One of 50: A Rare Fiat-Based Moretti 500 is More Than $10,500 Worth of Fun
Plus six other cars from Plymouths to Porsches in this week’s Bring a Trailer online auction roundup.
1969 Fiat Moretti 500
While Moretti Motor Company was founded in the 1920s in Turin, Italy as a motorcycle manufacturer, the company is best known today for the handsome Fiat-based coupes it turned out starting in the late 1950s. This little Moretti 500 is based on the Fiat 500 chassis with a 0.5-liter, two-cylinder, air-cooled drivetrain, and would have been a stylish, upscale alternative to Fiat's popular city car. Think Aston Martin Cygnet and you're starting to understand the idea. The seller claims that only 50 or so of this model were built and it shares some design cues with the Boano-styled Fiat 850 Coupe, which was in production concurrently. Despite a top speed of about 65 mph and glacial acceleration, this is a pretty rare and special car for not much money, and probably would have sold for more in Europe.
1973 Porsche 911T Targa
We all know the long-hood, small-bumper, pre-'74 Porsche 911 story by now. They were once cheap, then they weren't, but with prices down some 25 to 30 percent from the highs of a few years ago, we're finally starting to see some buying opportunities again. This '73 911 T Targa looked like one of them. Although it showed some signs of fairly minor corrosion, some non-original refurbishment, and an overall slightly scruffy appearance, the 3.2-liter flat six from a later 1984-'88 Carrera makes nearly double the power the original 2.4-liter engine did, and is less finicky with more modern Bosch electronic fuel injection. The buyer will be quickly under water if a full restoration is attempted, so it's best to keep this one a driver and only worry about the basics. Nicely bought.
2012 Ferrari 458 Italia
The other week, we looked at a Ferrari 458 Speciale Aperta that sold for $481,000 and concluded that the limited-edition, naturally-aspirated, 13,000-mile, end-of-an-era supercar was a fair deal. Here's a little secret: the standard 458 is 95 percent as magical to drive for less than half the price. Leave the Speciale for those who can afford to ignore good value and pick up a standard Ferrari 458 instead while it's on its way down the depreciation ladder. The original MSRP on this eight-year-old 458 was a heady $314,542, and just 2,400 miles later it sold for $172,500, still looking like a brand-new car. Think you'll be envious of more modern Ferraris when you're out on the road? Don't. The 458 has one of the best automotive soundtracks this side of an IMSA GTLM race car and besides, 560 horsepower at 9,000 rpm is enough performance for both backroads and track-day enjoyment. Oh, and that's $59 per mile the buyer saved in depreciation without even factoring in maintenance, insurance, gas, or registration fees. A market correct price for now, but 458s are still on their way down.
2000 Plymouth Prowler
Love it or hate it, Chrysler and designer Tom Gale's contemporary ode to the hot rod is almost impossible to ignore when you see one on the street. Believe it or not, the Prowler actually had a five-year production run, getting its start in 1997 and closing out in 2002. Although the V-6 engine and automatic transmission turned away hot rod purists who wouldn't have anything less than an eight-cylinder mill and a manual, anyone who's ever driven a Prowler will tell you they probably wouldn't want much more than the 253 horsepower that 1999 and later Prowlers produce. The lighter V-6 was probably better for handling anyway, and the car did have near 50-50 weight distribution. Nearly 12,000 Prowlers were sold under both the Plymouth and, later, Chrysler names. Prowler values have been in a holding pattern for years, the result of its fairly polarizing nature. For the price paid, this 9,000-mile Prowler seems reasonable—just don't expect a profit later.
2005 Lotus Elise
We've been watching Lotus Elise prices for a while now, as the earliest cars sold in the U.S. settle in the $30,000 range for clean examples with reasonable mileage. This Elise looked pretty well bought at a hair under $26,000 what with its 40,000 miles and gently used appearance. Turns out, a mileage discrepancy, likely the result of a clerical error on the CarFax report, means that the Elise had to be sold with the disclaimer that "true mileage is unknown." Nevertheless, the car appeared to be an honest example and the mileage seemed in line with the car's general wear. We think the buyer got a minor bargain here, but if the mileage issue can't be cleared up at registration, the next buyer will probably get a deal, too.
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL "Gullwing"
Not sold: $1,400,000
Without question this is one of the nicer 300 SL "Gullwings" on offer right now in the U.S., with cosmetic and mechanical restorations both completed by well-regarded 300 SL experts, a desirable color of Graphite Grey and excellent presentation by the selling dealer. Despite the reproduction luggage set and non-original Rudge knock-off wheels (still a desirable addition, even if they weren't factory ordered), bidding reached $1,400,000. A few years ago, that would have bought you a nice driver 300 SL, but while this car was being restored, values went a bit south. Today, driver-quality examples are dipping under the magic million-dollar mark, so the high bid here should have been enough to get this deal done. The consigner says the price is close, but no cigar. Potentially this one will sell outside of BaT shortly.
1975 Triumph Spitfire 1500
Of course, it's not necessary to spend anywhere near a million bucks to feel like a million bucks driving a cool classic sports car around. Here's a perfect example: this slightly needy but well-loved Triumph Spitfire is from the latter half of production, with a larger, torquier 1.5-liter inline-four engine, a four-speed manual gearbox, and vintage front-engine, rear-drive English sports car dynamics. The seller noted a little rust here and there, somewhat uneven paint and a few other little areas needing attention, but also presents years' worth of receipts for both mechanical and cosmetic refurbishment that probably exceed the car's sale price. With a little more work and fresh paint, this car could sell for double what it cost this week, and the buyer will have had plenty of fun in the process. Well bought, just in time for summer.