Monterey Car Week is nearly upon us, a festival of internal combustion and opulence as impressive as you could imagine. It’s a place where the latest and greatest supercars rub shoulders with historic automotive greats, and where some seriously pricey metal changes hands. However, you don’t have to be on any Forbes list to buy something at Car Week. Some of the purportedly cheapest cars and bikes being auctioned off during Monterey Car Week are also some of the weirdest, and we are 100 percent here for them. Shall we dig in?
Estimated value: $8,000 to $12,000
It shouldn’t be surprising that a bike is the cheapest vehicle on any of the fancy-pants auctions’ run lists, and this popular Ducati moped is certainly a weird one. The Cucciolo was an engine kit made to help mobilize post-war Italy, and it was arguably the genesis of modern-day Ducati. See, before the war, Ducati was a radio equipment company, which is about as far from a motorcycle manufacturer as you can get. However, after the war, Ducati was looking to pivot and was given an unlikely opportunity by Italian automaker Siata.
Siata had a little 48cc engine that could be attached to a bicycle, and demand was outstripping supply. The firm needed a manufacturing partner fast, and that partner ended up being Ducati. From the Cucciolo engine, a motorcycle empire was born, and the rest is history. Now, is a possibly five-figure moped an expensive purchase? Sure, but it’s also an undeniable part of history.
Estimated value: More than $0.75
[Editor’s Note: I asked Thomas to remove a car because our boss may or may not want to bid on it, and it’s best to keep that on the DL so he has the best chance of winning it. That way we get to drive it, and create sweet, sweet Autopian content. -DT].
Don’t worry, there was supposed to be an actual car in this section of the article, but, uhh, my boss kinda wants it, so it’s something to keep on the down-low, even if it’s totally something you can find. Still, we must press on, so here’s everything I can tell you about this fine machine. This is indisputably one of the cars of all time. Powered by an engine of some capacity, driving at least one wheel, it’s a vehicle for leaving one place and arriving somewhere else. Built in a country that probably still exists out of man-made materials, it’s truly a way to get around.
It comes comprehensively equipped with standard amenities including upholstery, a steering wheel, a dashboard, and air inside the cabin. It’s a car that will astonish onlookers, as their brains collectively form one uniform thought: “That is certainly a mode of transportation.” It exited production in the same way that it entered production — entirely in the previous century. I can say with utmost certainty that it isn’t a 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva, for nothing is a 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva other than the 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva. You are now thinking about the 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva. How does that feel?
Estimated value: $40,000 to $60,000
Alright, we’re moving on up from new well-specced RAV4 money to new well-specced Kia Telluride money for this one, but that’s not horrible considering what you’re getting. Thanks to the likes of Tyler, the Creator, the underloved Rolls-Royce Camargue is finally getting some of the appreciation it deserves, and a handbuilt Rolls-Royce coupe for new Korean family hauler money is still a bit of a bargain. Styled by Paolo Martin at Pininfarina, the Camargue was a more modern sort of Rolls-Royce primed for the ’70s. Unfortunately, the Grey Poupon and Saville Row set that typically bought Rolls-Royces balked so hard at the squared-off styling that production was barely more than a trickle. Rolls-Royce made just 531 of these flagship coupes over an eleven-year production run, with this being one of the last. Now that’s rarity.
However, rarity alone doesn’t make a car desirable, for undesirability is rarely a redeeming quality. So, let’s start with the biggie — presence. The Camargue is a monolith, it moves with the stealth and discreetness of an airstrike. It’s a car for arrivals and departures, for everyone will notice it coming and everyone will see it leaving. What’s more, there’s nothing wedding about it, which can’t be said for a Silver Spirit. It drips with money and power like sweat from an ironworker’s brow, but it does so without being vulgar. It’s a crisp wind of reality, echoing the high-grade interior appointments. The wood is real wood, the leather is real leather, the metal is real metal. You could lose a small dog in the deep-pile carpet, and bring friends in comfort in the enormous rear seat. The Camargue is a Rolls through-and-through, but it’s completely devoid of cliché. To get all this for new three-row crossover money, well, that has to be some sort of steal, even if this one has a saggy bum.
Estimated value: $30,000 to $40,000
Okay, now here’s a real use of new mid-range crossover money. Why ferry your family around in the same competent anonymity as pretty much everyone buying new cars these days, when you can glide on an oleopneumatic cushion? Other than the obvious issues of reliability, safety, parts availability, and all that left-brain stuff, of course. The Citroen ID20 Break is magnificent, an updated version of the Robert Opron-massaged Series 3 model fit for the 1970s with its five-bearing two-liter engine.
Even though the ID was a lower-spec DS variant, it was still heavy on the tech, style, and comfort. Ride quality is surreal in a true magic carpet sense, cargo room is enormous, the oleopneumatic suspension is one hell of a party trick, and the coachwork still looks futuristic all these decades on. Plus, with 90 horsepower on tap, the ID20 should still be usable in modern traffic. How good is that?
Estimated Value: $30,000 to $40,000
Looking like a pocket-sized supercar, the Autozam AZ-1 — don’t you call it a Mazda — embodies the Japanese bubble era more than any other kei car. Here was a city-sized tax break special with gullwing doors, a mid-engined layout, and less cargo space than a bicycle. It’s a driveable meringue: Light, largely devoid of nutritional value, yet oh so sweet. Who wouldn’t want stellar fuel economy and doors that go up?
This particular Autozam AZ-1 sports an incredibly low 58,301 kilometers (36,227 miles) on its odometer and comes sporting a series of aftermarket upgrades. The white Volk TE37 alloy wheels look fabulous, while larger anti-roll bars and an aftermarket exhaust system ought to up the sportiness of this tiny delight. Sure, it’s expensive for something that’s somehow less practical than a Lotus Elise, and it failed to sell on Bring A Trailer in 2021 with a high bid of $20,000, but it’s now up for grabs with no reserve, so we’ll just have to see where it hammers at.
So, which of these four unusual machines is your favorite? I think I’d have to go for the Citroen, only because my love for oleopneumatic French cruisers is deep-seated and almost lifelong. Every so often, a CX and an SM would appear in my childhood neighborhood, and I’d stand hands-in-pockets, marveling at these magnificent pieces of engineering. They felt like alien objects from a future that never panned out, living proof that a more interesting roadscape was possible. Why would anyone have bought a Buick Park Avenue or Cadillac Eldorado over these things? Sure, old GM boats can be fixed with shoelaces and a hammer, but I’m too much of a heart-on-sleeve, relentless, beaming optimist about interesting cars that I’d have made it work. However, maybe you want the complete opposite of a Panigale V4, a little slice of Gran Turismo nostalgia, or something completely different, and that’s totally cool, for there are no bad picks in this bunch. The heart wants what the heart wants, right?
(Photo credits: Gooding & Co., Bonhams, Broad Arrow Auctions)
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