9 cars that broke our price guide at RM Sotheby’s Elkhart auction

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RM Sotheby's

Someone paid $1440 for a trash can at the RM Sotheby’s Elkhart Collection sale this past weekend. That should clue you in to the kind of money being thrown around there—and that’s before we even get to the vehicles. A 1936 White touring bus sold for $450,500, triple its estimate. A modified FJ43 Land Cruiser sold for $173,600. The list goes on.

This highly publicized sale liquidated the collection of an Indiana-based businessman currently tangled up in a $100M court case. It included an eclectic group of over 240 cars, 30 motorcycles, tons of spare parts, a boat, and a few trailers. Originally set for May 1, 2020, and delayed until October due to the pandemic, the collection attracted a lot of hype. When it finally took place, the sale attracted a lot of money, too.

Several cars broke their value ceiling in the Hagerty Price Guide (their #1-condition, or Concours value), and we’ll look at them in detail below.

By the way, we found that same $1440 trash can for $299.95 on Amazon.

1984 Jeep CJ-7 Renegade

Sold for $36,960

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $30,000

It’s not exactly breaking news that vintage Broncos, Blazers, Jimmys, and Jeeps are a lot more expensive than they once were. An ’84 Cj-7 Renegade is worth about twice what it was 10 years ago. Over 30 grand, though? Crazy money.

Normally, this is the point in the write-up where we tell you the auction car was gleaming low-mile perfection and that no, the CJ in your neighbor’s driveway isn’t worth $35,000 all of a sudden. Not the case here, however. This Jeep looks clean, but it is neither spotless nor the recipient of a serious restoration—and the odometer shows 98,939 miles. That makes the price even crazier.

1952 MG TD

Sold for $39,200

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $35,200

The T-Series MG famously got Americans to fall in love with sports cars and it launched countless racing careers, including Carroll Shelby’s. These are still relatively affordable little roadsters, and over the past few years they’ve been getting even more affordable. In other words, they’ve gotten cheaper.

The TD, built from 1950–53, is the middle child of the T-Series family. It’s worth the least and has been depreciating more significantly than either the TC that preceded it or the TF that followed. This price, then, was surprising. Anything over $20,000 for a TD is enough to get our attention; nearly 40 grand had us scratching our heads. It’s not quite a world record, but it’s close.

1958 Fiat 600 Multipla

Sold for $71,680

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $62,500

In the classic car world, cute sells. Even if it’s that special, ugly kind of cute. The original Fiat Multipla certainly fits the bill.

Based on the Fiat 600, the Multipla can fit up to six people in a tiny platform. In the 1970s Italy, Multiplas frequently appeared as taxis. Other restored Multiplas have sold in the $40,000–$50,000 range, but this one soared past its $45,000 high estimate.

1954 Buick Roadmaster Convertible

Sold for $140,000

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $126,000

Are 1950s Buicks the next hot thing? No, probably not. What this result shows, though, is that serious buyers are willing to pay (and, in some cases, overpay) for a top-quality car with no needs and no excuses. This Roadmaster boasted a fresh, high-dollar restoration, meaning the new owner wouldn’t have to worry about paint, trim, or diagnosing any mechanical quirks. The nice color doesn’t hurt, either. Postwar American cars may be one of the colder segments of the market, but the best examples still bring strong money.

1972 Honda Z 600 

Sold for $25,760

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $24,600

In yet another case of “small car, big money,” This Z 600 defied all expectations, including RM’s $20,000 high estimate. The N600 and the Z 600 are significant cars; they were the first Honda automobiles officially sold in the United States, several years before the groundbreaking Civic. For most of their existence, though, these cars were just cheap wheels that got used, then tossed. It’s rare to see one at all, let alone one that someone has taken the time to restore, like this example. The new owner may have paid beyond top dollar for this Z, but at least they can claim to have the nicest one around with some degree of confidence.

The Elkhart collection also had an earlier 1970 N600 that did even better, selling for $34,720 despite having the same $20,000 high estimate. That car, however, didn’t break our price guide—because it isn’t in our price guide. Perhaps it’s time to add it.

1961 Metropolitan 1500 Convertible

Sold for $78,400

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $29,200

The Metropolitan (sold as a Nash and a Hudson, as well as under a simple “Metropolitan” badge) was a subcompact before the term was even coined, and it often sold to American families who needed a second car for shopping and commuting. While small and stylish, the Metropolitan was neither luxurious nor sporty, and these days it makes for a tempting entry-level classic. These are not expensive cars—at least, they aren’t supposed to be.

Even very good Metropolitans usually sell in the teens; though this one wears a fresh, award-winning restoration by a Metropolitan specialist, the price (which is a world record) has us slack-jawed. The very next lot in the auction was a 1957 Nash model, and it sold for the also-huge but not-quite-as-crazy sum of $39,200.

1966 Honda S600 Coupe

Sold for $39,200

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $33,000

Someone must have been really itching for a cool winter project, because this much money for a half-finished Honda restoration with no title defies logic.

The S600 was one of Honda’s very first automobiles, and it borrows a lot from the company’s experience with motorcycles, including chain drive to the rear wheels and a compact, high-revving twin-cam four. Available as a roadster or a coupe, it has performance comparable to cars like the MG Midget, but the Honda is a lot more sophisticated, a lot rarer, and a lot more expensive. Just not this much more expensive. RM had a $20,000 high estimate on this example, and that seemed about right.

1973 Opel GT

Sold for $30,240

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $26,900

GM sold about 70,000 Opel GTs at Buick dealerships from 1968–73, although Father Time (and Father Rust) has taken many of these “Baby Corvettes” off the road. Their values are up 13 percent over the last five years, but these are still some of the cheapest classic sports cars you can buy and have been for some time, so they rarely get pampered. That’s what makes this car, an all-original and crazy-clean GT with just 14,995 actual miles, so special. That someone kept it so clean despite it having the optional three-speed automatic is even more remarkable. The bidders ignored the lack of a third pedal and, at this price, you might say they ignored logic, too.

1966 Amphicar Model 770

Sold for $128,800

Hagerty Price Guide #1-condition value: $89,900

Six figures on a small gimmicky car isn’t unheard of. Just ask anybody who’s bought a Fiat Jolly in recent years. Still, this is serious coin for an Amphicar—a world record, in fact. The only other Amphicars to cross the six-figure mark were a rare right-hand drive model that sold for $101,750 at Kissimmee, 2018, and one that sold for $123,200 in Scottsdale in 2011.

To be fair, this one out of the Elkhart collection wears a fresh restoration and is probably one of the best ones available. And it has reportedly been “lake tested” multiple times, so it should be able to successfully perform the Amphicar’s party piece—driving in and out of the water—relatively worry-free. Good luck to the new owner, though; the National Amphicar Club’s motto is “united we float, divided we sink.”

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