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Auction Coverage Overflow: The Scottsdale Wrap-up!

Published in blog.hemmings.com

1966 Shelby G.T. 350H; all images by the author. It’s presale estimate was set at $150,000 – $200,000.

Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine print cycles have dictated that we bid farewell to the 2018 Scottsdale sales, until our return to the desert city in 2019, but the decision to do so has left some coverage from a few auctions sitting in our office. Rather than let it slip into the digital ether, we’ve opted to provide it here as exclusive content, beginning with a small sampling from the annual Bonhams sale, which was held at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa. The California-based firm sold 96 of the 108 lots featured in their catalog, for a total take that amounted to a little over $25.3 million. One of the many highlights was the car pictured above: a 1966 Shelby G.T. 350H. Not just any Hertz , but one that had been owned by Shelby. According to the catalog,

This iconic 1966 Shelby GT350 Hertz Rent-a-Racer left the factory in 1966 dressed in Wimbledon White with factory painted Le Mans stripes in Guardsman Blue. Prior to delivery, the car was sent to Hi-Performance Motors of Segundo, California, where a radio was installed. The Shelby was then shipped to City Motors of National City, California on January 19th, 1966, for final dealer prep before being delivered to Hertz of San Diego, California. The car was optioned with chrome Magnum wheels ($104.56), the radio ($45.45), and a brake booster ($39.58). With the options, the pre-delivery fee, and the freight charge, the totals invoice came to $3,865. On September 7th, 1967, the Hertz was purchased by its first owner, Fred Johnson. It was the cars second owner however, Mike Shoen of Vancouver, Washington, who would bring the GT350 to the next level by outfitting the car with a 65′ GT350 pod with tach and oil pressure gauge, R-Model apron, valve covers, radiator, roll bar, R-Model wheels, and a Berry Plastiglas rear spoiler.

Carroll Shelby must have been very impressed with the car as he would go on to purchase it from Mr. Shoen – the car has remained in the Shelby collection ever since. While under Carroll’s ownership, the car was featured in Petersen’s Complete Ford Book and was displayed at the Imperial Palace Automobile Collection in Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2008, the car was noted as no longer wearing the rear spoiler, and was put on display at Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it has lived until being brought to Bonhams for the sale. Shelby has primarily returned the car to its original specification, with the exception of the wheels.

Our examination of the former rental car uncovered several areas of wear, particularly the exterior trim. some of that trim, incidentally, exhibited visible tape lines that were produced during an undated repaint, which must have been some time ago judging by the crack in the finish by the decklid and several touch-ups throughout. The steering wheel was also cracked. Having been refurbished to some level, we gave it a condition grade of 3+, which equated to roughly $250,000 per value guides. Offered without reserve, spirited bidding landing the Shelby in the sold column after realizing $253,000.

1928 De Soto Special. Bonhams listed a presale estimate of $30,000 – $50,000.

Long before the legend of the Rent-A-Racer came to be, many American manufactures were chasing racing accolades during the Teens and Twenties, including De Soto. Both factory and privateer efforts provided companies the opportunity to both test and tout their mechanical durability and performance that hopefully translated to increasing sales at the dealership level. The placard attached to this purpose-built De Soto read,

The number of key components on this [1928 DeSoto Race car] can principally be counted on one hand. Up front sits an inline six Chrysler flathead engine. Introduced in 1926, this engine was a derivative of an earlier 4 cylinder design and was produced initially as a 3 liter and later a 2.8 liter. By 1928 power output was rated at 45 horsepower – more than enough for this little race car. Fuel is delivered via two Edmunds carburetors.

Beyond the powerful engine, the rest of the racer remains relatively simple. Solid axles front and rear suspended both by leaf springs are charged with the task on maintaining tire contact on the track surface, and with knobby tires in back, dirt ovals are where this DeSoto really shines. In the cockpit, the driver is given one pedal for gas, a wheel for steering, and a lever for the set of drum brakes on the rear axle. Power is directly driven out back without the need for a transmission or gears- this racer keeps everything very simple for its brave operator.

As with so many racing specials of the pre, and immediately post war period, a competition history is lost to time. This presents the new owner with an intriguing research project, as well as a ‘racing by the seat of one’s pants’ single-seater so typical of the period. The older restoration still holds up well today and all throughout components appear to be in proper condition.

That brief mention of its restoration was undated; however, it was clearly evident the De Soto had been exhibited at vintage race events on occasion since, given the kind of wear once could easily associate with hard driving: chips and touch-ups were somewhat spotty, there was a crack in the paint at the base of the plexiglass windshield, the tires were due to be replaced, the chrome exhaust pipes had been subjected to several prolonged heat cycles, and then there was the expected patina found on the seat and steering wheel. Overall we gave it a condition 3+ grade. Lack of known provenance probably didn’t help nudge more out of bidders; it realized $27,500, making this a bit of a race-ready bargain.

1989 Dodge Shelby Dakota. The potent pickup carried a presale estimate of $20,000 – $30,000.

A mid-size pickup is not typically something you would see in the performance car segment of our auction coverage, but we couldn’t pass by this Shelby-massaged Dakota without taking a closer look. We’ll let the catalog listing speak for itself, which stated,

Offered in 1989 only as a limited-production high performance variant of the Dodge Dakota Sport mid-size pickup, this was the first rear-wheel drive product to come out of Shelby workshop since partnering with Chrysler Corporation.

Like many Shelby products that had preceded the Dakota, the drivetrain received a plethora of upgrades. Gone was the 3.9L V6 of the more mundane pick-ups and instead a 5.2 liter overhead valve V-8 was shoe-horned under the hood. Due to the limited space available, the engine driven fan mounted on the front of the motor had to be removed in favor of electric fans, with a beneficial side effect of an added 5 horsepower. The total output was an impressive for the day 175 horsepower and 270 ft-lbs of torque, just about a 70% increase over the stock V-6. The pick up also received a limited slip differential, transmission cooler, 15-spoke hollow alloy wheels, and a slew of body mods including a unique air dam and bumpers. For what started life as a utility vehicle, a zero to sixty time of 8.5 seconds was an impressive figure for 1989, and only Dodge’s previous performance truck, the Li’l Red Express, offered this level of performance in such a rugged package.

One could order the truck in any color as long as it was either red or white, and production was extremely limited with only 1,500 of these Shelbys to roll out of the factory in its single year of production.

This Dakota received a thorough restoration courtesy of its previous owner, who specialized in refurbishing MOPARs. The current owner purchased the truck in August of 2012, and the vehicle has remained in excellent condition since. Both the exterior and interior present incredibly well, and this is just one of 995 examples finished in red.

At the sale, we spotted one bidder fondling many of its exterior attributes, as if testing the quality of the finish with their fingertips. For once, there was a conspicuous absence of a Shelby signature in the cabin or on the paint (yes, we’ve seen his signature on the roof of a Mustang), and the only hint of patina we spotted inside or out was on the steering wheel. We think the shocking aspect of the Dakota was that someone took the time to thoroughly restore the truck, probably at a cost that exceeded the $13,200 sale price it achieved. By way of comparison, guides stated that the Dodge – offered at no reserve – was valued at $20,000.

The other muscle car lots that crossed Bonhams auction block were as follows:

1961 Chevrolet Corvette – Selling price: $82,500

2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 GT1 – Selling price: $68,200

2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Coupe – Selling price: $ 88,000

1994 Dodge Viper RT/10 – Selling price: $40,700

2006 Dodge Viper SRT-10 – Selling price: $79,200

2006 Ford GT – Selling price: $489,500

2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – Selling price: $56,100

2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – Selling price: $51,700

The 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster, estimated to realize $100,000 – $120,000 when it crossed the block.

Let’s move on to Gooding & Company’s two-day sale, which was held at its traditional location just outside the friendly confines of the Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Santa Monica-based California company provided bidders a catalog of 129 vehicles, of which 110 sold for a cumulative total of $49,215,650. A even dozen cars sold for more than $1 million, including a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale that accounted for $8,085,000, making it the top seller of the event. Although Gooding is predominately known for their prowess in the Full Classic and European exotic market segments, they also cater to those who have a preference for brute American performance cars, such as the 1967 Chevy Corvette pictured above. According to portions of the catalog listing,

This [Corvette] is beautifully presented in Lynndale Blue with a White interior – the original color scheme, according to its trim tag… it was treated to a meticulous and documented restoration in the 1990s, and the overall quality and attention to detail earned the work the coveted Bloomington Gold Certification in 2000. This Corvette is fitted with its matching-numbers L79 engine and equipped with the highly desirable optional hardtop. Included are a set of wheels and Uniroyal Laredo tires stated by a previous owner to be original to this car.

If you’re unfamiliar with Chevy engine lingo, the L79 is code for a 327-cu.in. V-8 rated for 350 hp. Backing the sinister small-block was a four-speed manual, while disc brakes at all four wheels provided the stopping power. Key mechanical components aside, we took a few, slow, laps around the Chevy and walked away with a notepad devoid of demerit entries. In short, it remained a virtually perfect car inside and out. Comparing the presale estimate against the $166,000 value as stated by price guides, one might have been a little surprised to see that it sold at the low end of the estimate, having realized $101,750.

The presale estimate set upon this (Chevy) 427-powered 1970 Iso Grifo 7 Litre was $600,000 – $700,000.

Foot traffic around the 1970 Iso Grifo (pictured above) seemed to be non-stop during the preview hours, and for good reason: It was stunning. Okay; if you really felt the need to be critical, you could have pointed to a slightly tarnished rear bumper and hint of soft patina on the seat upholstery – perhaps even a hint of orange peel paint in a few spots. They were inconsequential demerits reserved for the uber-discerning bidders. As to the rest of the car’s story, portions of the catalog stated,

Company director Piero Rivolta decided to drop [a seven-liter Chevrolet V-8] into one of the Grifos. A preferred customer was persuaded to write a check for the proposed car, and Iso’s engineers set about modifying chassis 201 to accommodate the mammoth big-block engine.

The most distinctive visual change was the addition of a functional pagoda-style hood scoop, which fed air to a four-barrel carburetor. Featuring a special “7 Litri” badge on the rear pillars, the so-called Super Grifo was a smashing success at [the 1968] Geneva [Auto Show], prompting a rush of customer orders.

After about 35 examples were built, an optional longer-legged ZF five-speed gearbox with a 2.88 final-drive ratio was offered, requiring a modified clutch. With these changes the 7 Litri  finally began to achieve its performance potential, as test drivers reached speeds exceeding 170 mph. Only 17 of the first series 7 Litri Grifos were optioned with the five-speed gearbox and less than 70 examples were built through 1970.

According to the build date on the Iso Grifo registry, chassis 326 (Editor’s note: the car pictured) was finished on September 20, 1970, and was equipped with optional air-conditioning and Elektron wheels.

It went on to state that this example, one of the 17 to feature the ZF five-speed manual, had been subjected to sympathetic visual and mechanical restorations in the late Eighties and from 2007 – 2010, while a complete chain of ownership since new was provided. In the condition presented to bidders, nearly flawless, value guides suggest that similar examples sell for $450,000; just a wee bit under the presale estimate. When it crossed the block, however, the Grifo realized $572,000.

The other muscle car lots that crossed Gooding’s auction block were as follows:

1953 Allard J2X – Selling price: $286,000

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster – Selling price: $137,500

1963 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe – Selling price: $143,000

1968 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi – Selling price: $123,750

1948 Kurtis Kraft Midget Racer – Selling price: $35,200

1964 Pontiac GTO Convertible – Selling price: $55,000

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 – Selling price: $962,500

A $1,000,000 – $1,200,000 presale estimate for this historical 1965 Shelby G.T. 350-R hinted at its lofty reserve.

Also in Scottsdale was RM/Sotheby’s for their annual extravaganza held at the Arizona Biltmore. The two-dale auction featured a catalog of 19 “nostalgia” lots, all of which collectively sold for $395,040. Those sales precluded the offering of 129 automotive lots, of which 112 were hammered off to new owners for a take of $36,128,580. There were 11 lots that brought more than $1 million; top sale went to a 1954 Jaguar D-Type Works (race car) that realized $9,800,000. No less subtle visually, but more subtle in actual and perceived value, was lot number 254: the 1965 Shelby G.T. 350-R pictured above. As with nearly all Shelby-massaged Mustangs, this example was bolstered by ample documented history, as retold – in brief – by the auction house:

In 1965, Shelby American packed up a rotating cast of six cars – a Cobra Daytona coupe, a GT40, 289 and 427 Cobras, and a “stock” G.T. 350, and this G.T. 350-R [chassis 5R213] – and took them on a 12-city tour they called the Cobra Caravan. The price tag of $6,000 was about $1,300 more than a standard G.T. 350, and double that of a regular 289 fastback with a four-speed. The Shelby-built 289-cu.in. v-8 made a rumored 350 hp, yielding an amazing power-to-weight ratio in the lightened 2,550-lb. car. A long list of competition parts was highlighted by the unique deep front fiberglass air scoop, fully race-ready interior, oversize wheel openings, Plexiglas side windows, 34-gallon gas tank, headers, competition exhaust, 15×7-inch American Racing Torq-Thrust wheels, and riveted aluminum rear louvers. A modern test yielded a 5.5-second 0-60 [mph] time and 13.6 seconds at 104.4 mph in the quarter-mile.

After the Caravan, on 28 June 1966, 5R213 became part of a package of five similar cars – out of the 36 factory-produced G.T. 350 competition Mustangs – to go to Peru. Its only well-documented appearance is in the first running of the Caminos del Inca (Inca rally) in 1966 with owner Julio Martinetti and co-driver Victor “Coco” Cardenas, where it finished in 6th place with a time of 28 hours, 5 minutes, and 22 seconds after 3,000 kilometers of brutal South American roads.

The catalog went on further, indicating that the Shelby was likely raced well into the Seventies in Lima before it was purchased in largely original condition, but in need of a restoration, in 1984 and returned to the US and subsequently restored. over the last three years, the vintage racer was given yet another comprehensive restoration. During the preview hours, it drew ample attention and, having seen nothing worthy of notes, we gave it a condition 1- grade. Value guides  rarely – if ever – provide pricing data for such cars, so in this case the presale estimate can be viewed as a good indicator as to where the reserve was set. Bidding, however, stalled at $850,000, and the Shelby went unsold.

This 1973 De Tomaso Pantera L by Ghia featured low miles and a presale estimate of $110,000 – $140,000.

It’s probably fair to say even casual enthusiasts may be aware of the collaborative effort between Alejandro de Tomaso and Ford Motor Company that resulted in the Blue Oval powered De Tomaso Pantera, which was available through your local Ford dealer beginning in 1971. By 1973, Road Test magazine had named it their Import Car of the Year, and when the last had finally found its way to our shores in 1975, over 5,000 examples had been distributed within the States. RM’s catalog stated,

Offered here is [one of the Panteras], beautifully finished in Pantera Orange. As a post-1972 model, the Pantera L is equipped with the black nose guard – fitted to conform to the stricter federal bumper standards of 1974. In order to conform to the new emission standards, a new Ford 351 “four-bolt main” Cleveland engine was fitted, along with a new factory exhaust header. Other engine changes guaranteed a more reliable vehicle.

This Pantera has been found to be largely original, with an original interior, tires, and suspension. Recent work totaling $17,000, including fitting a new gas tank, water pump, carburetors, and brake master cylinder, ensured that the Pantera is running perfectly. With a top speed of 160 mph, the only difficulty will be finding a place to top it out.

When it was consigned to the sale, the Ghia-styled Pantera’s mileage was reported to be “18,700 from new.” There was no mention as to whether or not the body wore its factory paint, or a newer coat; however, it was relatively easy to spot the well-kept yet somewhat aged trim. Unlike some other cars we’ve examined over the years, clearly there had been a great effort to maintain this Italian import – we gave it a condition rating of 2, which equated to roughly $108,000 per value guides. Bidding was spirited, and the De Tomaso realized $109,200.

The other muscle car lots that crossed RM/Sotheby’s auction block were as follows:

1978 Chevrolet Corvette – Selling price: $24,640

1932 Ford Roadster (modified) – Selling price: $28,000

2005 Ford GT – Selling price: $302,000

1965 Shelby Cobra 289 – Selling price: $995,000

1966 Shelby Cobra 427 – Selling price: $2,947,500

1968 Shelby G.T. 500 – Selling price: $95,200

On deck is continuing auction coverage from the five Amelia Island, Florida, sales, as well as a series of more recent summer sales we’ve recently, or will be, attending.