Monterey Car Week was a blast, and not just because I got to watch David’s face light up as our simple country boy took his first taste of caviar (don’t worry, this didn’t change David, on the way home he enthusiastically burst into our Mazda CX-5 loaner with teriyaki beef jerky and classic nacho cheese Doritos). I also had the opportunity to take in a few auctions in the presence of co-founder Beau Boeckmann and his pals, who are all experts on the subject.
Of course, some of us lack the scratch necessary to participate so let’s assume, as a thought exercise, that your Aunt Milty handed you $300,000 on the condition that you had to spend it at Pebble Beach. You see, your Aunt Milty was a helluva gal, but she earned all that money tending to her haberdashery in Mamaroneck and never got to enjoy it. She doesn’t want you to make the same mistake. Enjoy life! Buy a car that runs.
We’re going to set a few ground rules:
- Add 20% to the final cost to account for buyer’s premium, taxes, et cetera if it’s not listed.
- If a premium is listed just take the premium
- If there’s no sale price listed, take the lower estimate and add 20%
- You can buy as many cars as you want or as few, so long as it adds up to $300k or less
- We’ll assume you brought your friends with you so you don’t need to worry about transportation, et cetera
To help, here are links to some of the main auctions. A couple require logins to see results:
In order to give you some encouragement and guidance, I will show you how I might spend the money, although I keep finding new cars and changing my mind:
1991 Corvette ZR1 – Mecum Auctions (LOT F103)
I have a soft spot for C4s and a red ZR1 is near the top of my list of Corvettes I will one day own. It’s got the strange and wonderful quad-cam V8 developed by Lotus and built by Mercury Marine. By modern standards its 405 horsepower isn’t a ton, but it’s plenty for what this is supposed to do.
Final bid: $35,200
That’s $42,600 with the 20% add-on and leaves me with $257,400.
1984 Ferrari 400i – RM Auctions (LOT 304)
Photo courtesy of RM Auctions
I’m a family man and I’d be a poor father/husband if I got something I couldn’t bring my two loves along in. Like ice cream cake at a 1st grader’s birthday party, Pininfarina 2+2s from this era are irresistible to me. They are the Fudgie the Whale of Italian coupes. I’m slightly partial to the Fiat 130, but a 400i will do quite nicely. It’s exotic without being showy, retro without being ironic, and it has pop-up headlights so I can forgive the GM-sourced 3-speed.
Sale Price: $89,600
That’s $107,520 with the 20% add-on and leaves me with $149,800.
1968 Porsche 911 2.0 Coupe – Bonhams (LOT 112)
Photo courtesy of Bonhams
A 911 is always going to feel like the right purchase and a classic short-wheelbase original with under 75,000 miles is hard to ignore. Porsches are plentiful, of course, but this one is within a reasonable range and I’m just a complete sucker for the burgundy-over-black color. I could easily live with this.
Sale Price w/ Premium: $104,160
So that’s $45,640 to spend.
2000 Ford Excursion – Mecum
Photos courtesy of Mecum
With the money left there are a lot of interesting choices, but now I have now put together a fleet of German, American, and Italian two-doors. Camping with my family is something I enjoy and, reasonably, one of these vehicles may need a tow at some point. This was part of the low-mileage collection, which would be hilarious above 100,000 miles for almost anything other a Powerstroke turbo-diesel. I got to take a peek at it during the auction and it seemed in good shape. The price is also fair, compared to recent sales.
Sale Price: $29,700
That’s $35,640 with the 20% add-on and leaves me with $10,000 to spend on some new tires and gas.
Check out those listings at the top of the post, and show us in the comments a list of cars that you’d like to buy for a total of $300 large.
[Editor’s Note: I had the chance to watch an absolutely incredible auction go down at RM Sothesby’s. The car was beautiful, the price was out of this world, the buyer was interesting, and the room — oh god, you could hear a pin drop. It was tense, but exciting. I can’t wait to tell you more. Until then, humor us with your theoretical car purchases! -DT]
Top photo courtesy of Bonhams