6 slick bargains from the 2021 January Auctions


The January Auctions were very different this year. Some longstanding sales didn’t take place at all. Even so, it was a very busy month with 2239 vehicles sold between Mecum Kissimmee (the world’s largest collector car auction), Mecum’s “Muscle Car City” auction, and the four auctions usually held live in the Scottsdale, Arizona area. (These pressed on in modified form, the manner of which varied from house to house.)

We watched and we analyzed. As always, the results brought with them some interesting surprises. Some cars defied middling expectations with huge prices, while others flew under the radar at bargain prices. Frankly, however, between the consistent, surprisingly strong bidding in Kissimmee, the more focused high-dollar consignment lists in Scottsdale, and the absence of Barrett-Jackson’s and Russo and Steele’s auctions in Scottsdale this year, bargain pickings weren’t as plentiful in 2021 as they have been in the past. Here are six of the cars that snuck their way through a strong bidding atmosphere.

1965 Oldsmobile Starfire Convertible

1965 Oldsmobile Starfire front three-quarter

Sold for $14,300, Mecum Kissimmee, Lot L53.1

#3-condition (Good) value: $27,400

A period ad boasted that the Starfire “sparkles with distinction,” but this one crossed the block early in the week and apparently didn’t sparkle enough to start a bidding war. As a ’65 model it lacks the nifty brushed aluminum side trim of the earlier Starfires, but it does have the new-for-1965 425-cubic-inch Rocket V-8, which puts out 370 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. It was Olds’ most powerful engine that year, offering more oomph even than the 442. Starfires also came with leather bucket seats and power everything.

This one shows some wear and tear but nothing that would be cause for alarm. And at this price, the style, rarity, and cubic inches per dollar make it a savvy buy.

2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

2006 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe front three-quarter

Sold for $29,700, Mecum Kissimmee, Lot W124.1

#3-condition (Good) value: $33,500

The C6 Z06 was a bargain even when it was new, besting six-figure supercars while carrying a base price under 70 grand. It’s still one of the quicker cars on the road, even though its design is now 15 years old, so it’s a bit of mystery why Z06s are as affordable as they are. The buyer of this 37,000-mile Velocity Yellow car got a solid deal; this kind of price would ordinarily buy a car with higher miles finished in a less desirable color.

1967 Cadillac Eldorado

1967 Cadillac Eldorado front three-quarter

Sold for $7280, Bonhams Scottsdale, Lot 133

#3-condition (Good) value: $13,900

A California car with five decades of single-family ownership, this Cadillac sat for a few years but was recently put back on the road. It appears quite well preserved, too. Barely 7 grand for a ’67 Eldorado is essentially project car money, and this Caddy is in better shape than that.

1969 American Motors Hurst SC/Rambler

1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler front three-quarter

Sold for $44,000, Mecum Kissimmee, Lot F132

#2-condition (Excellent) value: $55,500

Following a tried-and-true formula, AMC and Hurst took a big, powerful engine and crammed it into a small, light car, creating the SC/Rambler. The one-year-only model, aimed at drag racing, was also one of the wildest-looking cars to come out of an era full of wild-looking cars. Most of the 1512 SC/Ramblers built came with the outrageous “A” paint scheme that featured bold striping and vibrant graphics, but this car with the “B” paint scheme isn’t exactly subtle—and it’s rarer.

Mecum’s SC/Rambler is a restored car with no major issues to speak of, but it nonetheless sold for driver-quality money. Most bidders must have been keeping their powder dry for the next lot of the auction, another restored SC/Rambler in the poppin’ “A” paint scheme, which sold for $55,000 (about condition #2 money).

1956 Jaguar XK 140 MC Fixed-Head Coupe

1956 Jaguar XK140 MC front three-quarter
Worldwide Auctioneers

Sold for $64,960, Worldwide Scottsdale, Lot 9

#3-condition (Good) value: $81,900

The MC (called the “SE” in the U.K.) was the top-of-the-range version of the XK 140, and it came with a 210-hp XK engine fitted with the cylinder head from Jaguar’s Le Mans-winning C-Type. This one is also a gleaming former Jaguar Clubs North America (JCNA) show car. One big knock against it: the Borg Warner automatic surely turns some people off, but that only goes part of the way in explaining this modest price, which leaves the new owner plenty of money left over to toss in a period correct four-speed or one of the popular modern five-speed swaps.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model SJ

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ front three-quarter

Sold for $16,500, Mecum Kissimmee, Lot W74

#3-condition (Good) value: $20,300

Pontiac redesigned the Grand Prix in 1969 with a mile-long hood and even more prominent beak. The exterior may be an acquired taste, but the cockpit’s bucket seats, floor-mounted shifter, and wraparound gauge cluster makes for a sporty feel. With the 370-hp 428 in the range-topping SJ, there’s some verve under the hood, too.

These intermediate-sized Pontiacs certainly don’t have the following (or the value) of a GTO, but the price on this Model SJ was still a surprise. It looks like a solid driver but sold for less than what we’d consider decent driver money, especially given that in the same week another 1969 Grand Prix SJ sold for $34,100. Even though it was a nicer car, it wasn’t 75 percent nicer.

Think there are some other good deals we missed from January’s big auctions? Tell us about it below.

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