Auctions America by RM Ft. Lauderdale 2013 – Auction Report

Auctions America by RM, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, March 22-24, 2013

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

Late on Sunday, while wrapping up a few final cars for Sports Car Digest, a young couple approached me. The male half asked, ‘Could you tell me a little about how the auction works?’

We talked for ten or fifteen minutes about collector car auction basics: reserves, bidding and most importantly the terms. Even when it was explained that the cars were sold ‘as is, where is, with all faults’ they were undeterred and realistic.

They parted with ‘We’ll be back next year and bring money.’

Think of this experience the next time someone bemoans the ageing car collector class. At least one solution seems to be ‘build it and they will come.’

The diversity and attractiveness of the cars offered is an important attraction of Auctions America’s auction in Ft. Lauderdale, and its sales in Carlisle, Auburn and now Burbank. From 1924 to 2012, Acadian to Zimmer, $1,980 to $880,000, the Broward County Convention Center literally had something for everyone, including the couple that came to check it out on Sunday.

Experienced auction hands consistently commented on the overall quality of the cars offered by Auctions America in Ft. Lauderdale this year, a subjective but important consideration that kept them in their seats and bidding throughout the three day sale. The $17.5 million sale total is the third highest in the sale’s seven-year history; the sale rate is Ft. Lauderdale’s fourth highest.

Auctions America by RM Fort Lauderdale
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
520 / 374
$32,725 [69.9%]
566 / 387
$33,000 [75.7%]
488 / 340
$39,050 [77.2%]
466 / 368
$35,200 [79.4%]

The general public loves auctions – just look at the scads of auction-related ‘reality’ shows on cable. Making collector car auctions accessible and entertaining, with a wide variety of cars – like Auctions America’s Ft. Lauderdale sale – is just what is needed to draw in new generations of collectors, even those without the mechanical skills and tinkering experience that older collectors have.

It’s a different pathway into collecting and one that deserves more experimentation to find ways to make collector car auctions, and therefore car collecting, more attractive to younger would-be collectors.

Auctions America by RM Fort Lauderdale 2013 – Auction Report

1959 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Lot # 156 1959 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible; S/N J59S104501; Engine # IMS; Black, Black hardtop/Black; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $53,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $58,300. – 283/270hp, 4-speed, dog dish hubcaps, blackwall tires, aftermarket AM-FM, hardtop only – Good paint, interior and most chrome except for bubbling left doorpost trim. Chassis and underbody are aged and used but clean. Has a great look in triple black, but the engine block stamping, IMS, is meaningless. – This is a sound and attractive Corvette with a desirable induction system on the 283 cubic inch block described on the car card. There’s no way to verify the engine’s actual specification, however, beyond counting the carburetors and listening for the Duntov cam’s lope when it runs. The price it brought is more than adequate for the uncertainty but also the neat presentation.

951 Ford Custom Deluxe Station Wagon

Lot # 163 1951 Ford Custom Deluxe Station Wagon; S/N B1KC146932; Dark Green/Maroon, Beige leatherette; Cosmetic restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $61,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $67,100. – 3-speed, pushbutton radio, heater, clock, 3-row seating, hubcaps, trim rings, whitewalls, rear-mounted spare – A fresh cosmetic restoration with excellent paint, chrome, wood and interior. Unfortunately they stopped with that and a little engine compartment cleanup. The underbody is untouched except for some paint over the old undercoat. One of the best looking of the Friday cars, until you look under it – This Country Squire makes a great first impression, but one that is quickly let down by the cosmetic re-do. Still, it will be a fun weekend driver and most onlookers won’t peer under the fenders. My older son once criticized me, ‘Dad, you’ve ruined me. I can’t go to a car show any more without looking under the cars and sighting down the body sides for ripples, waves and blisters.’ This Country Squire does more than fine with the latter, but falls short on the former. The new owner can add material value by giving it some much needed attention where the sun doesn’t shine, attention that may, if it is conscientiously and consistently applied, add significant value. In its present condition it is worth what it brought today.

1966 Ford Ranchero Custom

Lot # 164 1966 Ford Ranchero Custom; S/N 6K29T195711; Red/White; Modified restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $19,750 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $21,725. – 351/490hp, 4-speed, Torq Thrust wheels, bench seat, 4-wheel disc brakes, P/S – Thoroughly and completely done to high standards of fit and finish. – This poor truck has been looking for a home for a while. It was offered here a year ago but attracted a high bid of only $18,000. Today’s result is much more appropriate for the quality of the workmanship that went into it and is even something of a bargain for a new owner who wants a tire-smoking little pickup.

1979 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe

Lot # 173 1979 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe; S/N 2W87K9N130528; Black, Gold accent/Black; Unrestored original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $38,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $41,800. – Automatic, gold honeycomb wheels, Uniroyal tires, P/S, P/B, P/W, glass t-tops, AM-FM, A/C, shaker hood, power antenna – 4,796 miles from new and like new throughout including the original tires. Excellent paint and interior. Documented with broadcast sheet, window sticker, manual, maintenance folios, all manuals, spare tire paper, and delivery paper. – Don’t drive on these tires. In fact, don’t drive this Trans Am very much as every hundred miles or so will eat at its value but it should be good for a couple hundred miles a year without seriously affecting value. Think five years out when it might have 5,796 miles. That’s only a slight qualitative difference (as long as the original tires a wheels are put up for safekeeping and fresh wheels and tires are mounted for infrequent excursions.

1955 Ford Thunderbird Convertible

Lot # 175 1955 Ford Thunderbird Convertible; S/N P5FH132233; Red/Black, white vinyl; Black vinyl top; Older restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $28,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $30,800. – 292/193hp, automatic, P/S, P/W, power seat, engine dressup, pushbutton radio, wire wheel covers, narrow whitewalls – A used old restoration that never was very good. Rust pushing through left windshield dogleg, grungy instruments and pitted interior chrome. Oily, dirty engine. Generally superficially done and erratically maintained. – The seller should be extremely happy with this result, particularly when the buyers had so many choices of better cars in Ft. Lauderdale. The problem here is that this car is unlikely to harbor any good surprises, if the rusty windshield post is any indication. Caveat emptor, even at this price.

1965 Ford Mustang Notchback

Lot # 179 1965 Ford Mustang Notchback; S/N 5F07K616972; Black/Saddle vinyl; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $34,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $37,400. – 289/271hp K-code, 4-speed, Rally-Pac gauges, pushbutton radio, woodrim steering wheel, Magnum wheels, blackwall tires, no P/S or P/B – Good paint, chrome and interior. An older restoration to nearly like new condition with some subsequent miles but still attractive and eminently usable as is. – Offered here a year ago with a high bid exactly the same as the selling bid today. While the notchback is not as desirable as the fastback ‘Sportsroof’ in this case the K-code engine and 4-speed is worth even more and the buyer got a very enjoyable and rare Mustang for an appropriate price.

1966 Ford Mustang Convertible

Lot # 189 1966 Ford Mustang Convertible; S/N 6T08T277893; White/Black, White vinyl; Black vinyl top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $13,750 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $15,125. – 200/120hp six, automatic, Pony interior, buckets and console, wire wheel covers, Tiger Paw GTS tires, pushbutton radio – Thick old repaint now starting to crack at stress points. Good interior and chrome. Old undercoat on underbody. An orderly and fun economy convertible. – An A-code 289 V-8 would be twice this price or more, but would the Mustang be any more fun? The attractive aspect of buying a sound but cheap Mustang convertible like this is that even if the collector car market implodes, and with a bottom of the market car like this that is a very unlikely occurrence, a 20% value drop is only $3,000. The risk/reward relationship is very much in the new owner’s favor and this is a good buy.

1965 Pontiac LeMans GTO

Lot # 190 1965 Pontiac LeMans GTO 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 237375K117744; Engine # 281569YS; Iris Mist/Pearl leatherette; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $29,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $32,450. – 389/335 with Tri-Power added, automatic, P/S, P/B, A/C, woodrim steering wheel, AutoMeter underdash gauges and steering column tach, buckets and console, Rally wheels with trim rings, red line tires – Decent repaint in the rare original color. Good chrome and interior. Engine compartment is orderly but shows age and use. PHS documented, original manuals and Protect-o-Plate. Underbody looks like a two-year old car. The paint color (Iris Mist) is rare and, while a little fey, unusual enough to attract positive attention. – I have no idea why this GTO was so cheap. Did I miss something? The car card says only that it is ‘PHS documented’ and it may be a ‘PHS documented’ LeMans with GTO stuff. If it is what it claims to be it is a most advantageous purchase and a huge value.

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible

Lot # 194 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible; S/N VC57J220940; Engine # 1M0823 5VP; Black/Red, Silver vinyl; Black vinyl top; Modified restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $61,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $67,100. – 350 V-8, 4-barrel, aftermarket A/C, P/S, P/B, alternator, automatic, spinner wheel covers, P225/75R14 Coker radial whitewalls, skirts – Professionally and thoroughly done with good cosmetics and orderly engine swap and A/C installation. Underbody, however, is badly neglected. – Sold at Worldwide in Houston last May for $61,600 and in comparable condition today to what it was then with just 141 more miles on the odometer. Re-engined, it will never be worth as much as an original-spec ’57, but will run and drive better. For someone who just wants a pretty ’57 Bel Air convertible to cruise on weekends – even in the summer with the A/C cranked up – this is a sound value.

1961 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible

Lot # 198 1961 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible; S/N 10867S100815; Engine # 100815 F0920CT; White, White hardtop/Red; White vinyl top; Older restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $48,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $52,800. – 283/245hp dual quads with hydraulic lifters, 4-speed, cassette stereo, two tops, spinner wheel covers, whitewall tires – Fair older repaint with noticeable flaws on the hardtop. Pitted windshield chrome. Dirty underbody. Engine shows use. A sound older restoration with more than a few miles on it. Described as ‘the correct drivetrain’ and the block is appropriately stamped. – Sold by RM at the Charlie Thomas Collection sale in Texas last October for $48,400, about as close to its hammer bid today as it is possible to be. Two sales at essentially the same price pretty clearly define collectors’ opinion of value.


  1. Anonymous says

    I am always fascinated by Rick Carey`s pithy comments. For some time I was a judge at the Sydney Mercedes Owners Club and wish I had have been game enough to make judgements as telling as his. But the cars were not for sale and only competing in a Concourse Event.
    Please keep it up.
    Regards Les Rogers.

    • Rick Carey says

      Thanks for the kind words, Les.
      People often come up to me and say something like, ‘You seem to know a lot about [fill-in-the-blank]s.’
      My standard response is, ‘I know just enough to be dangerous’, which is true.
      I admire you judges who know intricate details of construction and the evolution of marques’ histories. Going from Rolls-Royces to Pontiac GTOs to MG As (not to mention Fiat Dinos and Delahayes) I wish I could do the same, but this old brain is not up to retaining all that minutia.


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