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The story of Preston Tucker and his ill-fated car of the future was made famous by the 1988 Francis Ford Copolla film, Tucker, the Man and His Dream. The movie chronicled the venture to start a new car company in 1948 with a model that was well ahead in safety, design and engineering of what the mainstream auto manufacturers were producing. Some say that Tucker was nothing but a con artist and his company was just a sham to bilk investors. Others maintain that he was a genuine threat to GM and Ford and they used their influence with suppliers and the government to have his operation shut down. All in all, only fifty one total Tuckers were built.
Up until the movie's release, Tuckers were looked at as automotive oddities and, despite their rarity, traded in the $10-20,000 range. The film received great publicity and became very popular. As a result, Tucker values climbed steadily over the next couple years, finally eclipsing the $100,000 mark. Appreciation and desirability by collectors grew to the point where a Tucker finally reached the magical million dollar sales figure just about two years ago. A couple more sales in that range over the past two years validated their new value.
OK, I'm addicted to watching the collector car auctions. Last night, I was watching one on television while streaming another one live on my laptop. I am definitely addicted to this strange genre of automotive reality television.
One of the things that attract me to these events are the unique and sometimes odd vehicles that periodically cross the block. People who know me will testify that I have had my fair share of interesting automobiles but I am still amazed at some of the stuff that shows up in Scottsdale. What's even more amazing is what people will pay for these oddities. For example a BMW Isetta, a 300cc powered, three-wheeled tin can with a front mounted refrigerator door, sold for nearly $50,000! That amount will buy you some pretty nice real estate in Akron these days.
Yes, it's January and that means the 2012 auction season officially begins with a bevy of auctions this week in Arizona. The most famous or, for some collectors, infamous of the auctions is the Barrett-Jackson auction, which can also be viewed on the Speed channel. Amazing as it may seem, a total of six auctions will be held! In addition to the Barrett-Jackson sale, auctions will be held by Gooding & Company, RM Auctions, Russo & Steele, Silver Auctions and newcomer this year, Bonhams. It's estimated that approximately 2,100 vehicles will be offered by the six companies. Looking through the lists of vehicles offered for sale, it's safe to say that there is truly something for everyone. Five of the auctions will be held in Scottsdale. One company will hold its auction elsewhere Silver Auctions is held in Fort McDowell. Most of the high dollar cars will appear at the RM, Gooding and Bonham's sale, although several big Classics will be sold by Barrett-Jackson this year. If you can't make it Arizona (or, if you go to Arizona and have some money left over) you can attend the Classic Motorcar auction on Saturday, March 31 at the John S. Knight Center in Akron.
I just received a notice announcing that Classic Motorcar Auctions will be returning to the John S. Knight Center on March 31 for another collector car auction. With the big auctions coming up in Scottsdale this week, it's great that we'll have a taste of that right here in town. CMA always has a wonderful variety of offerings at their auctions and the downtown Akron event always has cars for every taste and budget. Overall, it will be a great way to spend a March day and, hopefully, find your new cruiser the nice weather just around the corner!
Consignments seem to be coming in nicely. Go to www.classicmotorcarauctions.com to see the inventory thus far. The '57 Lincoln Premier has gotten my attention with those giant, lemon yellow tailfins. Which car will you be bidding on?
The North American International Auto Show, held annually in Detroit in early January, has become the premier event in the world for debut of new cars from American manufacturers and U.S. market cars from foreign builders. With the sluggish economy over the past several years, excitement was down, but last year showed a bit of a resurgence. With record sales in 2011, everyone was back in full force for the 2012 event, which was loaded with experimental concepts and new model introductions.
Of the American manufacturers, Cadillac struck a cord with their new ATS sedan, which is targeted directly at the BMW 3 series and the Audi A4. The new Dodge Dart was announced to fill the compact car spot vacated by the unloved Calibre. Calling upon Chrysler's affiliation with Fiat, the Dart is based on an Alfa Romeo designed platform. The American car which really stole the show was, believe it or not, the new Ford Fusion. Based on a European Ford designed chassis, the body design is truly forward thinking and exciting. Adding to the excitement is the fact that it will be available with the choice of five engines, two of which are turbocharged plus a traditional hybrid and a plug in hybrid. Ford is confident that it will be the most efficient car in its segment by a wide margin.
Overall, 2011 was a good year for the auto industry. Ford had huge profits, Volkswagen opened a billion dollar plant in Tennessee and the government got paid back some of the money it put out to save GM and Chrysler. Lots of good news all around but that doesn't mean everything was rosie.
Fiat's great return to the US market with widely heralded 500 was generally regarded as a flop. Americans didn't take to it like they did to the Mini, which was the 500's target. Fiat had an initial sales target of 50,000 units in 2011. As of the end of November, barely 20,000 had been sold.