The top 10 choices for keeping Scottsdale weird

Generally speaking, the freak flag doesn’t fly high in Scottsdale. Auction Week is about mass-market retail-ready collector car commerce. Dealers and private consigners bring mainstream wares that they hope to unload by the end of the week. Lots of resale red Corvettes, Camaros, Chargers and Chevelles. But search hard enough under the tents at Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele and Silver, and even the most dedicated weird-car nuts will find something to get excited about. Following are some of our favorite odd ducks:

1970 Saab 95 Wagon
Sale Price: No Sale
Hagerty Price Guide: $2,900 - $17,700
Silver Auctions
Any vintage Saab is weird, but a V-4 two-door wagon, fin-tailed Saab? Now that’s something to get the pipe-smoking, tweed jacket-wearing abnormal psych professors to put down their DSM manuals and pay attention. This one was in extremely fine shape and totally stock, lacking even the plastering of fringe-left bumper stickers usually seen on these cars. When a Volvo Amazon wagon just isn’t weird enough, there’s this. Sadly, it was a no-sale, crossing the block the same day as a huge protest rally in downtown Phoenix, ensuring that the market for this car was absent.

1989 Toyota Soarer
Sale Price: $20,900
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Russo and Steele
We all wish that the 25-year rule was a little less draconian, more like Canada’s 15-year rule, but at least we seem to be hitting a sweet spot for some really interesting Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) stuff like this Soarer. The Soarer was Toyota’s halo car, the proto-Lexus. It was only sold through special Japanese Toyota stores and was chock full of the latest technology including electronic adaptable suspension. This example was one of just 500 AeroCabin models, with two seats and a folding rear window. Appearing in fine shape, this recent import came complete with proper looking Kumamoto Prefecture license plates.

1976 Bradley GT
Sale Price: $7,700
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Barrett-Jackson
Those of a certain age remember the kit-car era fondly. You could have any car from an ill-proportioned and nearly undriveable homage to a motor show concept to a bogus Corvair-powered GT40 for just $995 (plus a clapped out VW Beetle). The completed reality rarely matched the ad in Road & Track, but that never stopped the dreamers. This particular Bradley GT was a preservation class example, with gently mellowed metallic brown paint (with postage stamp-sized metal flakes) and bar stool-grade naugahyde seats, it looked like a kit-car time machine.

1979 Stutz Bearcat Convertible
Sale Price: $46,200
Hagerty Price Guide: $12,800 - $48,700
Barrett-Jackson
The great P.J. O’Rourke once called the ‘70s the decade that quality control forgot. For that matter, good taste probably has a pretty dim recollection of those years as well.  The 1970s re-boot of the Stutz was based on a Pontiac Grand Prix chassis and was chock full of understated enhancements like gold-plated instrument bezels, two-tone paint, fake side exhaust and wire wheels. For criminally taste-challenged celebrities like Elvis and Liberace, its pimptacular styling was irresistible. For lovers of irony and Blaxploitation films, the appeal remains strong.

1997 MSV Motorhome
Sale Price: $23,100
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Barrett-Jackson
I have to admit to personally spending an inordinate amount of time looking over this gullwing-doored RV of the future.  Built in Worthington, Ohio, by Mauck Specialty Vehicles, around 100 of these were built with a price tag of over $200,000. George Foreman owned one as did country singer Alan Jackson. This example was powered by a Chevy 454-cid V-8. Who wouldn’t want to pull up to Comic-Con in this thing, its Big Block exhaling through a couple of glass packs?

1991 Lancia Thema 8 3.2
Sale Price: $7,100
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Barrett-Jackson
You couldn’t be blamed for walking past this car without giving it a second glance. It looked not unlike a first-generation Hyundai Excel, about a 9 out of 10 on the bland-o-meter. The Thema was built on one of the most widely shared European platforms of the early ‘90s—the Saab 9000, Alfa Romeo 164, Fiat Croma and Lancia Thema were all related under the skin.  The Thema’s big secret, however was the fact that you could order up a Ferrari 3.2-liter Quattrovalvole (four valve), flat-plane crank V-8 mounted transversely driving the front wheels. This one was so equipped. If you happen to have a Ferrari 308 or Mondial with a blown-up engine, this car was a steal.

1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2
Sale Price: $11,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Barrett-Jackson
$11,000 From the front, this looked like any other GM G-body car from the 1980s. Pontiac, Olds, Chevy and Buick sold tons of these and the vast majority of them (Grand Nationals and SS Montes aside) were about as interesting as a German accounting convention. Alternatively, this car (even though few people at B-J recognized it), was a genuine NASCAR homologation special. It was built for the same reason as a Plymouth Superbird or a Dodge Charger Daytona, to qualify the body style for racing. The standard Grand Prix with its formal roofline and near vertical rear window created appalling lift on the track at around 200 mph. Extending the glass and creating a flowing roofline alleviated that. Unfortunately, GP 2+2s were all powered by the same malaise era 305-cid V-8, and the workmanship on the glass was terrible. But with fewer than 1300 built and with a racing pedigree, it’s an interesting and rather odd car.

1886 Karl Benz Patentwagen Recreation
Sale Price: $18,700
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Barrett-Jackson
Mercedes-Benz built a number of high-quality replicas of one of the earliest motor vehicles (built by founder Karl Benz) to celebrate the company’s centennial. It was unclear from the car card if this was one of them, but it certainly looked the part. Barely able to travel faster than a brisk walking pace and designed to run on volatile benzene-based fuel, as a pure curiosity, I suppose it’s worth having around. Hagerty’s Jonathan Klinger (who was the caretaker of one for a while) can give lessons on starting it.

1940 Austin Bantam Roadster
Sale Price: $38,500
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Barrett-Jackson
Nash Metropolitans and Renault Dauphines were strange enough sights on U.S. roads of the ‘50s. But Austin Bantams, must have looked positively surreal to American drivers of the 1930s and ‘40s when small foreign cars were almost completely unknown. American Bantam was formed out of the detritus of the bankrupt American Austin company and although there was no formal connection, American Bantams owed a great deal to British Austins. This roadster suffered from a terminal case of the cuties and it’s easy to see why the design was the inspiration for numerous cartoon cars over the years. Sitting under the same tent as several other Bantams (and some big American 1960s muscle), this car stood out as particularly bizarre.

1987 Cadillac Sedan De Ville
Sale Price: $2,200
Hagerty Price Guide: $1,900 - $5,600
Russo and Steele
OK, there was nothing terribly weird about this car per se, other than its presence at a big-time collector car auction. While RWD full-sized, Goodfellas-era Sedan de Villes have been showing up at auctions with regularity, 1980s front-drivers like this one haven’t. The subject car was resplendent in the full “Get off My Lawn” package including Vogue whitewall tires, gold trim and the coveted “sim-con” (simulated convertible) top. This 90,000 mile octogenarian’s Cadillac had the look of a car that had come straight from a Sun City estate sale. It was one of the least expensive lots in Scottsdale.