And what the year ahead may hold.
9 incredible details we loved from the 2020 Arizona Auctions
As always, there were too many great cars floating around the 2020 Arizona Auction Week to cover them all. Sweet hot rods, ambitious resto-mods, cryogenically preserved Euro touring cars that look showroom fresh, and even an MGA stripped down to its bare metal. Nevertheless, during my time on the ground in Scottsdale, certain details I noticed on a select group of cars really stuck with me.
Here are nine unforgettable details on the sensational cars of Scottsdale 2020.
The paint on this 1957 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Two-Door Hardtop
This lovely Golden Rocket has all the right looks. Its stunning Dove Gray paint scheme with Ice Green accents positively popped under the Gooding & Company auction tent. There were probably fancier, more expensive, or more exclusive paint jobs to ogle at Arizona Auction Week, but of everything I saw, this two-tone finish—laden in chrome—dazzled best.
The wing on this perfect 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16v Evolution II
This Evo II at Gooding & Company was just about flawless. Showing a mere 7600 km, it’s the type of car you put in a museum inside a velvet-roped area and then assign it an armed guard just in case anyone looks at it wrong. Someone, evidently, thought it was worth $434,000 (!!). For my part, I couldn’t take my eyes off that beautiful wing. Yes, there were plenty of Superbirds and such with bigger rear spoilers, but I love how the Evo II’s tall wing enhances the effect of what—to the untrained eye—could be dismissed as just a boxy ’90s Mercedes.
The total commitment on this 1960 Volkswagen Type 2 ‘Donut’ Bus
It’s one thing to overhaul and customize a Volkswagen Bus, but to keep a real period-utilized mobile doughnut van alive is truly a service to the vintage VW community. Back in the 1960s, an industrious fellow had the idea to sell freshly made doughnuts to Dayton-based GM workers in Ohio. When the business unexpectedly closed soon into the venture, the owner put the Type 2 into storage for almost 45 years, until it emerged in 2008. Details like the front tire cover, illuminated sign on top, plus the interior sink and doughnut tray, make this van impossible to glaze over.
The fabulous coachwork on this 1956 Jaguar XK140 “Aerodyne”
A one-off passion project executed by Nissan designer John Toom, this unique coachbuilt piece of Art Deco sculpture is truly special. It’s built on a Jaguar XK140 chassis, but most everything else was custom-built under Toom’s watchful eye. Operating out of Toom’s garage, the project apparently took 13 years—Toom’s friend Ron Kellogg took over the Aerodyne’s development for the final two years after the designer’s death. What blows me away is that the car is so ambitious, yet also so cohesive. Somehow the giant pontoon fenders, tall grille, super-sharp fastback roof, ovoid rear glass, and tiny taillights all exist in a crazy sort of balance. The cabin is equally exuberant, but the personal touch on the dazzling array of gauges—designed by Toom’s daughter Jodi—takes this aerodynamic throwback to the next level.
The slippery side mirrors on this 1991 Vector W8 Twin Turbo
On the best supercars, everything is extreme. The windshield wiper on the Countach, for example, is a one-armed two-blade affair that looks more like a lance from the set of Terminator than a cleaning tool. The same goes for the side mirror on this Vector W8 that was on display at RM Sotheby’s. The mirror is impossibly thin, exaggerated in its length, and it has a scoop in it, because this is a boutique supercar from the 1990s. It’s weird and unnecessary. It’s also perfect.
The steering wheel on this 1961 Plymouth Fury Convertible
Just look at this thing! Ignoring the fantastic hexagonal shape, the steering wheel on this Fury has a rim made from some vaguely transparent gold resin, overlaid with sumptuous copper and chrome. This entire dashboard is an absolute thing of beauty, in fact. When people say “they don’t build ’em like they used to,” this is what they mean. Even the most outrageously expensive cars sold today don’t have steering wheels that look like this, and in 1961 you could get it in a Plymouth dealership.
The huge bumper on this 1958 Oldsmobile Super 88 Convertible
Overly large bumpers can be distracting when it comes to a car’s design, but this ’58 Olds isn’t afraid to flaunt what it’s got. The huge slab of chrome slapped onto the Super 88’s rear is so wide that even with the exposed spare tire positioned on the back side of the trunk, four kids holding ice creams could stand comfortably on it for a low-speed cruise around the neighborhood. Yeah, the ’50s were a different time.
The patina on this 1931 Cadillac V-16 Seven-Passenger Imperial Sedan
Possibly the most criminally overlooked car across all of Arizona Auction Week 2020, “Blue Boy,” has seen some things in its lifetime. You can tell, because it wears the evidence of time passed with its all-original bodywork and interior. The paint has just the right degree of fade. Inside, the beautifully appointed interior is complete with a crank-up partition, leg rests, window shades, and magnificently sculpted handles. It’s a testament to when Cadillac was building some of the best vehicles in the entire world. It sold for $72,800 at RM Sotheby’s, which was really a steal for the new owner.
The grill in this 2005 Ford Taurus stock car
Yes, a grill, not a grille—in the stock car. Because this racer has an actual grill, allegedly suitably for cooking, installed in the trunk. Certainly one way to take your sponsorship deal to its illogical conclusion.