’80s and ’90s cars gain major momentum at Arizona auctions
If you’ve heard of nostalgia car show Radwood or regularly dive into the internet hole that is Bring a Trailer, you may have noticed that 1980s and ’90s cars are starting to gain momentum in the collector car market. And it’s not just cars that we knew would be collectible, like Italian exotics or the Porsche 911, it’s everything from hot Honda Civics to Fox-body Mustangs. This is partly a generational movement as Gen X and Millennial buyers start buying their childhood dream cars. But it’s also good news for people who love driving: More cars getting love from owners means more will be around for years to come.
With all that in mind, how are these cars doing in terms of market value? Just like a vintage Pizza Hut ad, ’80s- and ’90s-era collectible cars are makin’ it great. Judging by the results at the 2019 Arizona auction week, the last two decades of the 20th century outperformed all other decades in terms of bid price (including commission) compared to the a car’s condition-appropriate value for both sold and unsold lots. On average, ’80s cars went 32 percent more than expected for condition, while ’90s cars went for 7 percent more.
Further proof that the Radwood decades are hot is that buyers were bidding high on #3 (good) and #4 (fair) condition cars. That is, buyers saw all conditions of ’80s and ’90s cars as more valuable than the Hagerty Price Guide rating. They weren’t being choosy in only buying the best examples, nor were they more conservative on high-value perfect cars.
Backing up those averages are a few highlights that sold much, much higher than expected.
Barrett-Jackson Lot 1348
Sold for: $220,000
HPG #1 (concours) value: $132,000
Barrett-Jackson Lot 851
Sold for: $132,000
HPG #1 (concours) value: $75,600
Barrett-Jackson Lot 859
Sold for: $42,900
HPG #1 (concours) value: $15,300
Barrett-Jackson Lot 167
Sold for: $42,350
HPG #1 (concours) value: $32,300
And then there are the 1980s and ’90s supercars we highlighted before the auctions. The two Vector WX-3 prototypes sold, with the hardtop going well above the high estimate for $615,000 and the roadster right at the top estimate of $500,000 (reportedly the same collector bought both). The pair of Bugatti EB110s, meanwhile, failed to meet reserve. Throughout the rest of those picks prices were within the price rating range. Gooding’s 1989 Ferrari Testarossa, a 150-mile collector-grade car, went for 67-percent more than #1 condition value, but $43,000 less than it sold for at RM Sotheby’s Monterey in 2015. The two biggest stars, a couple Ferrari 288 GTOs, both made the list of 10 biggest sales in Scottsdale this year, with the RM Sotheby’s example going for 24-percent higher than Hagerty’s #1 condition value.
The mixed results of the exotics reflect an Arizona auction crowd that was reticent to spend big dollars. Looking at each decade as a whole, total sales of ’80s cars were up 44 percent ($4.3 million) from the 2018 Arizona auctions, while the ’90s dipped 26 percent ($2.7 million). Still, with plenty of examples of big-dollar sales, it’s clear that ’80s and ’90s cars will be more and more of a fixture on the collector car scene for the rest of this year and beyond.