(Actually, four broke our price guide and one totally blew our minds.)
These 3 cars broke our price guide in 2019
As we reflect on 2019, we haven’t been able to shake the memory of three shocking sales that totally blew our price guide data out of the water. Oddly enough, all three are sporty coupes actively making waves on the collector car market. Combining good looks with high performance, low production numbers, and low mileage is a trusted formula for long-term collectibility, but these sales were anything but ordinary.
We were already watching BMW 850 prices climb during the summer of 2018, but when a 1994 850CSi that was part of RM Sotheby’s London sale sold for $237,000, 28 percent higher than its #1 (Concours) value, we realized that the upward trend of these highly engineered V-12 grand tourers was not done quite yet.
The 850CSi builds upon the already desirable E31 8 Series with the addition of the S70B56 V-12. At 5.6 liters, it’s the largest V-12 offered in the 8 Series line and brought power up from just under 300 horsepower in the 850i’s 5.0-liter to an impressive 375 horsepower. The combination of refined power, an elegant design that has aged well, and low production–just 1510 built–make the 850CSi a prime collectible.
When a low-mileage 1994 Toyota Supra twin-turbo sold for $173,600 at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction, you could perhaps call it a fluke. After all, it was more than 60 percent higher than its #1 (Concours) condition at the time. Then another gorgeous example sold for $176,000 at Barrett-Jackson as part of that auction house’s Northeast sale, and it became a lot harder to write off as a one-time thing.
Mk IV Supras were, and still are, popular platforms for modification, and like any sporty car that depreciated enough over time, many have led rough lives being flogged on the dragstrip and elsewhere. They’re also the right era for millennial and Gen X collectors who are now coming of age and have wanted one since they were new. The few examples that have been well-preserved have a good shot at keeping the trend going.
When a 1200-mile 1997 Integra Type R sold for $63,800 at Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction in 2018, it raised some eyebrows. After all, it was about 50 percent higher than what anyone at the time would have expected given prior sales. Then, in June of 2019, a 1998 Type R with 27,000 miles on the clock sold on Bring a Trailer for $65,500. Not only was it much higher mileage than the Barrett car, but our valuation team pegged it as a #2 (Excellent) car, rather than #1 (Concours). That really got our attention.
The Type R checks a lot of the boxes for collectibility because, again, it was low volume and high performance. (Not to mention it’s considered by many to be the best-handling front-wheel-drive car ever.) Like the Mk IV Supra, there was a time when a used Type R wasn’t very expensive and the buying public in general didn’t see them as particularly special, so they were driven quite a lot like the high-revving, sporty compacts they are. Consequently, low-mileage, pristine examples are rare. Younger buyers seeking to own their high school dream car now have the money to put one in their garage and don’t mind spending new Civic Type R money, and then some, to do so.
Honorable mention: Jeep Cherokee SJ
We recently noted that the full-size Cherokee is following the lead of the Wagoneer and demanding some impressive prices. Although there aren’t as many stand-out sales, one from Bring a Trailer did net nearly double its #1 (Concours) price. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Cherokee rode the same wave of popularity that has in recent years lifted prices for the Bronco, Blazer, and Scout to new heights.