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The Buicks of Barrett-Jackson's 2007 Scottsdale Auction


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Wow, does this make a statement about where the collector car market has headed? I found it interesting to see that almost all of the Buicks (24 of them) to be offered at B-J's January auction are either customs or muscle cars. Apart from a '50 Estate Wagon, '54 Skylark, '54 Century, '56 Roadmaster, and a very few others, there is precious little among the pre-muscle era Buicks that has not been significantly customized. It seems increasingly evident to me that those seeking fine original or carefully-restored vintage Buicks should be seeking them in places like the Buick Bugle classifieds section, and emphatically NOT at the big name auctions.

Here's a sampling:

1950 Special Sedanette

1950 Sedanette

1949 Roadmaster Sedanette

1949 Sedanette

1948 Roadmaster Sedanette

1948 Sedanette

1948 Special Sedanette

1948 Sedanette

1930 Sedan

1930 Sedan

1955 Century 2-door Riviera

1955 Century

You get the picture. Some of these are quite interesting and beautifully done, but you can get the flavor for the offering.

In contrast, I find this stock '54 Century more appealing than the cars linked above.

1954 Century

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That's a bit disappointing...I was beginning to think of working through my decades of Buicks by adding a 40s sedanette...it would be a shame if they were all customized before I was ready to buy one.

There's always nice stuff, but the bidding will get too high and I'm not really in the market right now anyway. That '50 Super Wagon would be nice too.

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The B-J auction has become more about the show, it seems, than finding "correct" vehicles. Nothing wrong with that, per se, except those are not the particular vehicles that many of us might desire (due to over-restoration and possible "enhancements"). By observation, unless it's a musclecar (or similar that HAS to be 125% correct in all areas), "original" and "unmolested" stock vehicles will probably not "show" well under the lights, by comparison. I highly suspect that any vehicle that makes it to the auction block at B-J Scottsdale will be fully restored and primped and massaged to be all that it can be--totally correct and authentic or not.

Naturally, the well-heeled bidders that would bid on these cars expect a great investment for their money . . . which can greatly influence the prices being paid. Once the CD and other financial markets start having higher returns, you'll probably see a shift in the premium auction vehicle market to more realistic pricing (as it's done before). There will typically always be enough baby boomers that now have money in their "heading toward retirement years" to buy a well-done vehicle, even if it's more like they would have "changed" it to rather than a completely stock vehicle. Knowing that each vehicle at B-J Scottsdale has been checked and verified to be what it is supposed to be can be worth part of the price, too.

And, it keeps some beautiful Buicks on the roads for others to enjoy and droooollll over. As it came from B-J Scottsdale is icing on the cake, from the perspective of many . . . but not, perhaps, of everybody. It would be like buying a "show car" already done and ready to go, rather than making the effort to do it yourself.

The '55 Century Riviera looks pretty neat. Nothing mentioned has terribly hurt it or can't be undone, from the description listed, but could make it more useable for many buyers that want a nice car to drive and enjoy on, say, the Hot Rod PowerTour or similar.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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I have watched B-J over and over on Speed, and have friends that have put cars together repeatedly over the years and there is definitely a trend toward "modernizing" as opposed to necessarily "customizing" these vintage pieces. The upgrading of brakes, fuel injection over carburation, plus modern conveniences are seen everywhere. Whereas it naturally hurt the marketability or value of the car 10-20 years ago, or even in some cases, 5 years ago, it appears the market has now fully accepted, if not embraced, "modernized" cars. As the commentators kept talking to the subject last year, people want to enjoy these cars, but want the reliability and advantages of the improved technology and safety now available.

On the other hand, full blown customizing is similarly on an upswing. However, if you watch the transfers, more times than not, even when a piece goes for $100,000 or more on the block, the commentators speak to "what a great deal for the buyer" or "he couldn't have built that car for twice that money". So, while the market for customized cars slips into the mainstream, it's not (yet) a niche that is returning the investment like a fully restored or survivor car can and will typically bring.

Unless there is a dramatic overall shift in the inventory, I would suspect that Kruse, B-J, and others this winter will still have an appropriately diversified selection of pieces to roll onto the block, from customized, modernized, survivor, various grades of restored, and then those that are sold purely based on historical value, such as racing history and/or documentation. In short, something for everyone.

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Brian,

Regarding the 49 Sedanette - there is noway to know if that did notstart as a Super, or they misquoted the motor size. If it's customized - especially by removal of the portholes - then there is no way to know what it started as and they can call it anything after it is customized. They could call it a 49 Buick Super Century.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Nice post Brian !

The 1956 Roadmaster is actually a 55, or at least the picture is, 'cause I'm not shure its the car in the top picture thats up for sale, as that is a picture of Leno's Roadmaster !!

A18453.jpg </div></div>

The innards are '56, though, and I agree that is Leno's Roadmonster!

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As it was pointed out years ago, and which I tend to concur with . . . if a vehicle is not stock (or reasonably so) or has been customized, the ultimate value will be determined when somebody tries to purchase it--not from a price guide. It takes on the personna of a "used car" for which there can be some general pricing orientations, but "no two are alike" or "no two are 'the same'", which can make the real market price what somebody will pay. If it lights somebody's fire and they have money, all the much better. In other words, you can spend $100K on building a car that's only (really) worth $40K.

By the same token, we've all seen people who took a cheap car, spent lots of money on it (engine, trans, suspension mods/upgrades) and it did not appreciably increase the real market value of the vehicle (AND possible loan value!!) over what a normal vehicle like it would have been. Same principle if it's a custom or a correctly-restored vehicle.

Not all vehicle "builds" will be cost effective to do, but hopefully many are.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Centurion, love the screen name.

I've only found one Centurion on the Barrett-Jackson website but don't know if there's a way to search their entire history. Are Centurion's so rare? I've seen some '70s-era Cadillacs and such go across the block but the muscle cruisers (as I like to call them) certainly seem underrepresented. What do you know about their reputation among classic car traders?

Thanks!

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SledZeppelin, thanks for your inquiry. The Centurions have been largely "under the radar" in the collector car hobby, but I continue to see signs of growing interest in GM's large car offerings from the 1971 - 1976 era. The Centurion was, in my view, among the best full-size packages of the era. The cars were cleanly-styled, and, because they were offered only from 1971 to 1973, avoided many of the mid-'70's styling cliches, such as padded landau roofs, opera windows, pillowy velour interiors, etc.

Are they rare? Not really. Since the Centurion convertibles were among the last big Buick convertibles, they were saved in significant numbers. Some of the closed models are actually more difficult to find.

If you're interested in Centurions, be sure to check out the Centurion registry and discussion forum created by Smartin, one of our members here. These websites are excellent sources of Centurion history and information.

http://www.buickcenturion.com/

http://www.buickcenturion.com/forums/

Edit note: Looks like you might already be registered on the Centurion forum under a different user name?

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The Centurions were sweet, large cars with a clean design coupling restrained elegance and masculine power. My Great-uncle Yalmer had a '71 navy blue coupe w/black top that he kept until his death in 2002. Living in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, by that time the salt had ravaged it, but not beyond repair. I still remember how I enjoyed just looking at it, and washed and waxed every time he'd visit. If I ever find one that's right (for me), I'll get it. Brian, your car is gorgeous! Compared to the "Bordello by Buick" design trend of just a few years later, it's no wonder their star is on the rise. Exit scene; "<span style="font-style: italic">Walton's Mountain</span>", "<span style="font-weight: bold">Cut!</span>"

I'm glad to there are so many of you bending over backward to be the first in line to pontificate on the <span style="font-style: italic">Great American</span> <span style="font-weight: bold">B-J Spectacle</span> that just took place (kudos, Brian for your fine reportage), and your opinions are your own. But at a time in this (what used to be called) "hobby", when we're desperately trying to come up with ways to involve young folks in an affordable way, this insane "Assume the Position" mentality has got to change. And if any of you want to get reamed as some friends of mine have at these "<span style="font-weight: bold">Auction</span> <span style="font-style: italic">as Public Lynching Parties</span>", if you think <span style="font-style: italic">for one moment</span> that this has <span style="font-weight: bold">any</span> benefit, I've got a bridge to sell ya,

and some K.Y. jelly to give ya. Gotta hurry tho', the <span style="font-style: italic">Chariot Scene</span> in "<span style="font-weight: bold">Ben Hur</span>" will be on any minute.

Value, <span style="font-style: italic">Trends</span>, <span style="font-weight: bold">Return on Investment</span>, what is this, a freakin' "Tea Party"? Breaktime at the <span style="font-style: italic">Bean-Counter's Ball?</span> When's the rolling cart with finger sandwiches going to arrive? "After <span style="font-style: italic">you</span>." "Oh no, I <span style="font-style: italic">insist</span>, after <span style="font-weight: bold">you</span>." I'm starving alright, but it's for rational thought, not sliced cucumbers on tri-corn white bread, shared with gossippy old Pea Hens! I <span style="font-style: italic">did</span> do something that fed my soul, though; I stayed away from <span style="font-weight: bold">The Spectacle</span> completely. Between cleaning the cat box, rearranging my sock drawer, and adjusting the rabbit ears, I just couldn't find the time!

Besides, if I'm watching something that makes my blood boil, or the bile rise up <span style="font-style: italic">quicker than</span> Paris Hilton's <span style="font-weight: bold">Party Frock</span>, I have the power to change it...and so do you. It's right there in your hand (or in the Barcalouger's cupholder), next to your adult beverage. They call it a <span style="font-weight: bold">Remote</span>. You're sitting on the

<span style="font-style: italic">Other Great Power</span>, your wallet, and the two fit hand-in-glove.

Some things in life (guilty pleasures, too) are inevitable...For example, I <span style="font-style: italic">know</span> they're going to, "<span style="font-weight: bold">Sink the Bismarck</span>", so does that mean I have to watch it <span style="font-style: italic">every</span> time it airs? The sponsors will get it eventually, if we just tuned out. Let the wolves have their slaughter, with overgrown boy/sheep gesticulating wildly, frothing at the mouth, letters of credit flying thru the air like hats on Graduation Day at West Point.

Here's an alternative, my favorite thing on TV...<span style="font-weight: bold">The DeSoto Channel</span>. It never changes, it's always the same; "<span style="font-style: italic">"Tomorrow's Test Pattern Today"</span>, and tomorrow, and the day after that. And if I get tired of watching the same old thing, day in, day out, I just mash a button, <span style="font-style: italic">et voila</span>, I'm now watching <span style="font-weight: bold">The Packard Channel</span>. They have <span style="font-style: italic">Color</span>, 'cause they have better sponsors. And every now and then, when the atmospheric conditions & planetary parameters are just right, you can pick up, "<span style="font-weight: bold">Milton Berle's Buick Show</span>."

You <span style="font-style: italic">really</span> should tune in, the bar's always open, and there's a whole crowd waiting for you,

with <span style="font-style: italic">nary a</span> <span style="font-weight: bold">wolf</span> <span style="font-style: italic">in sight</span>. And the cars? Just the way you like 'em, only the price of admission

<span style="font-style: italic">does</span> <span style="font-weight: bold">not</span> include selling your soul to highest bidder.

TG

435461-57BuickStonehenge2.jpg

Guilty of Pontification

by Association <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

post-43799-143137915775_thumb.jpg

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OK Buick People: How's this for documentation....It was brand new at one time, it was owned by people from earth who drove it. I for one couldn't care less about documentation. When it comes to cars I care about the following things

It's what I really want.

Price.

Do I have the money?

It's funny how it can work. A GTO is a Lemans without that big engine (so is a Lemans so bad?)and a Vette is still a Vette even if it has a 6-cylinder. I say, Forget about that documentation hocus pocus and follow the exact advice given to the Riviera owner in the current thread about painting his car another color. Mitch

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B-J auction: a bunch of west coast baby boomers who have fallen into too much money trying to buy back their youth by bidding up some of the most marginally built cars in American history, that happen to have tremendous powertrains. They also worship false idols: ANYTHING with a chromed-up small block Chevy and bumpers painted body color is worth more than the same car restored to an AACA first.

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<span style="font-weight: bold">Yes</span>, you are <span style="font-style: italic">correct</span>, sir!...Just left out that one

<span style="font-style: italic">other</span> prerequisite for surefire selling success.

The <span style="font-style: italic">de rigeur</span> "<span style="font-weight: bold">Mustang II</span> <span style="font-style: italic">Front-end</span>!"

TG

435461-57BuickStonehenge2.jpg

Some Assembly Required.

post-43799-143137915779_thumb.jpg

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mrpushbutton,

As usual your summary is spot on. It will bust some day (the muscle car craze) especially if some of these cars come back across again and again. It kind of reminds me of real estate. BJ does not care if the car comes over again and again at ever increasing prices, they get the commission coming and going either way, just like selling a house over and over again. Most of us on this forum hope for "the bust" so we can gloat at investor losses.

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So I'm wondering when the muscle cruisers, the big comfy muscle cars like late '60s & early '70s Buicks, Cadi's, Pontiacs, and some Chevy's, will become the new rage in classic car trading. Who doesn't love a huge, fast Bonneville, Centurion, or Catalina convertible?

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Who doesn't love a huge, fast Bonneville, Centurion, or Catalina convertible? </div></div>

Sorry Dude,

Pretty much anybody with the dough to buy anything with a HEMI.

<img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

Mike </div></div>

Yeah, but it takes $600,000 to buy a four door '66 Coronet. I have trouble believing that can be worth more than a '70 Wildcat with a 455. I guess in comparison for pricing, I have a '66 - a Wildcat 2 door hardtop. So far, I'm about $30,000 in (I've done virtually nothing myself - I've paid for skilled labour) and price guides say it is worth perhaps half that. With a new interior, I guess it might command $20,000...it wouldn't be that much of a slouch compared to the Coronet and you'd look better driving it.

Personal opinion, of course....

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If only Grandma had kept her Coronet! I'd buy a round of Centurions & Bonnevilles for everyone!

So many I'd have to hand 'em out in (rust)buckets...

But <span style="font-weight: bold">noooo</span>, she just <span style="font-style: italic">had</span> to have

that new '72 Swinger!

TG

435461-57BuickStonehenge2.jpg

post-43799-143137915787_thumb.jpg

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It is what it is folks. The high prices on B/J are hard to believe and out of range for most of us but - it does make the value of our cars go up - custom/modified or not. Dont wish the trend bad luck - it will come back to haunt us. The last top quality 65 Riv. GS that I know of sold for 45K last year. That is an unheard of price - The trend is up original or otherwise. Their are buyers for nice cars ! Enjoy your car and when its time to move on - enjoy the value ! <img src="http://forums.aaca.org/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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  • 2 months later...

Absolutley ridiculous but the oldies are all in collectors hands and everything that could be restored has been, When all the buyers have bought there will be nothing but sellers. I may not drfop $30K to restore my '49 Roadmaster Sedanette but I won't do anything that can't be undone.

Check this out - a bit of wisdom perhaps... http://www.thestreet.com/funds/followmoney/10353243.html

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Historically, over the past 30 or so years that cars have become "investment instruments", when Certificate of Deposit rates are low or the stock market is going "sideways", investors look for other places to put their money to appreciate. In prior times, it was in the "next hot area" for land (or building on said land), but when the babyboomers with new-found wealth started looking around for investments that they might enjoy, "cars" popped up at a time when the cars of their youth were starting to become desireable.

Some people went out and bought some orginal cars from the original owners, cleaned them up, and put them through a Kruse (or similar) auction. Usually, they turned a profit with the "right" vehicle at the right auction. And the race was on . . . CD and interest rates were low, cars were appreciating at a much better investment pace.

This was when documentation and "numbers match" really started to get important, especially for "real cars" rather than "clones". Of course, muscle cars were important due to the earlier appeal and relative rarity. Factor in some speciality cars (i.e., Plymouth Superbirds, 426 HEMI V-8s, 440 6-bbl V-8s, GS455 Stage I, RamAir ___, Camaro Z-28, Boss 302 Mustangs) and things escalated even higher as the hobby responded with information on these new investment vehicles. This helped fuel the expanding restoration parts industry too. As the cars became more valuable, it was worth spending money on correct parts to make them right and worth more money later on--cost effective if you had the money to spend. AND that's when previously-hidden vehicles came out of hiding--the first time--and the craziness progressed.

What many people do not fully understand is that the cars you see at these "no reserve" B-J auctions are the absolute best out there--period. Nothing has been spared in making them saleable at such a high level auction event, so the cars are typically waaaayyyy nicer than any you'll see anywhere else. Plus, Mr. Jackson usually hand-picks the ones that make it to the auction itself. And, I suspect you can bet money on the fact these cars are a good bit over-restored.

The notoriety which the B-J auctions have gained has helped and hurt the car hobby. Helped in that it has put more of the general public in an awareness mode that cars are something other than for just transportation. Hurt in that many perceive THEIR cars are worth as much money as those at B-J, even if you factor them down a little . . . be that as it may, it also helps protect OUR investments too.

With so many aspects of our current economy tending toward "flaky", the correct vehicles are still good investments. Although there will be some up and down cycles (as with the stock market), the general trend will always be upward (probably a better "upward" than the stock market, too).

By observation, once these vehicles reach the "appreciation" stage of their lives and are maintained reasonably well or fully restored, it would take one huge financial situation to make them less valuable for those that can afford them. I also suspect if they might trend downward, it would be more gradual than common stocks.

Still, for the cars to be worth what they should be, it takes the agreement of the buyer and the seller on what the real value might be . . . with the price guides being just that, "a guide". We've seen the up and down cycles over the past 30 years, with respect to the "hot properties" of vehicles. Just as with stocks, when the owners sell and "profit take", that particular buyer might generally take the brunt of the down cycle (enjoying the vehicle if they can during that time) as they wait for the next upward cycle (which ALWAYS comes) when new buyers come into the market and generally pay more money so the second buyer can then do their own profit take. And the cycle repeats several times in the near and longer-term future, always trending upward. As always . . . "Buy low, sell HIGH" (while the values are still UP).

The other side of things is that our current economy apparently has many people with larger disposable incomes to spend on "toys" that can be enjoyed and shown-off and still appreciate with modest additional miles placed on them each year. These would be "new buyers" rather than existing buyers, I suspect.

If you want basic security, then a CD or savings account is a safe bet. But you can't (usually) take that money out for a joy ride in the spring of the year, increasing your quality of life in the process and still have a reasonably good investment. Just don't forget the "insurance policies"!

As was pointed out a few years ago, just buying the car at a B-J auction is the first part of expenses (after bidder fees to be able to bid). There's the commission the buyer pays (which matches the fee the seller pays to B-J to auction the vehicle). Then there are some ins-n-outs in getting the vehicle transported from the event (whether by truck or otherwise), which can include the various titling fees and such--which basically get your "new" vehicle on the way home to you. When you get it home, then you've got the local registration issues and taxes to deal with.

By observation, when monied people want the same thing, prices just go through the roof (as with the GM dream cars, for example, and the Olds in particular). When the competitive bidding dimenishes, so will the prices. Look at what the Scottsdale auction does compared to the ones in Florida and other places . . . not to mention the other regular vehicle auctions where "normal" quality (or lower quality "used cars" turn up . . . many "No Sales" and much lower prices, highly dependent upon who was buying what that particular day.

Lots of side issues . . .

Wouldn't you really rather have a Buick that came from the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction? You don't get that sort of bragging rights with a CD from a bank!

Enjoy it while it lasts!

NTX5467

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