’80s and ’90s cars gain major momentum at Arizona auctions

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1993 Vector Avtech WX-3R Roadster Prototype RM Sotheby's

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.

1988 Ferrari Testarossa

1988 Ferrari Testarossa red 3/4 front
1988 Ferrari Testarossa Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson Lot 1348

Sold for: $220,000

HPG #1 (concours) value: $132,000

1993 Mustang SVT Cobra R

1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R 3/4 front red
1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson Lot 851

Sold for: $132,000

HPG #1 (concours) value: $75,600

1989 Ford Mustang LX Hatchback

1989 Ford Mustang LX rear 3/4
1989 Ford Mustang LX Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson Lot 859

Sold for: $42,900

HPG #1 (concours) value: $15,300

1987 Buick Regal T-Type Turbo Limited

1987 Buick Regal T-type white 3/4 front
1987 Buick Regal T-type Barrett-Jackson

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.

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