When it comes to auctions, 2018 was a barnstorming year. Just one week in Monterey brought three cars over $20 million. Records and expensive cars are one thing, but we are here to talk about sales that exceeded expectations. We found several cars that went big, some indicating once-ignored cars are heading toward bona fide collector territory, and signaling potential shifts in the market to come. Here are six breakout ales that stood out in a year of great action, each far exceeding the usual price for a perfect, concours-condition car.
This is one that took even us by surprise, though we have been shouting about the increasing market for trucks and SUVs for some time now. Toyota pickups have a loyal following and great examples of the small yet capable pickups are starting to climb. This 1986 model stands out because it was not a combination of desirable options, though it did have a few goodies. The automatic transmission is typically a drawback (most shoppers prefer a manual), yet this tan 4x4 achieved a strong sale price regardless. These trucks are more and more popular lately, and people are willing to pay for the clean, hard-to-find gems.
We have talked about red-hot Hondas and Acuras a good bit this year, but this ’97 Integra Type R sale set a benchmark that other high sales of the year failed to reach. A rash of Integra Type Rs made waves on the auction site Bring a Trailer this year, reaching $40k a handful of times. But this car sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction with just 1191 miles since it sold new. A cherry, suepr-clean, un-modified example of a car that was often driven hard and altered to the owner’s (sometimes questionable) taste, the car crossed the block in a perfect storm of desirability.
One owner from new with fewer than 15,000 miles on the odometer made this the 500E to buy for those fond of the mid-‘90s Q-ship. The 500E was lighter than the 500 SL sports car at the time, even with its extra set of doors. A 5.0-liter V-8 hides under the hood and, when new, powered the car to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. This specific car had a recent service and full documentation—two things that sure to boost value—but this car seemed to climb just a bit higher than others. It could well be a sign of things to come for the 500E market.
Can’t decide between luxury car, muscle car, and sedan? Check out the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9. Packing a whopping 6.9-liter engine backed by a three-speed automatic transmission, the 450 SEL put a lot of engine in an unassuming package. This sedan has a lot of desirable traits, but only a new, recent appreciation for this model can explain it suddenly realizing well over double its average price to this point for a perfect #1-condition car. Keep an eye on the 6.9.
Sold by Gooding & Company during its Pebble Beach sale in August, this BMW M5 had covered just 500 miles prior to crossing the auction block. A pristine example of a modern car expected to gain momentum in the collector market, this M5 not only showed low mileage but also carried all the right documentation and original tool kit. More than double our #1 valuation, this signals that buyers are searching for great examples of this iconic BMW four-door.
Another Gooding & Company sale, this time at the March Amelia Island sale. One of the best examples of BMW’s first car to utilize a turbocharger, with just two owners from 1980 to current. Fuel injection paired with the turbo to create enough power to make the 2002 a blast to drive, especially given the cars small size and light weight. The 2002 is not a secret car, and the base models have been trending up for some time, but this white coupe with M stripes shattered all expectations and puts the gas even harder on the 2002’s climb.