All posts by Bob Golfen

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle.He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs.A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

Maserati Ghibli heads Mecum’s flagship sale in Florida

The 1969 Maserati Ghibli 4.9 Spyder after its $920,000 sale | Mecum Auctions photos
The 1969 Maserati Ghibli 4.9 Spyder after its $920,000 sale | Mecum Auctions photos

A Maserati Ghibli Spyder led Mecum’s auction of just under 2,000 collector vehicles during the mammoth sale last week in Kissimmee, Florida, considered to be the biggest annual collector car auction in the world. With nearly 2,700 vehicles offered, the auction boasted a 75 percent sell-through rate and a total of $86 million in sales, not including auction fees.

The Road Art auction that accompanied the collector car sale had a 93 percent sell-though, with 1,260 pieces of automobilia, parts and collectables sold for a total of $2.5 million, not including fees.

Additionally, ticket sales were up 20 percent compared with last year, the auction house reported, and a record number of page views during the 10-day event were garnered on its website.

Mecum had a record number of ticket sales
Mecum had a record number of ticket sales

But the overall results were down from last year’s.  Sales totaled nearly $95 million with the buyer fees added, compared with the year-ago record number of more than $100 million with fees added. The 2016 auction was boosted by million-dollar-plus results for two Hemi-powered Plymouth ‘Cuda convertibles and a Dodge Challenger Hemi convertible, which added about $6.6 million to the bottom line.

This year, there were no seven-figure cars. The top-selling 1969 Maserati Ghibli 4.9 Spyder hammered at $920,000. The bright-yellow Maserati was followed by a 1967 Chevy Corvette 427 convertible, the only-known 435-horsepower Vette originally painted black with a blue interior, that went for $775,000. All reported Mecum results are hammer prices without buyer fees.

A modern supercar, a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT, reached third-highest at $625,000, while a famed 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11 race car with the nickname “Old Reliable IV” went for $525,000. A specially equipped 1957 Chevrolet Corvette “Big Brake Airbox” was hammered at $450,000.

The top-10 sales for Mecum’s annual Florida auction were:

1. 1969 Maserati Ghibli 4.9 Spyder at $920,000
2. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible at $775,000
3. 2005 Porsche Carrera GT at $625,000
4. 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11 “Old Reliable IV” at $525,000
5. 1957 Chevrolet Corvette Big Brake Airbox at $450,000
6. 1963 Pontiac Catalina Swiss Cheese at $430,000
7. 1980 BMW M1 at $400,000
8. 1963 Chevrolet Impala Z11 at $340,000
9. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition at $327,500
10. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette split-window coupe at $300,000

(All Mecum sales results are hammer prices without auction fees)

Mecum’s next sale is its inaugural Los Angeles Auction, held February 17-18 at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. For information, visit the Mecum website.

Collector car experts explain how to stay ahead of the game

Panel guests were (from left) Clint Sly, Wayne Carini and Larry Edsall with moderator Wade Zawasaki | Bob Golfen
Panel guests were (from left) Clint Sly, Wayne Carini and Larry Edsall with moderator Wade Zawasaki | Bob Golfen

Passion rules the collector car hobby, but it’s always good to ride an upward trend and sell your automotive pride and joy for a profit.

That was the overarching message delivered Friday morning during a seminar of collector car industry experts entitled “Revving up Your Investments with Collector Cars,” presented by Coker Tire at the Russo and Steele collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. Continue reading

Mopar performance muscles in at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction

This restored 1963 Dodge  330 Max Wedge Lightweight is one of just nine built by the factory | Bob Golfen photos
This restored 1963 Dodge 330 Max Wedge Lightweight is one of just nine built by the factory | Bob Golfen photos

‘You don’t usually see these kinds of muscle cars here.”

That was the comment from a passerby at RM Sotheby’s auction as she walked by a group of vintage Mopar performance machines at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix, where the sale is being held.

Big pre-war classics and high-end sports cars are what come to mind at RM Sotheby’s, although the Arizona auction generally features a fairly wide range of collector cars. Still, a solid contingent of mighty 1960s muscle cars is somewhat unexpected in such polite society. Those more likely are found headlining the boisterous Barrett-Jackson or Russo and Steele auctions, both of which specialize in American ground pounders. Continue reading

What Bob would take home from Gooding’s Scottsdale auction

The 400-horsepower 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast greets visitors to Gooding's collection | Larry Edsall
The 400-horsepower 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast greets visitors to Gooding’s collection | Larry Edsall

As usual, Gooding & Company’s selection of collector vehicles is quite impressive, making it difficult to whittle my favorites to a mere nine. Forgetting about values and such (this is an exercise in dreaming, after all), I tried to hit a wide range of types and vintages without indulging my own desires. Too much.

Continue reading

Gilda, a sublime 1955 turbine car, offered at Barrett-Jackson

The turbine-powered Chrysler Ghia Streamline X 'Gilda' was designed with the aid of a wind tunnel | Barrett-Jackson photos
The turbine-powered Chrysler Ghia Streamline X ‘Gilda’ was designed with the aid of a wind tunnel | Barrett-Jackson photos

From a time when designers and engineers were attempting to blend automobiles with jet aircraft comes the 1955 Chrysler Ghia Streamline X, nicknamed Gilda after the Hollywood film and its glamorous leading lady, Rita Hayworth.

Gilda was a concept car commissioned by Chrysler design chief Virgil Exner and styled by Giovanni Savonuzzi with coachwork by Ghia of Turin, Italy. It was first shown at the 1955 Turin Motor Show, where it created a sensation. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 fastback

The Boss 302 is said to be the only with this combination of colors and equipment
The Boss 302 is said to be the only one with this combination of colors and equipment

Muscle-car dreams come back to life every year during Arizona Car Week, now with seven collector car auctions taking place. This is when you swear this could be the year that you spring for that piece of high-performance magic that has been haunting you for as long as you can remember.

The Pick of the Day is one of those cars that many enthusiasts see in their minds’ eyes: an all-out 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 fastback coupe. The Boss hit the spot back in their day, offering something new and exciting — track-like performance in a daily driver, and with a look meant to thrill and inspire. Continue reading

Arizona auctions again awash in Porsches as values hold

A restored 1967 Porsche 911S is among Barrett-Jackson's collection of Porsches | Barrett-Jackson
A restored 1967 Porsche 911S is among Barrett-Jackson’s collection  | Barrett-Jackson

Just when you thought the Porsche passion had crested, a new wave of 911s, 356s, race cars and exotics from the German sports car brand washes into the Scottsdale/Phoenix area for the seven auctions of Arizona Car Week. The prophesized burst of the bubble has not occurred, although values have flattened somewhat.

The classic 911 experienced the greatest run-up in prices during the past four years, with many former entry-level models reaching toward six figures, and more-desirable cars going well beyond. The upcoming Arizona auctions are again awash in 911s, with the total number just slightly less than last year’s selection. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1961 Chevrolet Impala SS hardtop

The Chevrolet Impala SS hardtop in Seamist Turquoise is said to be faithfully restored
The Chevrolet Impala SS hardtop in Seamist Turquoise is said to be faithfully restored

A special car for sale deserves a special description, right? The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, dealer advertising this 1961 Chevrolet Impala “bubbletop” hardtop was downright poetic in how he describes the car and its place in history.

“At the beginning of the 1960s, most Americans thought it was the beginning of something great, the start of the Golden Age is what it was referred to as,” the seller wrote for the ClassicCars.com ad. “What better way to kick off the Golden Age than by introducing the very special 1961 Chevrolet Impala bubbletop SS 2-DR? Continue reading

Driven: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid

Toyota went all out in enhancing the styling of the new Prius Prime | Bob Golfen photos
Toyota went all out in enhancing the styling of the new Prius Prime | Bob Golfen photos

Toyota pulled out all the stops in styling the all-new Prius Prime, creating something that seems like a cross between a space probe and a Lamborghini. That’s a good thing, raising its hipness quotient considerably and making the plug-in hybrid look as high-tech on the outside as it is underneath.

The Prius Prime is new for 2017 and is another effort by Toyota to market a plug-in car with the clean economy of a pure electric vehicle with the practicality of a hybrid. The last go-round for a plug-in Prius resulted in less-than-stellar reviews, most complaining that it seemed like a half-hearted effort that didn’t work all that well. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1931 Lincoln Model K Custom Berline

The top-drawer Lincoln Model K has a custom body by the Judkins coachworks
The top-drawer Lincoln Model K has a custom body by the Judkins coachworks

When most of the country was singing “Brother, can you spare a dime” in the depths of the Depression, Lincoln was finding few customers for its grand luxury cars. Model year 1931 would be the pits for Lincoln sales, with only about 3,000 cars sold.

Fewer still were the coachbuilt cars, such as the Pick of the Day, a 1931 Lincoln Model L Custom Berline with a body by Judkins, one of the largest U.S. custom-body builders of the classic era. These were the majestic cars piloted by celebrities and captains of industry, or their chauffeurs, still riding high in the age of soup lines. Continue reading