Arizona Auction Week 2018 is in the rearview, and the headlines reporting several record prices and nearly $250,000,000 in total auction sales paint a clear picture: Collecting is a big money game. To be fair, in a lot of ways that’s true. It also seems like many folks are concerned more about the investment potential of collector cars rather than the whole reason most of us got into this hobby in the first place: To have fun with old cars and hopefully get out with our shirts on.
If you’re in the 99-percent camp, don’t worry that you’ve been priced out of the market. There are some great buys, and great cars, out there for us commoners that just want a reasonably priced collector car or truck to have some fun with and enjoy what the hobby is all about. In the shadows of the spotlight sales, opportunity abounds at less than the price of a new luxury SUV. And while I could post a hundred examples of this from the 2018 Scottsdale auctions alone, I’ll limit myself to these five cool rides that sold for $50k or less.
Yes, I know MG T-Series cars have fallen somewhat out of favor, and it isn’t hard to find one for sale. But nobody can argue they are fun to drive, cheap to own, easy (and dare I say enjoyable?) to work on, and are one of the most classic British sports car model lines of all time.
This particular TD had an honest, well-loved feel you couldn’t help but notice, likely the result of being owned by the consignor, remarkably, for almost 50 years. The car featured a 17-year-old very correct restoration that still looked fresh. It has won numerous shows, had a rare aftermarket hardtop, and was the car chosen by Hemmings for its MG TD Buyer’s Guide feature in 2011.
Offered without reserve and a $30,000-$40,000 pre-sale estimate, this charming little TD hammered at just $18,000, for an all-in price of $19,800. At this price it is a car that could be used in any number of events, MG Club gatherings and Sunday morning coffee runs for years, virtually for free or even with a slight profit at the end.
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know how popular the first-generation 1966-1977 Broncos have become in the last few years. They are the fastest appreciating vehicles noted by our Hagerty Valuation team, leading the equally-hot vintage SUV market. And with good reason. These little buggers are fun. With its short wheelbase, coil-spring front suspension, removable top, and a plethora of available options including a V-8 engine, the Bronco is very much an off-road sports car—especially when compared to its slower and more utilitarian contemporaries like the Toyota FJ40. Which is why great (i.e., non-rusty, not modified) Broncos have been selling for well over $50,000 for quite some time.
As such, this nicely restored and reportedly rust-free “uncut” (meaning the rear wheel openings have not been cut open to make room for bigger than stock tires, a common occurrence) example with the optional 302-cu-in V-8 was estimated to sell between $55,000-$65,000. But it was offered at no reserve and snapped up by a bidder who was paying attention for a hammer price of $33,000, or $36,300 all-in. And, unlike any new SUV you could buy for that kind of money, the Bronco won’t be worth 50 percent less in three years.
Ok, full disclosure, I’m going to bend my $50K cap slightly because this Shelby sold for $51,000, or $56,100 all-in. So it’s $50,000-ish. But even at that price it sold at about half of the average Hagerty Price Guide value, more proof that sometimes it pays to pay attention at a huge no-reserve auction.
And yes, this GT500 had the less-desirable automatic transmission (a 20-percent price penalty according to our guide) and had other issues, including being “personalized” to the former owner’s tastes and that never bodes well for value. But it was a solid car, and a real Shelby GT500 that could be improved quite a bit with some research, a few bucks in parts, some elbow grease, and patience. Even without any of that, this GT500 gains its new owner entry into any number of great Mustang Club of America (MCA) and Shelby American Automobile Club (SAAC) events, which are just fantastic for the whole family. So while it may not be the best Shelby, or the most coveted model, it is a real-deal car that sold for a lot less than most Shelby replicas do. And I don’t think I have to explain which is better when it comes time to sell.
Long before Nissan thought of coining the phrase “4-Door Sports Car” for the Maxima, Jaguar was building them. The timeless Mk II sedan, produced from 1959 to 1967, is proof of this. Achingly elegant yet muscular looking all at the same time, their exteriors are bettered only by their incredible interiors brimming with aromatic Connoly leather, hardware that feels as if it was made by Ruger, and a gorgeous wood dashboard filled with almost as many Smiths gauges as a WWII Spitfire.
But the real trick is that these trim, nimble sedans housed the famous XK DOHC straight-six engine, four-wheel disc brakes, and a sporting suspension within their advanced (for the time) unibody chassis. And the most desirable of these Mk IIs are fitted with the 3.8-liter version of the XK engine backed by a four-speed manual transmission with electronic overdrive, the exact specification of this example.
Better yet, this car reportedly has original paint and interior, long-term single ownership and a recent comprehensive servicing. With a logical pre-sale estimate of $50,000–$60,000, this lovely temptress sold at no reserve for an astonishingly low $21,000 at the hammer, for a total of $23,100 all-in. That’s about the same cost as a proper assortment of options on a new Jaguar F-Pace SUV. I can tell you which I’d rather drive.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know what the hell this was either. Turns out it is a one-of-one concept car built by William Molzon, a GM designer of note who worked under Larry Shinoda. In 1963 Molzon set out to build a car that would be faster than a new Corvette yet handle like a Lotus. And, by the time it was completed in 1969, all reports indicate he did.
Weighing just 1100 pounds this tube-frame, fiberglass bodied coupe is powered by a 200-hp modified 2.8-liter Corvair six-cylinder engine mated to a Porsche five-speed transaxle. And, at 38.5 inches tall, I suppose it was also easy to come up with the model name and better the Ford GT40 all in one fell swoop. The GT38’s cool factor is enhanced by the fact that Road & Track took notice of it and featured it with a road test article in 1970, raving about how quick and agile the car was.
But, like most concept cars, especially those built by moonlighting stylists, this one car was as far as the concept went. For the next nearly 50 years Molzon retained ownership of the GT38, adding a scant 950 miles to its odometer. Offered at no reserve, against a pre-sale estimate of $100,000-$125,000, the Molzon GT38 hammered at just $38,000, or $41,800 all-in. And on a funkiness-for-the dollar scale this thing is World Champion. It is reportedly fully functional, which is a rarity in itself for a one-off concept, especially one built by a GM designer at a time when few thought such a man could do such an ambitious thing. It is also a virtual time capsule, and guaranteed to draw a crowd at any show on earth. Plus, the Molzon could get you into high-end events, such as the Ameila Island Concours, that routinely feature such crazy contraptions. I’d say it is hard to put a price on all of this, but at $41,800 I’m going to call this a great buy for all it represents.