Sure, Scottsdale is a one-percenter’s playground. Gooding and RM Sotheby’s were headlined this year by Jaguar D-types bid to more than $8 million, and the bidding increments—or the amount the auctioneers are asking from the next bidder—are often more than most people make in a year. If such money porn isn’t your thing, take heart, as there were many deals to be had in Scottsdale for average Joes and Janes.
Hagerty’s valuation team tallied no fewer than 385 car or truck auctions during the week that gaveled at $15,000 or less. If you’d like to get in on this low-buck smorgasbord next year, here’s a tip: go early in the week, when the crowds are lighter and the more blue-jean auction houses such as Silver, Russo and Steele, and even Barrett-Jackson often their cheapest inventory over the block. Meanwhile, here’s our pick of the top nine Scottsdale steals we saw for under $15K in 2018:
It may not have Shelby or 289 badges, but this immaculate Wimbledon White six-cylinder automatic coupe looks a lot more like the Mustangs that most people bought in those early years. A useable classic you wouldn’t mind parking on the street, this Mustang is cheap to run, easy to work on, and it would make a wonderful one-car car show in Anytown, America.
Described as being an honest-to-David-Dunbar-Buick GS, as well as having a rebuilt 350 and signature “staple” shifter, this Skylark ragtop in a lovely blue hue has to be one of the best buys of the Scottsdale week. Name a car offering this much style and open-air fun for this little cash and we’ll eat the hotel soap we sucked on after cursing that we missed this one.
Proving you don’t have to be a big shot to look like one, here’s a Bentley from when Bentley and Rolls-Royce were one happy handmade family in Crewe. The Brooklands trim features a 6.75-liter V-8 with “adequate” horsepower, yards of burl walnut, acres of creamy leather, and coats of hand-sanded forest green paint—all for under 10 grand! Yes, it lacks the oomph of the contemporary Turbo R, but this buyer got one heck of a slab of plutocratic luxury for relative lunch money.
If you’re like most people, you just said, “Qew-valley wha?” But if you know your cars, you know this 4.6-liter Mustang Cobra-powered roadster was hand-built for a few years in Bologna, Italy, in the early 2000s and is as rare as snow in summer. Said to have been upgraded at great expense to over 400 horses, and featuring track-ready five-point harnesses as well as low miles, this Mangusta—which was supposed to be badged a De Tomaso until a joint-venture partnership with the Qvale car dealer family in San Francisco fell apart—will give some lucky cheapskate a great ride as well as the right to be asked, “What is it?” about 50 times a day.
Another killer Scottsdale steal was this Italian funmobile, showing less than 30,000 miles and utterly immaculate inside and out. Hagerty’s sharp-eyed mob of auction hounds swirled around this car for several days, and try as we might, we couldn’t find a single flaw in the paint or evidence of re-spray. The interior and engine compartment were as new. Even the convertible top was perfect, as if the car had spent the past 38 years sitting in the Smithsonian. Some heaven-blessed person proved that time travel is indeed possible, and for under $14k.
And who doesn’t want to combine their passion for off-road rock crawling with their love of vintage public service vehicles? This 455-big-block-powered antique meat wagon was advertised as having only 44,000 miles, although at some point after its red-cross duty it was dropped onto a 1977 Chevy long-bed truck chassis modified with Dana 60 axles turning V-Tec Raptor chrome wheels and Mickey Thompson Baja Radial ATZ tires. If that all sounds like Greek, then this badass rig probably isn’t for you. However, it should be noted that besides sporting a custom airbrushed flame job, the original emergency lights and siren still work. Which means you’ll not only scare the neighborhood children, you’ll annoy their parents, too.
The auto equivalent of the teacup poodle, this Anglo-American mashup looked clean and neat and offered the thrill of three-on-the-tree shifting. With a mere 73 raging cubic inches under the hood, you’d be dicing for pink slips with mobility scooters, but at least you’re assured of finding a parking space afterwards. Yes, we laugh at this icon from the zanier side of the 1950s, but whoever stole this adorable gem will have the pleasure of watching children race past mega-dollar muscle cars and vintage Ferraris for a ride in it.
Something pleases us enormously about work mules that were originally intended for use and abuse but have instead been perfectly preserved. This Datsun 720 with the “big” King Cab is just such a find. Showing about 100,000 miles but advertised as having a rebuilt 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, the 720 hails from the era when small pickups rolled on steel wheels the thickness of pizza cutters, sipped gas, weighed less than today’s Toyota Corolla, and drove like compact hatchbacks. Back then, putting giant “4X4” decals on the doors wasn’t even a thing, but nowadays it is as cool as parachute pants. Let’s hope the new owner, like its original owner, decides not to use this Datsun the way it was meant to be used.
The fact that this wasn’t a real Solihull Land Rover but a Spanish-built Santana probably hurt its value, but who cares? The Daktari fantasies still live large in this 88 IIA, even though this truck served 30 years not with fun-loving African biologists but with Spain’s Policia Nacional before coming to America. The 2.5-liter diesel was said to have only 25,000 miles on it, and it was offered with both hard and soft tops. Whether wrangling rhinos, rounding up Spanish bootleggers, or just cruising car shows, this Rover looked authentic and was well bought.