Published January 12, 2013
While one million dollars might have been a comical extortion amount for Austin Powers’ nemesis Dr. Evil to demand in exchange for sparing civilization, it’s still a good chunk of change for an automobile. The cars listed below are all being offered at one of the major classic car auctions taking place in and around Scottsdale, Arizona this weekend. Most will likely sell for at least a million dollars — some may bring several multiples of that. Is any car worth the price of a house or two in a gated community? You be the judge:
1967 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C ($1.4-$1.7 million) RM Auctions: The Cobra’s father, the legendary Carroll Shelby, passed away last year, and while the 427 S/C Cobra with its blue and white stripe paint scheme, side exhaust and “paper clip” roll bar may be one of the most replicated cars of all time, there’s nothing like the cachet of a real one. It’s possibly the most testosterone-laden car ever made.
1971 Plymouth Hemi ’Cuda convertible ($1.2-$1.7 million) Barrett-Jackson: Possibly the most testosterone-laden muscle car of all time (there’s a pattern here), Hemi ’Cuda convertibles are exceedingly rare. Conservatively rated at 425 hp, the 426 Hemi engine option cost $1,228 (almost $7,000 in today’s dollars). Only 11 were built in 1971, and this is the only one to have been painted the audaciously named shade of “Plum Crazy Purple.”
1965 Ford GT40 ($2.4-$3.0 million) RM Auctions: The GT40 was a purpose-built race car that, due to a loophole in the rules, had to masquerade as a street car. When Enzo Ferrari backed out of a deal to sell Ferrari to Ford, Henry Ford II vowed to crush him in international sports car competition. And that’s just what the GT40 did, essentially forcing Ferrari to retreat to Formula One racing. The GT40 was such an influential car that in 2005 Ford produced the GT, a street version inspired by the GT40. All were quickly snapped up by eager collectors.
1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider ($5.5-$7.0 million) Gooding & Company: To the extent that the achingly gorgeous Ferrari California Spider is familiar to most Americans, it’s as the car that Matthew Broderick (as Ferris Bueller) convinced his buddy Cameron Frye to swipe from his dad for a day of fun in Chicago in the classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” While the car in the movie was a replica, this one most assuredly is not. In the movie, when the odometer wouldn’t cooperate in erasing the evidence of the day’s fun, Bueller announced to the audience: “Here’s where Cameron goes berserk.” One can only imagine Cameron’s reaction if the gavel falls at more than $7 million.
1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster ($1.3-$1.6 million) RM Auctions: Indiana-built Duesenbergs were the cars of American royalty (e.g., movie stars like Rudolph Valentino and Clark Gable) in the years before the Second World War. Incredibly pricey for the time, a bare chassis could cost up to $9,000 (more than $130,000 in today’s money). Typically, customers would have their own custom bodies fitted to the chassis. All in all, a Duesenberg could cost more than $25,000 (or about $370,000, adjusted for inflation). Quite at statement to make when more than 25 percent of the country was unemployed and eating at soup kitchens. This particular grand classic was discovered in Italy after WWII ended and bought by an American businessman who lovingly restored the car in 1971.