Where the Bucks Stopped in Monterey

As America’s ultimate example of collector-car opulence, the Monterey Car Week auctions lean to multi-million-dollar, limited-production cars.

Monterey 2017 was a slightly lower year for sales, with some world records established on the high end. All the lower-tier cars pretty much treaded water.

In light of this, my annual look at the least-expensive American car at each Monterey Car Week auction gains more relevance. There is always a car that sells for the least amount of money.

How low did Read More

Benz Bones, Mopar Soul

The Chrysler-Maserati TC of 1989–91 may have been Lee Iacocca’s pet project, but it did show Chrysler a thing or two about trans-oceanic undertakings.

But when the Crossfire was introduced at the 2001 North American Auto Show in Detroit, Chrysler wasn’t exactly calling the shots, thanks to the DaimlerChrysler merger.

While the TC was more a case of spreading out the workload between two continents (actually three, if you count the Mitsubishi V6 engine in later production), the Crossfire is Read More

DeLorean’s Italian Vega

When the Vega program was introduced in 1970, GM’s CEO Ed Cole also went forward with a program to build the Wankel rotary engine under license from NSU. The original intent was to offer it in a sporty new fastback hatchback design called the Monza 2+2 for 1973, and then later offer it in the Vega as an option.

While sharing the Vega’s body pan and wheelbase, the 2+2 was four inches longer overall and wider between the front strut Read More

If the Shoebox Six Fits

If you can call Henry Ford one thing, it’s persistent. His disdain of 6-cylinder engines dates to the teens of the last century, mostly out of spite of his competition.

When Ford’s son Edsel pleaded with him to expand from the Model T and Model A 4-cylinder platform, Henry wouldn’t hear about a six. Even odd and exotic combinations such as Henry’s fascination with the X8 were always up for consideration, but never a six. Indeed, he leapfrogged past any Read More

This year, my boots were on the ground at all seven auction venues, searching out the cheapest American cars available. Be it expensive and exotic or cheap and neurotic, every auction has a high and low winner.

So once again, back by popular demand, I present the bottom of the Arizona sales chart, class of 2017:

(5/5 is best)

1911 Ford Model T Speedster

Gooding & Company Lot 2, VIN 50170
Sold for $26,400

This car’s engine block Read More

A Panther Stalks the Market

Chevrolet’s 1994–96 Chevrolet Impala SS created a performance following. This high-performance car built on a full-size 4-door platform generated an immediate cult following among those who wanted a potent LT-1 but needed the practicality of a sedan over a Camaro SS or Corvette. Today, the car’s status as a true collectible of the 1990s is cemented.

At Ford, there were occasional rumblings of a Police Interceptor for the masses to hit that Read More

Minimum Money in Monterey

Monterey Car Week is all about the high-dollar, high-profile, high-glamour cars. But for every multimillion-dollar Shelby Cobra, there has to be a vehicle sold on the opposite side of the spectrum. Here’s a look at the domestic car from each live auction venue that sold for the least amount of money. Being Monterey, there are no bad cars — just possible entrants for next year’s Concours D’LeMons.

Gooding & Company

Read More

Making It Personal

Custom vans defined the 1970s. You can chalk that movement up to a number of factors: withdrawal from the hippie movement or the disappearance of muscle cars, a market glut of used first- and second-generation American work vans, and a burgeoning interest in light-duty trucks despite the OPEC oil crisis. It all combined to create the perfect storm for one of the more unique eras of vehicle personalization.

Van modifications were Read More

Economy-Class Super Sport

By 1970, closing time was fast approaching the muscle car era, and it was just as apparent at the time as it is now in retrospect. The Clean Air Act of 1970 and safety concerns — along with subsequently high insurance rates — gave enough hints to anyone paying attention, and the auto industry certainly was.

For 1971, performance began to be emphasized less, and when it was, it was aimed Read More

Off-road Plymouth

Although the Jeep CJ, International Scout and Ford Bronco got the ball rolling on small personal off-roaders, it was the Chevrolet Blazer that really jump-started the interest in full-size SUVs.

Based on a shortened pickup truck platform, the Blazer was more of a play toy than a work truck. While it was able to go off road for camping, hunting, fishing or just boonie-whacking, most Blazers tended to be used on the highway as Read More