It doesn’t take a whole lot of persuasion in the middle of winter to get car enthusiasts excited about a trip to the Arizona desert. While many collectors’ cars are tucked away under covers in heated garages for the wet and snowy months, the sunny Scottsdale skies and warm weather make for a welcome reprieve from less fortunate climes. In fact, we saw plenty of great classic cars—top down, even—out on the roads around town while we visited for the annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction.
This year’s nine-day affair was Barrett-Jackson’s most successful auction ever, with more than $118 million in sales, compared to $106.8 million in 2018. The all-important sell-through rate exceeded 99 percent, as is typical from Barrett-Jackson’s aggressive no-reserve policy on most vehicles. No-reserve cars are guaranteed sellers and guaranteed commission in the auction house’s coffers. In the end, Barrett-Jackson found more than 1,800 cars new homes and registered more than 5,300 bidders.
We spent a 12-hour day wandering the seemingly endless rows of cars for sale, and there were truly all types here. From AMC Pacers to mil-spec Humvees, Ford Mustangs to Ferrari F430s, trailer queens to tractors, everyone is likely to find something they like; whether or not they can afford it is the only question. Of course, that’s not a concern for everyone, like the winning bidder who spent a huge $2.1 million for the bragging rights of scoring the first production 2020 Toyota Supra with VIN 20201. A crazy price considering the Supra’s base MSRP of $50,920? Not when you consider all proceeds went to charity, resulting in a massive tax deduction for a very lucky one-percenter. Here are several other vehicles that caught our attention as we combed the auction tents at Barrett-Jackson’s Westworld venue:
2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition | Sold, $533,500
While Ford auctioned off the first-ever 2020 Ford GT Heritage Edition for charity (it sold for $2.5 million), previous-generation Ford GTs—all eight of them—caught our eye. Three of those GTs were Heritage Edition cars, with the traditional blue and orange Gulf Oil livery. If you read our pre-auction coverage, you saw we recommended the highest-mileage car of the three as the one to buy. Why? With just more than 3,000 miles on the odometer, you’d be able to drive it a heck of a lot more than the other two, which showed 75 and 288 miles. We also figured the buy-in would be dramatically cheaper. Turns out the car with the highest mileage fetched the highest price, $533,500, while the 75-mile car sold the cheapest, at $462,000. Surprised? As The Who said, “I Can’t Explain.” Maybe this bizarro-world bidding will encourage the buyers of the lower-mileage GTs to actually drive them.
1993 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R | Sold, $132,000
Fox-bodied Mustangs have been on our radar for a year or two now, and you could consider the SVT Cobra R the mack daddy of them all. This example, from the very last year of Fox-body production, was number 11 of 107 SVT Cobra R models built to send off the third-generation Mustang, and it was driven just 500 miles since it rolled off the assembly line; it still wore the factory plastic protective wrap over its seats. R versions of the Mustang SVT Cobra were sold as race-ready cars to those with competition licenses and featured deleted radio, speakers, air conditioning, and fog lamps—along with no rear seats, sound deadening, or power options. The shocks were adjustable Konis, the brakes were larger Kelsey Hayes units, and the wheels were a huge for the time at 17×8 inches. The price paid was a world record for maybe the nicest Fox-body Mustang in the world. Still, folks shouldn’t have any delusions about the value of the Mustang LX notchback rusting away in their backyard.
1997 Dodge Viper GTS | Sold, $55,000
We’re bullish on first-generation Vipers, especially the GTS coupe models. With aesthetics that recall a modern version of the classic Shelby Daytona Coupes, a V-10 engine, and honest-to-goodness motorsports history, we think enthusiasts 20 years from now will be talking about the “Viper that got away” as people do with Cobras today. This example wasn’t completely original, but its extensive modifications were done by well-known Archer Brothers Racing. The engine was built by the same guys who assembled the Team Oreca Viper engines that did battle at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, among other races. With just more than 1,000 miles on the clock and uprated suspension, brakes, and cooling, this one was special and well worth its winning bid.
2001 Honda S2000 | Sold, $49,500
Remember when 1990s Japanese sports cars were just used cars? So do we, and we all know that’s not the case anymore. With an immaculate, low-mileage 1994 Toyota Supra Turbo recently selling for more than $120,000 on Bring a Trailer, Japanese cars are firmly in the collectible category. This early S2000 from the AP1 series is the most desirable of the bunch with its 8,800-rpm redline and more playful suspension setup; later cars were stroked for more displacement, with a reduced redline and less aggressive suspension settings. With just 921 miles on the showroom-condition car, its new owner has a solid investment on his hands if he can keep from actually driving it—no easy task. Another Barrett-Jackson bargain.
1992 Cadillac Allanté | Sold, $12,650
It’s easy to look at the stratospheric numbers many collector cars bring and moan about being priced out of the market. Who would have thought some of the same cars we bought and enjoyed for a penance years ago would now be reserved for those with 10-car garages on waterfront property? Someday, maybe we’ll say the same about Cadillac Allantés. With a $60,000 price tag when new, genuine Pininfarina coachwork, and a 4.5-liter V-8 under the hood, this 20,000-mile Allanté from the second-to-last year of production was a solid buy. On the road these are still sharp-looking cars that turn heads, and although this one doesn’t have the wonderful 4.6-liter, 32-valve Northstar engine under its hood like the 1993 final-year examples.
1966 Ford Bronco | Sold, $33,000
Classic SUVs are hot, hot, hot, and we’re seeing them come to auctions in increasing numbers. From early American versions like the Ford Bronco and Chevrolet Blazer to Toyota FJs and early Range Rovers, there’s a buyer for them all. This is a Bronco from the first year of production (referred to by Ford at the time as “the first four-wheel-drive sports car”), and after all these years it still has its matching-numbers 2.8-liter straight-six engine under the hood. Making about 104 horsepower and paired to a three-speed manual, the previous owner gave this Bronco a frame-off restoration. We couldn’t stop staring at it. The price paid seems market correct—for now—and resto-modded examples with more modern powertrains are also increasingly popular.