How far did $50K go at Arizona Auction Week 2022?

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Now that the dust has settled after Arizona Auction Week 2022, we’re scouring the results and trying to make sense of it all. Most of the Scottsdale headlines this year feature words like “crazy,” “expensive,” and “record-breaking.” Fair enough. Total sales were way up from 2020 despite fewer cars on offer, and the average price rose from $95,152 to $126,556. As always, however, there’s more to Scottsdale than the high-level view. With over 2100 cars on offer, there are always affordable ones and, yes, even bargains.

To focus in on some of them, we polled the Hagerty staffers to see which cars (or giant trucks, apparently) they would have bought in Arizona this year if given a fat sack of cash and permission to go wild.

The last time we did this exercise, the hypothetical budget was $25K, but this year we gave ourselves a bonus (we think we deserve it) and doubled it to 50 grand. Here’s what we came up with.

1975 Airstream Argosy motorhome and 1972 Honda Z600

Airstream sold at Barrett-Jackson for $44,000

Honda sold at Barrett-Jackson for $5500

As someone who’s constantly on the lookout for their next camper, I was blown away by this 1975 Airstream Argosy. Compared to what less-equipped and comparatively bland Sprinter conversions go for, $44,000 is a steal for this “Bambi of Motorhomes”—whatever that means.

Plus, it’s powered by a 350 V-8, so we won’t have to worry about dealing with rare parts or with the unreliability that plagues many oddball motorhomes of the era. At only 20 feet long, the Airstream is short enough to squeeze into any National Park, and the $5500 Honda Z600 I picked up with the left over cash would make a great dinghy for around town.

Adam Wilcox, valuation analyst

1968 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV

1968 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTV
Worldwide Auctioneers

Sold at Worldwide for $43,680

Nothing screams ’60s chic like an Alfa GTV. It’s got slinky Giugiaro sheetmetal, a rev-loving little four-cam four-cylinder, backroad-ready suspension, and an interior that’s oh-so-Italian.

This one boasts the Goldilocks 1750-cc powerplant, but that didn’t prevent one of its owners from boring the mill to 1870 cc and rebuilding it with high-compression pistons, new bearings, a ported cylinder head, and sidedraft Weber carbs. Reinforced engine mounts (smart) and slotted and drilled brake discs and rotors (also smart) balance out the driveline upgrades. Whoever this enthusiast was didn’t stop there, adding Koni shocks, an aftermarket sway bar, and even a limited-slip diff sourced from an ’88 Alfa Spider. Needless to say, it’s a manual, and the clutch and flywheel are both new. Count in the lovely leather- and wood-trimmed cabin, and this GTV promises a refined experience that complements the can of Italian whoopass underneath. This thing is begging to be driven, and I’d be happy to oblige.  Under $50K? Not too crazy.

Grace Houghton, associate editor

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS

2000 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Barrett-Jackson

Sold at Barrett-Jackson for $14,300

The advice we’ve been peddling in this superheated market is: Buy what you love. As anyone who has suffered through a few beers with me can attest, I love Camaros. Especially these Camaros. My father owned a ’99 Z-28 right around the time I got my driver’s license; the sound of an LS1 V-8 is the formative sense-memory I associate with “fun car.” This one sold for a bit under the Hagerty Price Guide’s condition #3 (Good) value, and 75,000 miles is about what I’d look for—plenty of life left, but not so low that I’d feel bad about tearing around in it.

Although I won’t pretend a clearly used-looking F-body in a boring color is an investment, I do predict fourth-gen Camaros are due for some appreciation. They are among the American performance cars that have curiously been left behind in the 1990s/early 2000s gold rush. I suspect a lot of that has to do with the fact that unlike many of the now-prized 2000s classics, the Camaro is still with us in essentially the same form you see here—rear-drive, V-8, optional stick shift. And, sadly, that’s about to change.

TL:DR: T-tops.

David Zenlea, managing editor, Hagerty Insider

1965 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL

1965 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL
Barrett-Jackson

Sold at Barrett-Jackson for $48,400

This 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL sold for $48,400, below the condition #3 value of $60,300. The car appears to have a clean interior and exterior, and the four-speed manual is nice. The combination of red with a white hardtop and a similar interior might not be to everyone’s taste, but it definitely works for me. Also, because it sold on Wednesday, it is likely that few people interested in a 230SL were paying attention that day. Since the 230SL is also on our 2022 Bull Market List and poised to grow in value, it seems like an excellent deal.

John Wiley, senior valuation analyst

1969 Chevrolet Corvette 427/390 convertible and 1983 Chevrolet El Camino

Corvette sold for $44,000 at Barrett-Jackson

El Camino sold for $8800 at Barrett-Jackson

It’s practically a crime to get a C2 Sting Ray convertible considering how great it looks as a coupe, but with the C3, the droptop has amazing lines and the optional hardtop is similar to the coupe, so it’s like getting two cars for the price of one. At least that’s how I’d justify buying this Daytona Yellow 1969 Corvette convertible that had a hammer price of $40,000. It has a three-speed automatic as opposed to the four-speed manual that would make it even more desirable, but it’s a 427! This droptop would still make for a fantastic summer road-tripper. Just pack light, there’s no trunk.

With $10,000 left to spend, how about a bit more utility to even out the Corvette’s lack of a trunk? This 1983 El Camino, in matching yellow, is powered by a Buick 3.8-liter V-6 rather than the optional 305 V-8. While it’s no hot rod, it should still get the job done with one of GM’s most reliable engines ever.

Brandan Gillogly, senior editor

1997 Stewart & Stevenson M1078 cargo truck

1997 Stewart & Stevenson M1078 cargo truck
Barrett-Jackson

Sold at Barrett-Jackson for $19,800

At $19K this stands out as a deal, and it has nothing to do with speculation or value or market trends. For me, it’s purely about living out a fantasy of owning a big military truck, building it into a camping rig, and taking off into the desert. All for half the price of a camper van!

There are tons of these for sale on government auction sites, and they usually command between $15K and $30K—but they come with all the unknowns earned by years spent sitting in a military storage yard. This one appears to be sorted, and for half the price of a Unimog with all of the features, I can’t go wrong. That $50K budget should put a nice camper on the back, too. And maybe even pay for the HOA parking fines …

James Hewitt, valuation analyst

1967 Pontiac Bonneville station wagon

1967 Pontiac Bonneville station wagon
Barrett-Jackson

Sold at Barrett-Jackson for $36,300

This is just plain cool. It would be a lot cooler at a lower price but, hey, such is the world we live in. This big, blue-on-blue family hauler is from the first year of the Pontiac 400, which is a sufficiently potent engine to move a massive piece of iron like this. But it’s the details that really make this: The eight-lug wheels look perfect on a big Ponchos like this. You can’t ignore the hood tach, either. Practical or not on a wagon, hood tachs are just plain neat. The overdrive transmission is another nice touch, as are the (also blue) fuzzy dice.

Greg Ingold, editor, Hagerty Price Guide

1972 Citroën SM

1972 Citroën SM
Bonhams

Sold at Bonhams for $44,800

I may have taken Spanish in high school, but truth be told I have a serious weakness for all things French, especially cars. And the Citröen SM is a favorite. The sci-fi shape, funky interior, punchy Maserati V-6, and innovative hydropneumatic suspension speak to me for some reason. This one, which sold for about its condition #3 value, also has the desirable five-speed manual and Weber carburetors (rather than Bosch injection).

Now, what could go wrong on a 50-year-old part-French, part-Italian car bought at an auction? Everything! That, however, is all part of the fun and sounds like a (probably expensive) problem for later.

Since I’m a glutton for punishment and hate to leave money on the table, I wanted to use the $5200 left over for a fun beater or basic project. Unfortunately, most of our hypothetical $50K budget went to my French fantasy, so the only option was a 1990 Dodge Colt at Barrett-Jackson. Hard pass. More money for Citröen parts.

Andrew Newton, senior auction editor

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