the auction grounds on a minibike, ensuring that his guests are enjoying themselves. He needn’t worry. Following are a few of the cars at Silver that we’ll be paying attention to:

1992 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 Convertible
Hagerty Price Guide: $4,500 - $23,600
Lot 266
We’re not telling you anything you haven’t heard when we mention that 5.0-liter Fox-body Ford Mustangs are hot. The trouble is, finding a good one is exceedingly difficult. They were so cheap for so long that even the ones that survived past the turn of the millennium intact got snatched up and run into the ground. Which makes this seemingly pristine, triple black GT convertible all the more special. The undeniably low mileage – 35,000 miles – is amazing for a quarter-century-old car, but not so freakishly low that you’d feel like you’re tossing dollar bills out the window with every click of the odometer. This one will certainly not go cheap. How far north of $15,000 it winds up will tell us a lot about the strength of the Fox Mustang market at the moment.

1952 Nash-Healey Pininfarina Roadster
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 285
Silver almost always has its share of odd ducks, it’s part of the fun of making the 30 minute trek out to Ft. McDowell. (God knows, the questionable casino buffet isn’t exactly a prime motivator.) This Nash-Healey is one of the more unusual consignments we’ve seen there in a while. A remnant of the immediate post-Jaguar XK120 world, when every American manufacturer felt the need to offer a sports car. In this case, the Pininfarina styling is a bit of an acquired taste. An engine swap was performed at some point, which undoubtedly explains why it’s here and not at Bonhams. The Chevy Small Block living where a Nash six would ordinarily sit likely makes this one considerably more fun to drive and should result in a hefty discount over the $75,000 to $100,000 that these usually bring. If you must, sourcing the right engine probably isn’t that tough.

1975 Pontiac Bonneville Hardtop Sedan
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 269
Let’s begin by saying that there isn’t anything remotely special about this car per se beyond the fact that it exists. Excruciatingly few of these pre-downsizing Pontiac land-yachts escaped the crusher after their 12 mile-per-gallon appetites rendered them functionally obsolete. And since it’s from the Malaise Era, you can bet that its 400-cid V-8 doesn’t put out much more than 160 hp or so. But this blue Bonnie has a ton of eyeball because it has under 19,000 original miles on it. It literally looks like it could have rolled off the “Let’s Make a Deal” set yesterday, the Big Deal of the Day that went un-won. I have no idea what’s fair for it, but if it goes in the ten grand range, on a dollar-per-pound basis, it could be the best deal in the Valley of the Sun this weekend.

1995 Pontiac Trans Am Convertible
Hagerty Price Guide: $9,300 - $20,600
Lot 449
These Quebec-built, 4th generation F-body cars have yet to catch on with collectors. Which, at least for the time being, makes them very attractive buys for the value conscious. They look good, they’re roomy and comfortable and have decent trunk space.  This one has a 5.7-liter V-8 and a fairly rare six-speed manual transmission. And did we mention that it only has 35,000 original miles? Identical to the Fox-body Mustang above. This car will almost certainly bring less money. How much less will be quite interesting to see. It could be the thinking person’s alternative to the Mustang.

1988 Suzuki Samurai
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 478
Most folks should be forgiven for ignoring the Suzuki Samurai market (such as it is). But those of us with an inexplicable penchant for searching out vehicles like this on our favorite Craigslist aggregator know how few Samurais survived roll-overs and the general abuse meted out to disposable all-wheel drive SUVs. Astonishingly, the extant great examples are bringing close to actual five-figure money if asking prices are remotely credible. This one (claimed to be the former property of a grandma) shows just under 34,000 miles and looks absolutely pristine and original. Off road (where this example has most surely never been), they’re nearly as capable as an Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40. If someone snatches this one up for $7,000 or so, it will be very well bought. Again, it’s always interesting to see how bidders respond to very well-preserved examples of ordinary cars with low survival rates.