With more than 1,200 cars to sell over six days, the Barrett-Jackson auctions in Scottsdale, Ariz., has become the world's largest bazaar for car collectors. Unlike most collector auctions, the vast majority of vehicles at Barrett-Jackson roll on the auction stage with no reserve price, drawing thousands of potential bidders looking for a deal — as well as sellers who hope the exposure can give their prized set of wheels a maximum price, even if those wheels come attached to a Yugo convertible. Here's the oddest machines that will cross the Barrett-Jackson stage next week.
Mike Joy, the collector car analyst who narrates SPEED TV's coverage of the auctions starting Jan. 17, has seen a fleet of weirdness roll across the stage over the years, and has a theory about the kind of crowd they attract.
“Who else has one? That’s the questions your trying to answer for," Joy says. "There are many collectors with an eclectic taste leaning toward ‘one of a kind’ or ‘the last one left,’ or ‘you don’t see those every day.’ These types of cars inject a little bit of humor into the auction, and they are fun for everybody to see – whether you would like to take one home or not.”
Take the model above, a pristine 1990 Yugo CV Cabrio with just 351 miles; even its auction catalog entry references the "poor workmanship" Yugos were famous for. "The Yugo convertible was probably the answer to a question that no one had asked," Joy says. "So, this vehicle is going to be very rare, near new, and it will be an absolute steal because you would hope only one more person would show up that would want to buy this car.”
More of a tribute than properly licensed Beatles memorabilia, this piece combines the grandeur of toy submarines with the seagoing ability of a one-cylinder go-kart, although one that plays Beatles songs at speed. "It’s a great piece of whimsy," Joy says. "There’s really nothing in the description about its powerplant, its handling prowess or anything like that, so this is a parade car similar to the little cars you might see the Shriners drive – something that somebody can have some fun with.”
Apparently twice a month for two decades, except in winter, the owner of this 1989 Dodge Shelby Shadow CSX would start it up, drive it 100 yards, then promptly shut it off. It will be driven further than that onto the Barrett-Jackson auction block with 18 miles, in mint running condition. Assuming it's a 1989 CSX-VNT, it's one of only 500 made, and one of far fewer with its rare variable vane turbo and composite wheels intact, impressive technology even though it only made 175 hp. Two years ago, a similar Shelby Shadow with 7,622 miles sold for $7,975, so this Shadow's final price will demonstrate the value of Shelby's name. Joy says it's perfect for the Dodge dealer who wants to complete his garage of performance models; I say it's the fixie bike of hipster ironic vehicle collecting.