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McCormick's Annual Auction Included an Ex-Alex Trebek Car

A 1956 Jaguar Roadster previously owned by Alex Trebek crossed the block at this three-day auction.

Eleonor SeguraWriter, Photographer

On the verge of all of the holiday madness setting in, we returned to California's desert oasis for Keith McCormick's annual classic-car auction at the Palm Springs Convention Center. With just more than 500 cars crossing the block, among the featured models up for auction were a 1956 Jaguar XK140 MC roadster, 1966 Shelby Cobra CSX 400 Series, 1963 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 75, and 1964 Volkswagen Deluxe 21-Window Microbus.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacquelyn were passengers in the Cadillac Fleetwood when they visited a friend who owned it. Another cool fact: The Jaguar roadster was formerly owned by Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, who sold it in 1976 for $6,875 because he needed the money. The new owner kept the car for 43 years before putting it up for auction at McCormick's, where it was said to be worth somewhere in the six-figure range.

Below, find three cars that stood out during our brief visit, and then head into the gallery to see the diverse automotive awesomeness at McCormick's 67th Annual Palm Springs Classic Car auction:

1975 Bricklin SV-1

The gullwing doors and all-around futuristic design of this bright orange Bricklin SV-1 quickly grabbed our attention as we browsed the parking lot. Assembled in Canada, it was created by American entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin, who sought to build an attractive sports car with safety at the forefront. Bricklin believed the SV-1—"Safety Vehicle One"—would demonstrate that safety did not have to impede on a car's design; his company constructed the body with a composite of acrylic resin and fiberglass.

Under the hood, the SV-1 initially came with an American Motors V-8 before making the switch to Ford power, and it had an AMC Javelin-based suspension. Unfortunately, the efforts geared toward safety and a radical design were not enough to keep the car in production; the Bricklin SV-1 only lasted from 1974 to 1975, and not quite 3,000 examples were made. Of the models produced, only a handful featured a manual transmission.

Possessed by a single owner from 1975 to 2019, the SV-1 up for auction at McCormick's was in immaculate condition, fitted with an automatic transmission, and claimed 2,000 miles on a rebuilt engine.

1957 Chevrolet Nomad

This groovy station wagon had a respectable production term from 1955 to 1961, and it went on hiatus before a third-generation model made a comeback in 1968.

First introduced as a concept car at the 1954 General Motors Motorama as one of Harley Earl's dream cars, the Chevrolet Nomad was unlike other station wagons of its time. GM transferred styling cues from a hardtop sedan to the Nomad's boxy exterior design—which shared its body with Pontiac—dressed up the interior, and slapped in a powerful V-8 engine.

Marketed as "The Hot One," the Nomad's exterior received full wheel covers, chrome window moldings, decorated tailfins, and chrome spears on the front fenders. The Nomad wagon was a member of the Tri-Five Chevrolets (1955-57) and was commonly referred to as the "Bel Air Nomad." In 1957, the sporty two-door Nomad received a more powerful V-8 option and was discontinued that same year due to sluggish sales.

Completely restored, the Nomad we spotted at McCormick's had a pristine interior and several upgrades including power windows, low-profile custom wheels, and a 327 engine.    

In the vicinity of Beverly Hills, where the streets are filled with every luxury vehicle imaginable, there is nothing special about the dozens of Land Rovers on Rodeo Drive. However, this classic 1992 Land Rover Defender 110 made us turn around for a more thorough examination.

Advertised as a private recreational vehicle, the Defender 110 can accommodate up to nine passengers and features a permanent four-wheel-drive system. Only available with a manual transmission, the Defender 110 was offered with a series of more powerful engines; "110" designated the length of the wheelbase, in inches. Improvements to the Defender 110 include a modern and more comfortable interior, coil-sprung suspension, and wind-up windows. Other cool stuff includes the introduction of optional add-ons and exterior styling choices.

Imported from the U.K., the left-hand drive example at McCormick's featured a diamond-stitched interior, navigation system, Bluetooth, backup camera, and turbocharged diesel engine.