5 Bargain Sports Cars from Mecum’s Kissimmee Auction


It’s easy to get lost in the six-figure muscle cars and the big-sale Ferraris that dominate headlines during busy points in the auction season. Even as the market cools, auctions like Mecum Kissimmee can make it feel as though many cars have gotten out of reach. There are still deals to be had, for the intrepid bidder, though. Sometimes it takes finding a car that might not appeal to the typical buyer at that auction, or being willing to pick up something that could use a little work. Here are five cars from Mecum Kissimmee that offer plenty of fun and were comparatively well-bought.

1995 MG RV8 ($30,250)

1995 MG RV8

This is an obscure car with an interesting back story that borders on the bizarre. The mega-popularity of the Mazda MX-5 reminded the Brits—who had a virtual monopoly on sport cars in the immediate post-war era—that there was still profit to be had in the segment. With a pitifully small R&D budget (reputed to be under $10,000,000), Rover decided to utilize the new MGB bodyshells that it was supplying to the aftermarket as the basis for an updated MGB V8. The RV8 used the higher windscreen of the B GT for more headroom, the 3.9 liter Range Rover V8 gave the car decent poke and great noise, and the leather and wood interior was top notch Rolls/Bentley quality.  All of the 1982 cars produced were right-hand drive.

For the money that one might expect to pay for a really good TR6, the buyer here got something several orders of magnitude better, faster, more comfortable, and much more interesting.

1988 Ferrari 328 GTS ($77,000)

1988 Ferrari 328 GTS

As a long-term owner of a Ferrari 308, I know there’s a lot to like about these cars, and very little to dislike. As the final development of the 308, which dated back to 1975, 328s are attractive, make great noises, and contrary to what most people believe, they’re quite easy to live with. Not much goes wrong, the engine most emphatically does not have to come out for a major service, which, at the right Ferrari indie shop, costs under $5,000 and takes place in five year intervals. Its arguably the last Ferrari that is DIY friendly. There really are very few tasks that a mechanically inclined owner can’t accomplish, and parts support is quite good.

Although red isn’t my jam for a 328, it’s what most people want, and at $77,000 including fees, this 45,000 mile example was well bought in comparison to the $15,000 or so more it might have brought a year ago. To put it into perspective, a much more common 911 Carrera G50 coupe with similar miles still might come close to breaking $100,000.

1994 Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster ($27,500)

1994 Dodge Viper

If you’re reading this, the Viper probably doesn’t need much introduction. A totally analog brute of a car—if the 427 Cobra had remained in production for another 25 years, it probably would have resembled the original Viper. The fact that it happened at all was nothing short of miraculous and Vipers remain undervalued cars with a huge upside.

At first glance, I thought this was a misprint in the auction results—Somebody walked off with a Dodge Viper for the price of a two-year old Accord. 25 grand. Let that sink in. Yes, there’s some evidence this car needs some straightening out—it’s slightly modded, and the panel gaps on the hood are pretty significant. But, if the car has no major needs or something terrible in its history, this sale represents a good way to get into a very characterful 400 horses at a solid discount.

1987 Pontiac Trans Am GTA ($10,450)

1987 Pontiac Trans Am GTA

The Trans Am GTA was more of a grown-up’s Firebird, typically decked to the gills with options. ‘87s offered a 210-horse 5.7-liter V-8 with tuned port fuel injection that made an impressive 300 lb. ft. of torque. The GTA package also got you four-wheel discs and the WS6 suspension package. It was one of the cars that helped make it clear that the malaise era was over, and it’s certainly significant for that. This one had just 88,000 miles on it, and a Knight Rider KITT-esque digital dash.

Why is it a deal? Because $10k. For whatever reason, GM F-body cars of the ’80s don’t get quite as much love as the Fox-body Mustang. It’s a shame really—they’re good-looking, credible performance cars, and this GTA, unlike its 1970s predecessors, should be reasonably fun on a twisty road with the upgraded sway-bars, springs, and shocks that you get with the WS6 package. At just over $10,000, this strikes me as one of the better deals of the sale.

1990 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE ($27,500)

1990 Lotus Esprit Turbo SE

Giorgetto Giugiaro’s origami wedge that would become the original Lotus Esprit was such a seminal design, it was a naturally tough act to follow. The first facelift of the Lotus Esprit, done by Peter Stevens, wasn’t initially viewed as a success. It has, however, aged really well, as has this particular example. The red paint remains glossy, the trunk and engine compartment appear tidy, and the wear-prone supple leather interior has held up reasonably well. I’ve owned one, and while not exactly maintenance-free, they’re not as bad to live with as you might think, assuming the previous owners stayed on top of things.

Because they’re four-cylinder cars, and because of the fact that they have a reputation for being irritating to own, Stevens-body Esprits are the deal in the exotic car world. That said, parts and real expertise are available, they’re far more DIY-friendly than a contemporary Ferrari or Lamborghini, and Esprits very much look the part of ’90s supercar. At well under $30,000, the new owner should be quite pleased.




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    The devils in the details. I did not see all these cars but the Viper I saw the details. It was a mess. The right window was like it was tared in to place and the hood had so much orange peel it was origible.

    That car was rode hard and put away very wet. By the time you fixed everything you would be able to buy a car with no other work.

    The others were low prices but like the Viper i suspect there were reasons.

    Remember auctions live and on line are often dumping grounds for others failures. Yes you can sometimes find a real deal but too often these guys know the worth on a car and let them go no reserve they are dumping trouble.

    The first thing I thought when I saw it was that it ate a Jersey wall at some point in its past life. If the drivetrain is solid and the frame isn’t actually bent, it still might be worth a gamble

    The Cobra ” probably would have resembled the original Viper ” , I’m guessing probably not. The Viper, as much as it was thought to be a next generation Cobra, looks like the styling came more from the Daytona instead of the original AC bodied cars. So much so it’s no wonder that the GTS was an improvement over the roadster. I’d think Fords 2004 Cobra concept/prototype is closer to a what might have been, only less “Teutonic” as J Mays remarked about it later. Then there was the beautiful Shelby GR-1 as well. The lines of the 328 and Esprit have stayed relatively fresh in a way where the Vipers have become as dated as its shared family design grille.

    There is a couple of them up there where the cheap cost of admission will probably quickly get eaten up with the cost of ownership

    I sell the cars I would never sell to customer to other dealers who bring them to auction with glee. Buyer beware

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