5 bargains from Auburn Spring 2017 you wish you bought

Buick didn’t build any cars in 1944. They did build tank destroyers, though. Just like the one Auctions America sold at their biannual Auburn, Ind., sale.

Yes, the Buick M18 Hellcat sold for $247,500, just a small part of Auctions America $8.8M in total sales. The auction also featured other interesting military equipment and several modern race cars. But as is often the case at Auburn, there were more stories further down the price ladder. The average price this year was $37,769, lifted by sales such as the aforementioned Buick Hellcat. Once again, Auburn was a solid sale for enthusiasts who were on the hunt but also on a budget, with lots of good driver-quality cars offered without a reserve. Here are five of the biggest bargains.

1947 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet
Average condition #3 value: $55,500
Sold for: $27,500
The first generation Lincoln Continental was introduced in 1939, but continued into the postwar years. Its shape was striking enough to be included in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and with a 4.8-liter V-12 under the hood, it was both powerful and smooth. The Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) also recognizes these Continentals as Full Classics, which permits plenty of event eligibility. The example in Auburn was one of 738 convertibles built in 1947, and although it didn’t have much in the way of history or documentation, it was in presentable condition and represented with its original drivetrain. The price paid here would normally buy a ratty project car, not an attractive and seemingly event-ready example like this.

1987 Buick Grand National
Average condition #3 value: $23,400
Sold for: $12,375
The first Buick Grand Nationals debuted in 1982, but it’s the 1987 model that people want. It was the Buick’s G-body’s final year and the Grand National’s fastest year. It posted a quarter-mile time of 13.85 seconds, allowed by its 245 hp turbocharged V-6. Values have surged for these ‘80s sleepers over the past several years, with carefully preserved low-mileage examples bringing particularly strong money at auction. This once-repainted driver quality example, though, flew under bidders’ radar in Auburn, selling for less than beater money.

1956 Bentley S1 Standard Steel Saloon
Average condition #3 value: $34,000
Sold for: $6,270
Once all is said and done, this one probably won’t be a bargain. The project Bentley’s new owner will be well into five figures deep just for leather, wood, and paint. Obviously, this doesn’t even include mechanical work. Still, buying a hand-built classic English luxury car—one that’s essentially a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud with different grille and badges—for so little is a steal, especially considering that even project examples can command 20 grand. If a restoration is too daunting, the new owner could potentially part this car out for more than what it cost.

1966 Lincoln Continental Convertible
Average condition #3 value: $28,200
Sold for: $11,000
More so than ‘40s Continentals, the fourth generation Continental of the ‘60s is an American design icon. It is most celebrated—particularly in convertible form—for its strikingly low ride height and of course its suicide rear doors. The ’66 convertible example in Auburn was far from perfect and indeed quite tired, but still brought about half of what an example in its condition would normally expect to bring.

1980 GMC Caballero
Average condition #3 value: $8,900
Sold for: $6,380
Many people don’t know that the GMC Caballero ever existed, largely because its sibling, the Chevy El Camino, outsold it so thoroughly. For example, in 1980 well over 40,000 El Caminos sold, while Caballero production totaled less than a tenth of that. People also didn’t tend to take particularly good care of vehicles like this so their survival rate has been low, making this one at Auburn a rare sight. In presentable driver condition, it could have brought another two or three grand without being expensive. It’s not the steal of the century, but it’s a tempting price for such a rare car. Or truck.

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