We’re sure you remember it -- the times before 2007-’08, when results of the winter collector-car auctions would lead to an upward spike in sale prices for all Mopars later that year. Those spikes, caused by some auctions setting world-record sale prices, may be a thing of the past.
In what we’ve seen of this past winter’s collector-car auctions, bids and selling prices are staying fairly stable, with good money following the quality cars, the rarest of the rare continuing to draw top dollar, and nothing with a 383 selling for six figures.
In other words, the collector market is comparable to what we told you about it in these pages a couple years ago.
As we did back then, we’ll get some insights into the collector-Mopar market from some of the leading collector-car auction houses, as we’ll add our analysis of values listed in the leading collector-car value guide.
Mopars at Mecum’s Kissimmee Auction
With a car count over 3,000 and a ten-day schedule, Mecum Auction’s 2013 event in Kissimmee, Florida, had a lot to offer. For Mopar lovers, that included plenty of ’60s and early ’70s muscle.
While we were there, we asked Sam Murtaugh, Mecum’s marketing vice president, how the Plymouths and Dodges that crossed the block were faring. “They’ve been consistent with the rest of the auction, with a sale rate of 70 percent. The cars are doing really well, and they’re selling.”
Sam says that good cars were bringing good money at Kissimmee. “Quality and documentation really depicts what a car is worth, and the value, as far as the market goes,” he adds.” The guys are here who want the cars, and the sellers hope they bring fair market value, and sell.”
That includes tribute or recreation cars, as well as restomods. “The restomods are a really big fad over the last couple of years,” says Sam. “They bring quite a bit of money, depending on the craftsmanship and quality of the build.”
As for the Mopar end of the market in general, Sam says they’re bringing what Mecum’s calls market price. “It’s certainly not where it was a few years ago, but it’s certainly leveled and steadied,” he says. “Good cars that are well-documented, whether they’re original or restored, are doing what they should do.”
That included some of the ChryCo stars of the event—a Vitamin C Orange 440+6-powered ’70 Plymouth Superbird and an unrestored 12,000-original-mile, two-fender-tags triple black ’70 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda. We saw the bidding on both cars—and heard the cheers of the crowd when both cars were gaveled sold.
How did that pair of ’70s do? The Superbird brought $157,000, and the Hemi ’Cuda went for $320,000. (Prices do not include commissions. Log onto www.mecum.com for complete Kissimmee auction results.)
Deals in the Desert: Mopars at the Arizona Auctions
At the big Arizona auctions, while there may not have been as many Mopars crossing the block as there were Bowties or Blue Ovals, they made their presence known.
Per Russo & Steele’s Drew Alcazar, the Mopars held their own while the bidders’ money was chasing quality cars. “There’s no question about it,” he says. “When you look at what we did on our Hemi ’Cuda convertible the year before last, which sold at $1.7 million, and you look at what another auction company did this year on a Plum Crazy ’70 Hemi ’Cuda Convertible—I believe that result was $1.3 million.”
Based on that, and on the results from Russo & Steele’s Scottsdale event, Drew says the market is looking good, especially for those cars with plenty of documentation, be they restored or unrestored originals.
As for nonoriginal cars, Drew is wary of them. “Restomods, clones, tribute cars -- whatever the flavor of the moment you want to call them that makes them seem better than what they are, which is ‘cubic zirconia,'” he says. “That’s a novelty market -- those cars are changing hands at dollars that are emotional. A guy might think it’s cool for 15 seconds of fame on TV saying, ‘Look at me, look at me -- I bought this car!’ Well, all of a sudden, the sun sets on that little golden window, and you have that in your garage, and you go, ‘Now what am I going to do with it?’ If you go to some Mopar meets, they’ll be saying, ‘You’re going to park that out back. You’re not parking that on the lawn next to my matching-numbers/original buildsheet/rock star car!’”
He adds, “What’s happened recently is the market is now starting to get healthy, and you’re seeing the numbers on the real rock star cars start to get printed in the trade pubs, so a lot of those guys are kind of like lizards crawling out from underneath the rock, trying to catch a little sunlight,” he says. “They’re realizing that the market’s getting a little bit better on the big stuff, and they’re thinking, Aha! Maybe now I can turn loose of my clone and not take such a licking on it. So you’re seeing some of those cars now come back into the marketplace that have been sort of quiet for a while as people waited out the bottom curve.”
While there may be more restomods or “tributes” entering the market, Drew says you need to be realistic about them if you’re a buyer. “Realize you’re going to have a real thin market when you go to sell that car again,” he says. “I hope you had fun with it, but don’t expect the marketplace to be receiving that car in the same collectible and value light as they do a numbers-matching, documented, pedigreed car. And that’s what’s really moving the needle right now.”
How did Mopars “move the needle” at Russo & Steele? Log on to www.russoandsteele.com for their 2013 Scottsdale results.
By the Book
While we were at Kissimmee, we picked up the January-June 2013 Kelley Blue Book Official Guide For Early Model Cars, which lists values for 1946-’92 cars in either Fair (i.e. a drivable project car that needs resto work), Good (a clean original or older restoration), or Excellent (fresh resto or a mint, untouched original) conditions.
Using the values listed in this year’s edition of the Guide with those shown in their January-June 2010 edition, we took a look at how 440 Six Barrel/four-speed Superbirds and four-speed-equipped ’70 Hemi ’Cuda coupe values compared between 2010 and 2013.
For the Superbirds, Kelley figured their value back in 2010 was $121,429 (reflecting a 30 percent premium for the V-code engine and $1,500 to add to the value for a four-speed instead of a TorqueFlite automatic-equipped one. For 2013, the Guide put that figure at $163,480, with the same adjustments for a 440 Six-Barrel/four-speed over a 440 Magnum/TF ’Bird.
How about Hemi ’Cuda coupes, like the triple black ’70 seen here? The 2010 Guide put its value at around $285,495, starting with their value for an unoptioned Hemi ’Cuda coupe ($269,900) and adding adjustments for having a four-speed (add $1,500), an eight-track player (add $600), and optional factory wheels (add 5 percent). Meanwhile, the 2013 Guide, for the same car—and the same adjustments for a four-speed, an eight-track player, and optional factory wheels—showed a value of $265,125, starting with a baseline value of $250,500, and adding for the four-speed, eight-track, and optional wheels.
As you can see, those values are far from the big bids cars like those attracted in the past—but very good money, nonetheless.
If you’re waiting for collector-Mopar prices to drop down to near the factory sticker prices, you’ll have to wait until you can travel back in time, buy a new one, and bring it back to today.
The prices that collectible Mopars brought at this year’s winter auctions were, we feel, in line with what was bid over the last couple of years, but not with the dollars those cars were drawing when the market was higher—and likely driven by non-car-people speculators than by genuine automotive enthusiasts.
If you were spooked by the run-up in bids and prices paid in the previous decade of this century, you may be pleasantly surprised to see that the Plymouth or Dodge that you’ve dreamed about may indeed be within reach.
But, if you’re looking to sell a car that isn’t completely original, or is a restomod, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t bring the biggest of big bucks if and when you sell it.