As recently as 15 years ago, Barrett-Jackson and the other Scottsdale, Ariz., auctions were almost exclusively about the grand classics from the 1930s. No more. These cars have all but disappeared from the Arizona auctions and cars from the 1980s and 1990s have filled the void. It’s a sure sign that Gen-Xers are starting to become a force in the collector car hobby. Here’s a quick sample of some surprisingly popular newer cars at the Arizona auctions:
1. 1982-1992 Third-Generation Camaros
Camaros don’t exactly fly under the collector car radar. We’re quite used to seeing 1967-69 first-generation Camaros at Barrett-Jackson, where they’re a staple. Even later second-generation Camaros (1974-81) from the so-called “Malaise Era” of low horsepower and dubious build quality are getting common. What we hadn’t seen until this year was large numbers of third-generation Camaros from the 1980s. They seem to be around in every flavor including IROCs, Berlinettas and Z/28s, in coupe and convertible form. On Wednesday, Barrett-Jackson sold a black 1991 Z/28 with just 100 miles on the odometer for $25,300. A huge price for a third-gen Camaro but it actually seemed like a bit of a bargain for what was essentially a brand-new 24-year-old car.
2. 1999-2002 Mercedes SLs
Mercedes SLs of any flavor are hot in the collector car scene. The first of them, the iconic 300SL Gullwing from the 1950s, is the bluest of blue chip collectibles — a $2 million car. Its little brother, the 190SL, is worth 10 percent of that, the “pagoda” SLs from the 1960s are approaching six figures, and the 350/450/380/560SL of “Dallas” and “Dynasty” fame are gaining steam. So it should be no surprise that the R129 model SL is gaining popularity. Nobody in Scottsdale, however, seemed prepared for the sheer massive onslaught of these at the auctions in 2015. They feature prominently in the consignments of Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele, and Silver in six-, eight- and twelve-cylinder versions. There seemed to be at least three in each tent at Barrett this year while there were almost none last year. Happy 25th birthday and welcome to the ranks of collectible automobile.
3. 1996-2006 Jaguar XK8s
The sheer desirability of the new F-Type Jaguar seems to have shined a spotlight on the very pretty XK8 of the 1990s. While still more of a used car than a collectible — you can still find your share of sun-faded, high-mileage XKs at the buy-here, pay-here lots on McDowell Road in Phoenix — they definitely seem to be on the radar of bargain-minded collectors, with several XK8s showing up at Barrett-Jackson and Silver. Like the R129 SL above, nobody can remember seeing more than a handful anywhere last year. Why not? They’re very pretty cars that look similar to the more expensive Aston Martin DB7.