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Mecum’s Chicago sale offered more bargains than blue-chips

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This 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis went to a new home for $6,000. Photos courtesy Mecum Auctions.

Once upon a time, buyers attended automotive auctions to shop for (or gawk at) the rare, the expensive and the otherwise unattainable. While such automobiles can still be found at nearly every brand-name auction, more events are adding inventory that appeals to the entry-level buyer, too. Mecum’s Chicago sale, held on October 6-8, was a good case in point, serving up everything from six-figure collectibles to a surprising array of affordable hobby cars.

1982 Honda Civic sedan

1982 Honda Civic sedan.

Take, for example, a 1982 Honda Civic sedan, showing a reported-actual 44,000 miles on the odometer and sold in unrestored condition for just $2,500. Appearing rust-free in the supplied photographs, with a surprisingly immaculate interior, the Honda is the type of “disposable car” that’s easy to overlook, until one realizes that the price of Japanese cars from this era is going nowhere but up. The “why” part is easy enough to explain, too: most were worked to death, handed down through families until the curves of increasing mileage and decreasing maintenance intersected at a point of failure.  Survivors are rare, and for a generation used to seeing such cars in the driveway, they’re desirable as collector cars, too.

1973 Pontiac Catalina Safari

1973 Pontiac Catalina Safari.

Fans of big American station wagons had a pair of lots in the $6,000-and-under price bracket to choose from. A 1973 Pontiac Catalina Safari station wagon, showing 88,821 miles on the odometer and owned by the same individual for the last 37 years, sold for $5,500 and appeared nice enough to be a local show winner. A 1967 Dodge Monaco station wagon boasted recent engine and suspension work (plus a new exhaust), and was said to be a rust-free California car. Perhaps a bit rougher around the edges than the later Pontiac, the Dodge was still a very nice example that went to a new home for $6,000.

1979 Fiat Sport Spider

1979 Fiat 2000 Spider.

Those looking for a summertime drop-top could choose from a 1979 Fiat 2000 Spider, showing a believed-actual 65,300 miles, which sold for $3,000; or a 1975 MG MGB, recently restored (but with the incorrect wheels and upholstery) and fitted with a new top, which sold for $4,750. Those wanting something a bit more regal from across the pond could have bid on a 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, with a non-functional gas gauge and less than 88,000 miles, which sold for $4,000.

1961 Ford Thunderbird

1961 Ford Thunderbird.

Other bargain American lots of interest included a 1978 Mercury Grand Marquis, which sold for $6,000; a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, which sold for $4,500; a 1962 Oldsmobile Super 88 Celebrity sedan, which sold for $4,250; and a 1931 Chevrolet Independence Series AE four-door sedan, which sold for $4,000.

1970 Boss 429 Mustang

1970 Boss 429 Mustang.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, lots in the top-10 included a restored 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 fastback, which sold for $245,000; a 1966 Shelby GT350H fastback, which sold for $137,500; a Bloomington Gold certified 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, which sold for $123,000; a 1988 Porsche 911 Turbo cabriolet, previously owned by Scottie Pippen, which sold for $100,000; a 2004 Rolls-Royce Phantom, which sold for $90,000; a 1956 Chevrolet Nomad restomod, which sold for $85,500; a 1957 Ford Thunderbird E-Code, which sold for $85,000; a 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T, which sold for $80,000; an unrestored 1968 Shelby GT500KR fastback, which sold for $77,000; and a 1968 Ford Mustang convertible Shelby Super Snake replica, which sold for $70,000.

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