Clark Gable's 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL - image: Barrett-JacksonEnlarge Photo
If you spent last weekend glued to Speed, watching the Barrett-Jackson Auction live from Scottsdale, Arizona, you probably came away with the same confused outlook we did.
While some cars sold for impressive amounts, like the $1.1 million paid for the first production 2014 Corvette Stingray, or the $4.2 million (excluding buyer’s premium) paid for the original George-Barris-designed Batmobile, other cars that should have brought serious money failed to live up to their potential.
Buyers, it seems, are becoming more particular when investing in classic automobiles, and are more frugal when buying cars to support a charity. GM CEO Dan Akerson’s 1958 Corvette raised just $270,000 for Habitat for Humanity, which seemed low to us.
Jay Leno did what he could to work the crowd before George W. Bush’s 2009 Ford F-150 pickup crossed the block, but even sharing the stage with a Congressional Medal of Honor winner failed to raise bidding above $300,000. The winner, it appeared, was NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon.
That was half the price paid for Jay Leno’s Fiat 500 last summer, which is bad news for the Fisher House Charity. Politics aside, the sale was to benefit a worthy cause, and we expected to see a significantly higher selling price.
Still, that was (slightly) better than the Guy Fieri Corvette 427 Collector’s Edition, which sold at just $270,000, with proceeds going to benefit the Guy Fieri Foundation’s Cooking With Kids program.
Even the final 2012 COPO Camaro, one of just two convertible models built, reached only $400,000 for the American Heart Association before the hammer fell.
Porsche 959 prototype - image: Barrett-JacksonEnlarge Photo
That matched the selling price (less the 10-percent buyer’s premium) achieved by the Porsche 959 development prototype we told you about a few weeks back. As one of just two running 959 prototypes (and one of just four total 959 prototypes remaining), we expected the selling price to climb quite a bit higher.
There was evidence that sellers are growing more realistic with pricing, too. Clark Gable’s 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL reached $1.9 million in bidding, which failed to clear the car’s reserve. Off the block, a deal was later finalized to sell the car at $1.85 million.
Auctions like Barrett-Jackson have always seemed immune from the ups and downs of the U.S. economy, but this latest event has us wondering if one-percenters are beginning to feel the pinch, too.