Best of the Least

Various pundits have claimed that the market is starting to stagnate going into 2019. Auctions in the Phoenix area in January generally proved that to be correct. Yet we’re no strangers to low prices in this column. Every March/April issue, that’s where we boldly go.

So, once again, and back by popular demand, I present the bottom of the sales chart from this year’s Arizona auctions.

(On star ratings, ★★★★★ is best)

1963 Cadillac Series 75 8-Passenger Sedan

Gooding & Company Lot 2, VIN: 63R053755
SOLD at $24,640

The 1963 model year was one of Cadillac’s most drastic restyles. If anything, it was Cadillac’s way of admitting defeat against the more conservatively designed Lincoln Continental from 1961 on. Traditions die hard, however — the series 75 sedans and limousines continued to use the wrap-around windshield from all ’59 and ’60 models.

This Caddy has been in California from new until this auction, and was in a couple of well-respected collections, most notably J.B. Nethercutt’s. Boasting a mere 35,926 miles from new, this had always been well cared for. At no-reserve, it was a pretty decent buy — factoring that you have somewhere to park 21 feet of Caddy.

Cheap:★★★

Thrilling:★★ (unless you have velvet Elvis posters)

Well-bought factor: ★★★

1934 Lincoln Model KA 4-Door Sedan

RM Sotheby’s Lot 178, VIN: KA2850
SOLD at $22,400

A lot of Full Classics have been restored in rather bright and garish colors, but this mostly original KA represented the unfiltered truth. It was reportedly originally ordered like this for a wealthy Southern California family so that they could go through impoverished areas and not have rocks thrown at them. This family kept it for over four decades, after which it was in a museum before going into the collector market. Like the Gooding Cadillac limo, this Lincoln had its original paint, glass and interior — all of which were very presentable.

Unfortunately, plain yet original doesn’t play well in today’s market full of resto-mods. It ran across the block fairly late on the first night at RM Sotheby’s, but for half of the auction-house guesstimate, this was very well bought if you have any interest at all in CCCA Full Classics. The best buy of the low sales.

Cheap:★★★★

Thrilling:★★(especially if you forget that these get about 8 mpg and decide
to tour with it and don’t bring a few spare gas cans)

Well-bought factor:★★★★★

1998 Freightliner FL-60 Tractor

Worldwide Auctioneers Lot 73
Sold at $12,100

Worldwide had Duesenbergs, Alfa Romeos, even two 1935 Auburn 851 SC speedsters in contrasting colors… and a Freightliner truck?

This mud hen in a pond full of swans was a consignor’s car trailer hauler. It was rated for under 26k GCVW, and not having air brakes means that you didn’t need a CDL to operate it (at least without crossing any state lines).

My car buddy and chauffeur for the week, Roy, checked it out, as he’s a Snowbird and lives in a 40-foot fifth-wheel trailer at one of the parks down in the Phoenix basin. His tow rig is a ’99 Dodge Ram 2500 with a 5.9L Cummins, and he knows a thing or two about big tow rigs for big trailers. His assessment of the Freightmaligner: “Don’t want it. Ran hard and put away wet. I’m better off with my Dodge.”

Cheap:★★★★

Thrilling:★ (unless you have the complete boxed set of DVDs from every season of “Movin’ On” — plus “B.J. and The Bear”)

Well-bought factor:★★

1951 Crosley CD Four Super Convertible

Bonhams Lot 90, VIN: CD304956
SOLD at $8,960

This Crosley was just completed a year ago and is hands-down the highest-condition car in our class of 2019. If anything, it was a tad overdone, as leather upholstery wasn’t an option when new.

With an auction house guesstimate of $15k–$25k, I at least figured the car would crack five digits. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately?), this is what can happen near the end of a sale when a car is no-reserve.

If you always wanted to scratch that Crosley itch, you’d have been hard-pressed to do better for the money. Well bought!

Cheap:★★★

Thrilling:★★★ (especially if a smart car is just too damn big for you)

Well-bought factor:★★★★

1965 Chevrolet Malibu Custom 4-Door Sedan

Russo and Steele Consignment 6514/Run TH281
SOLD at $5,500

Usually, if you say “1965 Chevelle,” most muscle car folks’ ears perk up. Well, they can go back to rest, since this was a 4-door sedan with a 283/Powerslide.

On top of that, this was done by one of those folks who had a couple of wounded cars lying around but felt the need to combine them into one good one — “good” being a relative term.

While billed as being a rust-free California black-plate car, the rest of the story was that the interior was gone or toast (literally, in the California sun). To remedy that, someone installed a 1989 Cadillac DeVille’s blue velour bench seats and door panels — in the Crocus Yellow Chevelle. Classy! Now you know why it was the lowest-selling American car here.

Cheap:★★★

Thrilling:★★ (unless you’re not in much of a hurry and are colorblind)

Well-bought factor: ★★

1978 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Sedan

Barrett-Jackson Lot 2, VIN: 3N69N8X185607
SOLD at $2,200

While the Monday docket at B-J had some truly tasteless autos, this workaday Olds oil burner shone out as The Chosen One the moment I spotted it.

Now, granted, this did have promise of doing better, as it’s a one-owner car with all documentation from new. Still, with a kindergarten repaint over toddler prep work, black did this car no favors (even if that was the original color). The garnish was the “Oldsmobile” and “Diesel” badges on the trunk, both mounted crooked and far out of alignment with each other.

Yet at least for $2,200, some bearded Millennial who wants a Greasel to run on the cheap can now learn the joys of owning the diesel engine we all ran away from four decades ago.

Cheap:★★★★

Thrilling:★ (unless you like to Roll Coal incognito)

Well-bought factor: ★★