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The 2015 Barrett Jackson Auctions in Palm Beach

Automobile logo Automobile 2015-07-21 Dave Kinney, Barrett Jackson

Palm Beach, Florida
April 17-19, 2015

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible © Provided by Automobile 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Feature Car: 1963 Chevrolet Corvette convertible
Sold at $55,000

S/N 30867S12163
Daytona blue over dark blue vinyl interior. 250-hp, OHV, 5.4-liter V-8; three-speed manual transmission. Removable hardtop only. Correct exterior; decent chrome. Good interior with a factory AM/FM radio. Factory air-conditioning. Reported original 58,925 miles. The might-be-original paint is old, tired, and flaking, but it’s part of the appeal here, as this Corvette is being marketed as a survivor.

The Story Behind the Sale

It would be hard to explain the importance of the 1963 model year in Detroit without focusing on three all-new models, the 1963 Buick Rivera, the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette, and the 1963 Studebaker Avanti. Where the Buick helped define the personal luxury car for a generation, the Avanti was an attempt by a small American company to make a European-style car. But it is the second-generation Corvette that defines the American car of the 1960s.

The C2 truly was all new in 1963. For the first time, the Corvette was offered as a coupe or a convertible, and the presence of air-conditioning introduced comfort features to the brand. You also had an unreal selection of engines with different power outputs, plus high-tech such as fuel injection and electronic ignition. Complete with styling that featured hidden headlights, the 1963 Chevy Corvette made a statement about a new spirit of American sophistication, which encompassed both style and technology.

This 1963 Corvette convertible is equipped with the low-horsepower V-8, no soft top, and the odd choice of a three-speed manual transmission, all of which are signs that someone wanted to buy a budget ’Vette. But once you add air-conditioning, this car becomes an interesting collector piece. Not many 1963 Corvettes had air, and this was a time when air-conditioning in a convertible was considered by many to be folly.

Was such an odd model worth the high bid? Yes, because it represents an interesting time in the history of the model. In 1963, the 10-year-old Corvette came of age.

1960 Fiat 600 © Provided by Automobile 1960 Fiat 600

1960 Fiat 600
Sold at $11,000

S/N FIAT100769869
White over tan vinyl interior. 22-hp, OHV, 0.6-liter inline-four; four-speed manual transmission. Let’s call the paint condition good to very good. The glass is in good shape throughout. Contemporary-style wheels in place of originals.

Let’s get real. You might not want your new Lexus to display the same indifferent paint and build quality of this 1960 Fiat 600, but then you can’t buy a new Lexus for the cost of a weekend in Las Vegas, right?

The charming 600 had a water-cooled engine, something of an upgrade since the 500 had an air-cooled one. Fiat made a million examples of the Fiat 600 in the car’s sixth year of production and then made more. About a million performance parts were also made for the 600. It won’t go any faster, but who cares? Bring on the rally stripes and Campagnolo wheels.

1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight © Provided by Automobile 1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight

1950 Studebaker Champion Starlight
Sold at $22,000

S/N G632593
Aqua green over green cloth interior. 85-hp, flat-head, 2.8-liter inline-six; three-speed manual transmission. Very good paint; good chrome. The cloth interior is respectable; decent dash and gauges. A few signs of age and wear throughout, but nice enough.

The Champion was the “popular priced” model; if you wanted luxury, you opted for the Commander. The bullet-nose Studebaker is among the most distinctive (some might say polarizing) of all postwar cars, even though the styling was meant to echo aspects of military aircraft. (The controversial propeller-style “spinner grille” appeared only in 1950-1951.) Long derided as the “coming or going” Studie with a rear window that looks like a windshield, this nevertheless bold look came from Virgil Exner, one of many famous designers who worked for the brand. Spot-on price.

1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer © Provided by Automobile 1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

1988 Jeep Grand Wagoneer
Sold at $11,000

S/N 1JCNJ15U6JT062988
Buff yellow over tan vinyl interior with cloth inserts. 140-hp, OHV, 5.9-liter V-8; three-speed automatic transmission. Decent paint, although you can find a few chips and flaws without looking too hard. Good stick-on, faux-wood plastic siding. The tan leather and cloth still look good, as do the semi-shag carpets. Nice dash, good interior trim.

Chrysler bought American Motors Corp. in March 1987 and got the troubled Jeep brand in the deal. Although few remember AMC/Rambler, Jeep lives on. The Grand Wagoneer was a moneymaker even with production at less than 20,000 examples per year, and its best years came between 1988 and 1991. Collectors are buying the Grand Wagoneer and using it as transport in places such as the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard. Affordable at this price, and you can buy one even if your name isn’t Biff, Tripp, or Buffy.

1987 Buick Grand National GNX © Provided by Automobile 1987 Buick Grand National GNX

1987 Buick Grand National GNX
Sold at $165,000

S/N 1G4GJ1170HP450730
Black with gray and black cloth interior. 300-hp, turbocharged, 3.8-liter V-6; four-speed automatic transmission. Excellent paint, trim, and glass. Just 362 miles, this is a new car in every way but age. One of 547 built

Buick had an Indy car racing program in these years, and this tuned, turbocharged V-6 could get the GNX to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. Sometimes it takes years for a car to become collectible. Other times it can be collectible from new. People have been watching the Buick Grand National GNX since it was first built, and more than a few were put away without any use. This is big money for a GNX but not stupid money. The new owner is expecting the value for this throwback to the 1960s will rise just like the values for classic cars of the 1960s.

1991 Jaguar XJS Convertible © Provided by Automobile 1991 Jaguar XJS Convertible

1991 Jaguar XJS convertible
Sold at $14,850

S/N SAJTW4842MC179111
Black over black leather interior. 286-hp, DOHC, 5.4-liter V-12; three-speed automatic transmission. The top shows little wear. Very good paint; the chrome is very good, as is the trim. Clean interior in all black—not all crisp but very nice.

The Jaguar XJS was in production in many forms from 1975 to 1996—including coupes and convertibles with the choice of inline-six or V-12 engines. Some 115,413 were built in total, and although the XJS was widely disdained in the beginning for poor build quality, it eventually matured into a 150-mph GT that was everything the E-type was supposed to be but never was. This V-12-powered example has a full complement of power equipment and luxury appointments, and triple black looks good on the XJS. A nice buy for its condition.

1986 Chevrolet El Camino SS © Provided by Automobile 1986 Chevrolet El Camino SS

1986 Chevrolet El Camino SS
Sold at $20,900

S/N 3GCCW80H4GS909507
White over blue vinyl interior. 140-hp, OHV, 5.0-liter V-8; three-speed automatic transmission. 48,000 miles. This is a “Designer Series” car from Choo-Choo Customs based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Chattanooga Choo-Choo, get it? Ask your granddad.) These were factory-authorized appearance conversions that had no performance modifications.

The El Camino is a perfect collector car; it has the driving feel of a car from its era yet it has utility that you can still appreciate. Built from 1959 to 1987, the El Camino was the longest lasting of the car-truck combos from Chevy, Crosley, Ford, Hudson, GMC, and Pontiac. The seller says this is one of 4,950 El Caminos modified by Choo-Choo Customs from 1983 to 1987. Think of it as a way to remember the 1980s, even if you don’t want to. Expensive, but worth the bid.

1998 Ferrari F355 F1 © Provided by Automobile 1998 Ferrari F355 F1

1998 Ferrari F355 F1
Sold at $40,700

S/N ZFFXR48B000111447
Dark blue over black leather interior. 380-hp, DOHC, 3.5-liter V-8; six-speed single-clutch automatic transmission. Very obvious repaint, as the bumper color is a few shades off the rest of the body. The interior shows wear. The overall condition of this survivor is just so-so.

Pssst. Hey buddy, want to buy a cheap Ferrari at auction? Even your mother would tell you that buying a car with an information card that reads “previous salvage title” should be enough to make you think hard before putting in your bid. You could buy it and spend an untold fortune to fix it up, and you’d have a fast Ferrari with shift paddles, but finding someone to buy it after all that work could be problematic. This was a lot of money to pay for a Ferrari with a bunch of questions, but some folks get lucky. And luck is what the new owner is going to need.

2004 Panoz Esperante © Provided by Automobile 2004 Panoz Esperante

2004 Panoz Esperante
Sold at $24,200

S/N 1P9PB47314B213023
Sapphire blue metallic over tan leather interior. 305-hp, DOHC, 4.6-liter V-8; five-speed automatic transmission. Very good paint; nice details and finish. Very clean interior with excellent seats and dash.

The Panoz Esperante was a Mustang-based car with a beautiful all-aluminum body that was built at a small facility in Georgia by the son of racing entrepreneur Don Panoz. When new, the price was more than $90,000, and many appreciate the car’s good looks as both coupe and convertible. The hand-built Ford V-8 is sharply responsive, but the live rear axle is pretty tame. Many race-oriented accessories are available. It’s unique, better looking, and far better to drive than any comparable or subsequent Mustang by Ford SVT or Shelby. Sold at a no-harm-done price that seems to reflect the current market.

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