From subtle to shouty: American treasures at Barrett-Jackson 2022

Brandan Gillogly

The dust is finally settling after a superheated Scottsdale Auction Week. The grandaddy of the Arizona car auctions—Barrett-Jackson—held its event January 28th and 29th, but if you weren’t able to be there, we’ve done all the hard work for you. In addition to a recap of the entire, expectation-smashing week, we spent extra time scouring B-J’s tents, checking out every single car.

Below, some of the highlights: 13 American classics, hand-picked by our experts, that stand out from the usual fare.

1931 Cord L29 Cabriolet

Lot 1292.1

Sold for: $275,000

Cord entered 1929 battling prestigious brands, but within reason—this Cabriolet’s $3500 price had it nestled between similar Cadillac V-8 and V-12 models. The Cord’s trump card was front-wheel drive, a huge curiosity at the time. The car also offered a more rakish design, its long and low lines assisted visually by a 137.5-inch wheelbase. Next to anything from the period, the Cord’s height (or lack thereof) makes it seem more modern. Power came from a 299-cubic-inch Lycoming straight-eight.

1932 Ford B-50 Sport Coupe (Harry Jackman’s “Wild Cherry-Ette”)

Lot #1096.1

Sold for: $82,500

Ford sold fewer than 3000 Sport Coupes for 1932. The model didn’t return for 1933 and is still relatively uncommon. This Sport Coupe in particular is an award-winning hot rod from the pastime’s heyday, and it appeared in many publications between 1959 and 1962. The original car no longer exists, but its body was found and used as the basis for a recreation by Harry Jackman, the original builder. Power comes from a 312 Y-block V-8.

1956 El Morocco

For 1955, GM design chief Harley Earl tried to inject some Cadillac-flavored style into the Chevrolet lineup. Customizer Reuben Allender took the idea one step further. His El Morocco brand gave this ’56 Chevrolet “Dagmar” front bumperettes, gold DeSoto wheel covers, and fiberglass tailfins. In 1956, a new El Morocco commanded a $1000 premium over an ordinary Chevy Bel Air. Around 30 are believed to have been built for 1956 and 1957.

1958 Pontiac Parisienne

Lot #1326

Sold for: $192,500

In the 1950s, duty taxes caused imported, American-spec Pontiacs to become somewhat pricey in Canada. As such, General Motors Canada built Pontiacs on Chevrolet chassis—so-called Poncheauxs—and gave the cars names with cultural connections. The Parisienne is the best-known of the bunch. This particular example shares trim with the Pontiac Bonneville, but it’s more like a Chevrolet Impala with Pontiac styling and power. Power came from a 348 with tri-carbs and a four-speed transmission.

1958 Thunderbird “Kopper Kaballero”

Lot #180

Sold for: $41,800

“Squarebirds” are a dime a dozen in the vintage-car world, popular with collectors for eons. This one is a bit different. While the general vibe is straight from the 1970s custom scene, the build is a modern California creation and has even appeared in Custom Rodder magazine. There are no drastic changes here, just a quality paint job, light custom touches, and fine detailing. Imagine a hot rod you can hop in and drive anywhere. At this price, someone left Scottsdale satisfied.

1961 Chevrolet Biscayne Fleetmaster

Lot #1291

Sold for: $110,000

Chevrolet’s legendary 409 V-8 debuted in 1961. Examples of that engine built that year are rare enough, but most seem to have been installed in “bubbletop” Impalas. Low-grade Biscayne Fleetmasters with the W-block are hen’s teeth by comparison. This example, claimed to be the only one built, was bought new by Oregon racer Allen May. He ordered it without radio or heater and began setting SS/S drag-race records almost immediately. This car is seminal early Chevy muscle and worthy of the best muscle-car collection out there.

1968 Chevrolet Chevelle 300

Lot #698

Sold for: $46,200

It’s easy to forget that the relatively tame 300 and 300 Deluxe supported the bottom end of Chevelle production through the 1960s. At that point in history, big-blocks clearly commanded the attention, but small-block performance fans could still order the L79 327 through 1968 (built since 1967, rated at 325 hp). Only 4082 L79 Chevelle 300s were produced, and finding one in the less-expensive “post” hardtop model—the term connotes the presence of a B-pillar—is a mean feat. Now imagine one with a floor-shifted three-speed. Unbelievably rare.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28

Lot #1043

Sold for: $126,500

Oh boy, another Chevrolet. And a Camaro at that. At Barrett-Jackson? Ho-hum. But check out how this Z is trimmed: white vinyl top, white stripes (though the restorer admitted it had black stripes from the factory), white houndstooth interior. White trim is far from unusual in a Camaro, but when paired with Daytona Yellow, it makes for a pony car different from all the others. The perfect example of how a belly-button car … doesn’t have to be one.

1969 Mustang Mach I

Lot #1469

Sold for: $181,500

Speaking of belly buttons, 1969 Mach Is are a dime a dozen at Barrett-Jackson and seemingly everywhere else. Even Cobra Jet Mustangs are not rare, with over 13,000 built for 1969, most of them Mach Is. Even Mach Is with the Drag Pack are not particularly rare. But check out the color: Midnight Orchid was a Thunderbird color that was special-ordered here, and the gold stripes are the perfect complement. Falling in love yet?

1969 Plymouth Road Runner

Lot #469

Sold for: $52,800

383 Road Runners used to be reasonably affordable, but these cars are starting to get pricey. A ton of them were built with that engine—this coupe is one of a whopping 32,368 to leave the line so equipped. That said, this particular example is one of just 583 featuring two-tone paint. A black car with a white top is a sharp combination. Mix in flat-black “V21” hood stripes, you have yourself an attainable but unique muscle car, different from every other vehicle at the local drag.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS/RS 350 “Cutaway Car”

Lot #1369

Sold for: $385,000

It should be easy to see why we singled this one out. Built on the first day of ’69 Camaro production, this Le Mans Blue hardtop cutaway is one of just two Camaros sectioned like this at the factory. It was delivered to GM Creative Services, the department tasked with creating custom promotional displays for auto shows. This very machine was a hit at the 1969 Detroit Autorama, and it finished its tour of duty at the ’69 New York Coliseum auto show. Despite all the traveling, the odometer shows just 2.4 miles.

1970 Mustang Convertible

Lot #1336.1 (blue), Lot #1336.2 (green)

$220,000 (blue), $192,500 (green)

Haters are gonna hate, but here’s another Mustang—two of ‘em! But these are Mustangs with a story. 428 Cobra Jet ragtops are rare enough, with 47 built and only 33 of those equipped with shaker hoods. This pair represent two of the five that were prepared for pace-car duty at tracks owned by American Raceway, Inc. (ARI). Those five cars went to Atlanta and Riverside International Raceways, and to Eastern, Michigan, and Texas International Speedways. All were automatics, and these feature two of Ford’s strongest hues: Grabber Blue and Grabber Green.

1982 Buick Grand National

Lot #672

Sold for: $33,000

Those big, bad, black 1984-87 Grand Nationals turned the American performance world on its ear when they were new. That said, few people know that the first year for the GN Buick was 1982, or that the model skipped 1983 altogether. As homage to Buick’s 1981 and 1982 wins in NASCAR’s manufacturers cup, 215 gray Regals were sent to Cars and Concepts for paint and trim highlights, plus front and rear spoilers and special seats. It was long believed that these cars received only Buick’s naturally aspirated, 3.8-liter V-6, but we now know that a handful of turbos were built. This one has been modified with a 6.0-liter LS2 and several other upgrades.

Read next Up next: The 10 most expensive cars at 2022’s red-hot January auctions

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