Home » The Car Market Is No Longer Crazy: A Look At Cars That Recently Sold And Didn’t Sell At Auction

The Car Market Is No Longer Crazy: A Look At Cars That Recently Sold And Didn’t Sell At Auction

Toyota Supra Gavel Gazing Ts
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Fun cars are fun to own, but they certainly haven’t been fun to buy for the last few years. As soon as everyone stopped going on vacations and had a pandemic-induced crisis, prices on enthusiast cars shot through the roof, pricing many people out of the market for their attainable dream cars. Now, though? Things might be changing, so let’s have a look at some enthusiast cars to see if that’s obvious.

Welcome back to Gavel Gazing, our periodic look at the cars that catch our eye on internet auction sites. Last week’s six-speed manual Aston Martin DB9 didn’t quite catch up to new Lexus LC 500 pricing, but it came reasonably close with a winning bid of $80,000. That’s still on the cheaper end of the manual V12 spectrum, even if that’s a pricey spectrum to be on.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Today, we’re trying something new on Gavel Gazing. Instead of looking at cars that are up for auction, we look at cars that have already hammered. That way, we can make a judgment call on whether something’s well-bought or well-sold, compare historical values, and notice trends. This time? How about a Hummer H2 convertible, an Opel GT, and evidence suggesting the enthusiast car market might be softening, or at the very least it’s no longer crazy. Let’s dig in.

2008 Hummer H2 Convertible: $41,000

Hummer H2 Convertible 1

Hummer never made an H2 convertible, but that didn’t stop someone from making one anyway. According to the listing, “this 2008 Hummer H2 was converted to a convertible by Newport Convertible Engineering of Placentia, California in November 2008,” and if that business name sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. Remember the Subaru WRX STI convertible that went viral years back? Same company.

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Hummer H2 Convertible Trunk

Even though the top still uses old-school snaps, the conversion looks up to the OEM standards of GM at the time with taut fabric and a frame that fits the H2’s shape. Sure, the drop-top conversion absolutely kills cargo space, but that’s to be expected. The H2 is an awfully big vehicle, and all that new fabric roof material has to go somewhere.

Hummer H2 Convertible Rear

Despite this H2’s uniqueness and reasonably low 64,000-mile odometer reading, it definitely isn’t among the most expensive H2s ever sold on Bring A Trailer, with several nice examples hammering for north of $50,000 in the past two years, and the all-time record being set by a Duramax-swapped example that fetched $77,500. At the same time, more normal H2s routinely sell below $30,000, so I’d consider this unusual convertible conversion both well-bought and well-sold.

1971 Opel GT: $21,973

Opel Gt 1

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Oh yeah, it’s Opel GT time. Come on, how many cars have both manual pop-up headlights and a brake master cylinder mounted ahead of the core support? These little bundles of joy were Opel’s shot at a miniature Corvette, and they absolutely rule. Tiny car, great looks, stereotypically German build quality, just a wonderful weekend toy.

Opel Gt Interior

This particular example has been repainted yellow, a color that perfectly fits the Opel GT’s personality. Teamed with a jaunty set of stripes and yellow seat inserts, this diminutive bumblebee exists to bring joy to everyone around it. The 1.9-liter single overhead cam makes an irrelevant amount of horsepower, because this whole car is about experience rather than numbers.

Opel Gt 2

Believe it or not, this is the fifth-most expensive Opel GT ever sold on Bring A Trailer, an impressive feat considering 28 examples have been sold on the platform so far. However, the one-piece bodies of these cars like to trap corrosion, so finding a clean example like this is exceptionally rare. It’s a fantastic, unexpected result in a changing collector car market, and the seller should be proud of themselves.

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2008 BMW M3: $35,000

E90 M3

Contrary to popular belief, the 2000s was a great time for BMW. Sure, Chris Bangle’s styling direction wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but the V8 5 Series finally got a steering rack instead of a steering box, the 3 Series just grew better and better, and the M3 went from strength to strength, with the legendary inline-six-powered E46 M3 giving way to the insane V8-powered E90. These little weapons are still reasonably priced, and proof that a little internet fearmongering goes a long way.

E90 M3 Interior

Let’s start with this example, a one-family-owned 2008 M3 sedan with the six-speed manual that’s basically flawless. It’s had the rod bearings done, it’s had the throttle actuators done, it’s a California car, it has just 80,000 miles on the clock, and it hammered for $35,000. Sure, it has a minor claim on the Carfax for bumper damage, but this is the sort of M3 well-read enthusiasts want. What’s more, $35,000 is a fair result, about what we’d expect to see from a car of this spec and condition.

E90 M3 2

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So why are these glorious cars so cheap? Well, rod bearing tolerances are tight, so the bearings are a maintenance item. Expect to pay $2,000 to $3,000 for rod bearing replacement. In addition, throttle actuators do fail, but they aren’t expensive to have rebuilt. These E90 cars are less problematic than their E46 M3 predecessors, but they aren’t trouble-free. Plan ahead, and these cars can be tremendous bargains as far as manual, rear-wheel-drive, V8 sports sedans go.

2006 Mercedes-Benz C280 4MATIC: $9,300

W203

Here’s a really nice example of a completely and utterly unremarkable car. The W203 C-Class was fine, but not particularly special, and this one has just 41,000 miles on the clock. It has a nondescript three-liter V6 engine making an adequate amount of horsepower, and it’s connected to a perfectly whelming five-speed automatic transmission. The single most interesting thing about this car is its overengineered cupholder, and with two hits on the Carfax and the lease-special spec of silver over black, this is just a used car.

However, it’s hard to find a decent used car for less than $10,000, and this one is a damn good deal. It has four matching Michelin tires, a sign of a good previous owner, and the interior looks certified pre-owned fresh. Other than the infamous conductor plate problems that are still relatively cheap to sort, these W203s are fairly solid used luxury cars, and if it’s a choice between a C280 and a Dodge Avenger, I’m picking the Benz every time. With a hammer price of $9,300 on Cars & Bids, this thing was well-bought.

The Ones That Didn’t Make It

Singer Porsche enthusiast car market

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Casting a dark shadow over the glamor of internet car auctions is the number of cars that haven’t met reserve as of late. While the typical procedure when a vehicle at an online auction doesn’t meet reserve is to try and reach a deal between the seller and the highest bidder, vehicles not meeting reserve could be a sign of declining prices.

Land Rover enthusiast car market

Over on Bring A Trailer, this nice 1982 Land Rover 88 Series III Diesel failed to meet reserve with a high bid of $26,000, a figure that would’ve been perfectly reasonable in 2022. Here’s one from the same model year in the same color, albeit with a white hardtop, that sold for $26,750 back in 2022.

240z enthusiast car market

This driver-spec Datsun 240Z failed to meet reserve with a high bid of just $13,000, one of the lowest results we’ve seen from a 240Z since 2020. For comparison, this rattier 240Z sold for $15,500 in 2022.

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996 Cab enthusiast car market

No fewer than four Porsche 911s failed to meet reserve on Bring A Trailer yesterday, including a Singer that attracted a high bid of $955,000. On the more reasonable end of the spectrum, a grey 996 Tiptronic cabriolet with a well-worn interior failed to attract a bid higher than $19,000, a 41,000-mile 997 Carrera S failed to meet reserve with a high bid of $44,650, and a beautiful 996 six-speed Carrera 4 with the aerokit likely had an optimistic reserve as the highest bid it attracted was $43,299. Most of these high bids aren’t particularly outlandish compared to earlier results, so they could be signs of the enthusiast car market softening.

C7 Corvette enthusiast car market

Oh, and a couple of Corvettes didn’t meet reserve either. This 2003 C5 Z06 missed reserve with a high bid of $20,230, possibly due to a lack of communication from the seller. On the other hand, this driver-condition automatic 2017 Stingray had a communicative seller, but failed to meet reserve with a high bid of just $38,700. Now that’s a soft result.

Mk4 Supra enthusiast car market

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Over on Cars & Bids, it’s a similar story. This naturally-aspirated right-hand-drive 1995 Toyota Supra in Baltic Blue Metallic failed to meet reserve, attracting a high bid of $27,750. That’s the lowest result of any A80 Supra on Cars & Bids, and softer than anything Bring A Trailer has seen since 2020. This is a big deal because not only is this Supra in fairly nice shape, its seller was communicative and the Mk4 Supra is the textbook internet automobile, a pillar of the new enthusiast car market. Even though right-hand-drive and naturally-aspirated Supras are the least valuable Mk4s, history shows higher values than this.

S600 enthusiast car market

Likewise, this gorgeous black C140 Mercedes-Benz S600 Coupe on a rare and awesome set of AMG multipiece wheels failed to meet reserve with a high bid of $15,800. That’s down 20 percent compared to Bring A Trailer results from 2022, particularly this 1995 model year car with 11,500 fewer miles on the clock that went for $19,750 last year.

The bottom line? Some sellers in the enthusiast car market still want COVID pricing, and buyers aren’t willing to pay it. The collector car market is somewhat softening (it’s “flat” as Doug says in the video above), and while I doubt we’ll see pricing dip lower than we saw in 2019, it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future holds.

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(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer, Cars & Bids)

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Lucas Zaffuto
Lucas Zaffuto
7 months ago

That 240Z seems like a nice car for the money. Is it not?

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
7 months ago

I love the Opel GT and find them strikingly attractive. A few years ago I spent quite a bit of time talking to an owner with an impeccably restored example. The owner made sure to note that although it looks like a baby C3 it’s actually not a copied body style as the designs were contemporaneous – more an example of parallel evolution. I also dig how the headlights flip side to side rather than pop up or flip forward to back.

Elhigh
Elhigh
7 months ago

Getting over $20,000 on an Opel GT is bonkers. Especially with the unimpressive stock engine aboard. Though how you feel about swaps and provenance might move the needle either way, it never really impressed me.

So you know, the Opel 1.9 CIH is a “cam in head” engine. The camshaft isn’t overhead; it’s off to one side and actuates the valves via tappets and rocker arms. I would know; I set the lash on ours when we reinstalled the head.

Newcarpetsmell
Newcarpetsmell
7 months ago

Don’t know why anyone would pay more than $10-15k for an NA Supra, and that’s only if the chassis is in good shape. The drivetrain is almost worthless; you’ll be spending at least (likely more) than what you paid for it to get a GTE and V160 in there.

Last edited 7 months ago by Newcarpetsmell
Flinched
Flinched
7 months ago

The era of a rising tide lifts all boats in the collector car market is over, largely due to cheap, easy money available to almost everyone. Original condition and blue chip cars will hold the best values but there’s still lots of overpriced crap out there. I look forward to going to car meets and hearing about how much owners love caring for and driving their cars, not its value.

Flinched
Flinched
7 months ago
Reply to  Flinched

*cheap easy money no longer available

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
7 months ago

I have definitely noticed an uptick in cars not meeting reserve lately on cars and bids.

Arturia
Arturia
7 months ago

A lightly used base corvette under 40k means all is returning to normal

WR250R
WR250R
7 months ago

The slow down needs to come but it still hurts. We sell landscaping and agriculture equipment and the amount of people walking in the door has massively gone down in the past six months. Prices actually have stayed consistent but cost of living has gone way up. People just don’t have the means to purchase

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
7 months ago

E90 M3s are really cool on paper but I’d never want to own one personally. They’re really temperamental, as all of the NA BMW performance engines of this era are. They’re all cool as hell and I’ll admire from afar, but the price of admission is only the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

Plus in this era the automatic isn’t viable. I personally would be happy with an M car that has a ZF8 or BMW’s DCT, but anything SMG is no dice, and in my experience manuals tend to go for as much as 5 figures more.

$19,000 for a tiptronic 996 seems downright reasonable to me to be honest. That transmission sucks ass and 996s have become dramatically overvalued anyway. The idea of paying 40-60k for one of the high performance ones just seems like a hilariously bad idea. I guess the Turbos are a halfway decent deal but you’re going to be in for a world of mechanical hurt in this era of Porsche.

I do understand why 997s and particularly 997.2s remain desirable though. They’re no where near the nightmare that 996s are mechanically and once you get to the .2s the IMS issues were sorted out AND they replaced the clunky tiptronic with PDK, so an automatic is no longer an instant no dice for a lot of people. Plus they look like classic Porsches rather than the bulbous 996s with their fried egg headlights.

Happy to see an A80 Supra not sell to be honest. I don’t think there’s a single more overvalued car on the entire market right now. The JDM Bro Tax is real and takes no prisoners. Here’s my HAWT take: non turbo and/or automatic A80s should be 25-35k cars and the turbo/manual ones everyone lusts after should be 40-55k at most.

They’re cool cars, but people have lost their damn minds. The fact that folks are essentially paying 911/Z06/LC500/GTR money for them right now is just absurd. Hell, would anyone care THAT much if the car didn’t star in the Fast series? I don’t think so. They needed to come down years ago and I hope the trend continues. And before anyone tells me about THE TOOOOOONING POTENTIAL there are countless other options you can make big power out of for less money.

Last edited 7 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
Juan Rodríguez
Juan Rodríguez
7 months ago

I´ve always loved the e90/92 gen so I was wondering, would it be worth it to pick up an smg equipped unit and convert it to manual or to just go and buy a manual one directly?

Brian Ash
Brian Ash
7 months ago

Manual’s fetch a premium but it’s not easy to source the tranny to convert an SMG. The SMG in the e9x wasn’t as bad as the e46 M3 or e6x M5/M6, believe it was version 3, but I always viewed all the SMGs as ticking bombs and considering parts are NLA. You could always convert an SMG car to a DCT, but more complicated than that to a manual.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

SMG to manual conversions are definitely out there. I’ve seen them on YouTube a few times. It’s absolutely doable and there’s a blueprint for how to, but I’m not particularly mechanically inclined so I can’t really comment on how difficult it would be.

I also think it’ll be way harder to source a BMW/ZF manual that can handle that much power. It would probably be less of a headache to put a Tremec or something like that in.

V10omous
V10omous
7 months ago

It would probably be less of a headache to put a Tremec or something like that in.

At that point, just buy a GXP or SS that has the Tremec from the factory, and you’re probably coming out ahead financially anyways.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
7 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I love the SS, I just think they’re a little too expensive for what they are in today’s market. I couldn’t really justify spending $50,000+ on a nice one.

V10omous
V10omous
7 months ago

That’s fair, I’d just have an easier time doing so than spending $20-30K on a 15 year old BMW, and possibly adding a transmission swap on top of that.

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
7 months ago

SS prices are softening. You can get a good one for $40k, or a bit more.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
7 months ago

Can you? All the reasonably priced ones I’ve found have had some combination of high miles/accidents/automatics. In my area nice manual ones will still run you about 50 grand. Even though I’m one of our resident automatic apologists the consensus seems to be that the one in the SS is bad enough to ruin the experience.

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
7 months ago

They might list them for $50k, but I wonder what they actually end up selling for.
https://bringatrailer.com/listing/2016-chevrolet-ss-sedan-9/
https://carsandbids.com/auctions/rG4eGwyg/2017-chevrolet-ss

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
7 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

And the good Tremec – the 6060, like in the Viper and many others.

V10omous
V10omous
7 months ago

Yeah I don’t recognize anything else as a real Tremec.

Juan Rodríguez
Juan Rodríguez
7 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I´d love to go for a Chevy SS but as Nsane In The MembraNe pointed out, this cars are fairly expensive for a nice example and in my case, giving that I´m from Spain, I would have to pay the horrible import taxes that exist over here; so I would probably be spending around 80 or 90k for one and that is simply not justifiable imo.
I guess that for v8 powered car here in Europe the most reasonable option would be a s550 mustang gt (which is my preferred option) but I´m a bit worried about the mt-82 transmission.

V10omous
V10omous
7 months ago

Do you have displacement taxes in Spain? Is owning a 5-6 liter engine financially crippling like it is in some other European countries?

Juan Rodríguez
Juan Rodríguez
7 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yes, but I don´t think that it´s as bad as in other European countries, and the state/region of Spain where you have your car registered matters a lot . For example, for a S550 where I live I´d have to pay around 170 euros in taxes per year, in Madrid it would be around twice that figure.
Then again, if you compare it with a 1.0t fiesta it´s a lot given that you´d only have to pay 16 euros per year for the supermini.

EXL500
EXL500
7 months ago

Wheeler Dealers did a swap on an e4x M3, and claimed it was relatively easy.

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
7 months ago
Reply to  Brian Ash

The E9x M3 has the DCT, not the SMG.

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
7 months ago

The E9x M3 has the DCT, not the SMG.

davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
davesaddiction - Long Live OPPO!
7 months ago

The E9x M3 has the DCT, not the SMG.

V10omous
V10omous
7 months ago

Taking out a loan at 9% to buy a fun car is a lot less fun than taking one out at 2% (alternatively pulling money from a 5% earning account is a lot harder than from a 0.05% account), I don’t think it’s any more complicated than that.

Skurdnee
Skurdnee
7 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

that and my grocery staples are double what they were in 2020. car insurance rates are up, too.

Last edited 7 months ago by Skurdnee
Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
7 months ago
Reply to  Skurdnee

Our grocery bills have essentially doubled in the last 3 years. It’s absurd.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
7 months ago

I wish mine had only doubled, as looking back to what it was for us in 2020 we are up closer to triple. We did move states in that time frame, but ouch.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
7 months ago

We added a baby in 2020. Our grocery bills have tripled so that we can spend $150 on berries every week.

V10omous
V10omous
7 months ago
Reply to  Skurdnee

Car insurance is the one I’ve noticed most, and which makes the least sense.

Groceries around here have been fairly stable, at least compared to what I hear people who live elsewhere saying.

In any case though, I sincerely hope the person deciding whether to bid $75,000 or $80,000 for a Supra he will never drive is not sweating his grocery bills.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
7 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

This is the reality right now. Money is no longer cheap, so prices for non-necessities will flatten. The prices in the housing market are experiencing similar tends at the moment, at least in some markets.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
7 months ago

We bought in early 22 to try to take advantage of the ridiculously low interest rates while we still could. Unfortunately property values in our area have been stagnant ever since and are likely to go way down in the next year or so. The Fed continuing to shout YEE HAWWWW RATES GO UP! is not going to bode well for anyone but the ultra wealthy.

That being said we do live in DC, so the bottom of the bell curve isn’t nearly as catastrophic for us as it will be for folks in the exurbs and country.

Last edited 7 months ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
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