COL­LEC­TORS CASH­ING IN

The Weekend Australian - Life - - MOTORING - JOHN CON­NOLLY jc@jcp.com.au

In the past two months col­lec­tors have forked out $600 mil­lion for clas­sic cars dur­ing Amer­ica’s an­nual Auto Auc­tion­aged­don in Ari­zona and Florida.

Jerry Se­in­feld un­loaded his old Porsches and a Bee­tle for $30m, Dave Good­ing sold a 1961 Fer­rari 250 GT SWB for $23m and Dana Me­cum sold a 1970 Ply­mouth Hemi ’Cuda for $3.5m, but the high­light was Bon­hams sell­ing a 1994 Porsche 928 GTS for $173,000.

The 928 GTS has been the world’s most for­got­ten supercar. The 406 mod­els Porsche shipped to the US were among the most ex­pen­sive cars for sale at the time. In Aus­tralia you prob­a­bly paid $250,000 for the V8 tourer. Then Porsche went back to back-en­gined sixes and the 928 went into obliv­ion.

En­ter Michael Will­hort from Spring­field, Illinois. Mick sells low-mileage Porsches in concours con­di­tion for concours money. Sin­gle-handly he cre­ated aware­ness and a very prof­itable mar­ket for the front-en­gine Porker. Mick has been get­ting up to $143,000 for the GTS, way above its price when new.

The car Bon­hams sold had two very de­sir­able fea­tures. It was a five-speed man­ual (most were au­tos) and it didn’t have a sun­roof (adds weight and not good for tall peo­ple, or peo­ple with a big head). Re­mem­ber, this is the car Ferdy and the boys at the Porker HQ built to take over from the 911. Sales of the 911 were fall­ing, the en­vi­ron­ment was be­com­ing an is­sue and rear en­gines were not pop­u­lar af­ter Ralph Nader pub­lished Un­safe at Any Speed.

Ralph pointed out some of the en­dear­ing fea­tures of the Ford Cor­vair, such as the ten­dency of the steer­ing col­umn to im­pale the driver, a heater that filled the cabin with deadly fumes and the fact that while the front liked go­ing around cor­ners the back didn’t. Time mag­a­zine named the Cor­vair as one of the 50 worst cars of all time, in a list that in­cluded the 1958 250cc Zun­dapp Janus. As Time said: “Its unique fea­ture was the rear-fac­ing bench seat, which meant pas­sen­gers could watch in hor­ror as traf­fic threat­ened to rear-end this rolling road­block of a car.”

Un­til this col­umn ap­pears, good 928s are cheap buy­ing in Aus­tralia, with prices well below $100,000. You can buy a cat­e­gory-one Cor­vair for $6500.

Talk­ing of great in­vest­ments, RM Sothe­bys sold a 1962 Fer­rari 400 Su­per­amer­ica LWB Coupe Aero­d­i­nam­ico for a world record $5.7m, nearly a mil­lion over the high es­ti­mate. Last month in Paris RM sold an­other 400 Su­per­amer­ica for $4.2m. While th­ese were both con­di­tion-one cars, the re­al­ity is ev­ery one of th­ese mod­els has dou­bled in price over the past three years. In 2012, Dave Good­ing sold for $3m at auc­tion a car that was owned by Er­win Gold­schmidt and had been in his fam­ily for more than 40 years. Er­win was the son of Ja­cob Gold­schmidt, the Nazis’ most hated Ger­man banker. Forced out of Ger­many to the US, Er­win was al­ready a petrol­head with se­ri­ously good taste in fast rides.

Talk­ing of other forms of art, Good­ing had a field day at Amelia Is­land, sell­ing Jerry Se­in­feld’s 1960 peb­ble-grey Bee­tle for $157,850. Now, if you go on Gumtree you can buy a sim­i­lar car for $1000. Even the best of the best shouldn’t cost you more than $38,000.

Hav­ing said that, Dave sold a rare, split-win­dow 1951 Ger­man mar­ket Bee­tle for $80,000. Be­fore you rush out to the wreck­ers, this dark blue VW has been re­stored to bet­ter than new. For those of us who re­mem­ber, it has turn in­di­ca­tors that spring from the B pil­lars and an en­gine that wouldn’t pull the lid off a coffee. Full dec­la­ra­tion: I rolled one of th­ese in my youth and have never trusted them since.

So the bot­tom line for the past two months of auc­tion ac­tion is that re­ally good cars are sell­ing re­ally well. Not-so-great cars, even with Fer­rari or Se­in­feld’s name at­tached, aren’t mak­ing es­ti­mate or sell­ing at all.

This 1994 Porsche 928 GTS sold for $173,000

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