The Pebble Beach auctions are generally not the place for bargain hunters.
It’s nothing unusual for $300 million in automotive merchandise to change hands with some lots bringing more than $10 million and a staggering 100-plus cars capable of cracking the $1 million mark.
Just 20 or 30 years ago, many of these cars were attainable to people of ordinary means. So what’s an ordinary mortal whose been priced out of the Ferrari and Cobra market to do? Look at some alternatives that provide 90 percent of the bang for 5 percent of the buck. Here are some of our favorites:
Everybody loves a Cobra. Carroll Shelby’s idea of stuffing an American V-8 in a lightweight British sports car was an instant hit. The trouble is, if you didn’t buy one in the early 1980s when they were about $30,000, your chances of acquiring one are pretty slim for much less than a million. So, instead of a Cobra replica you’ll always have to make excuses for, why not buy its spiritual successor, the Dodge Viper? Early examples of this V-10 powered, raw and uncompromising, car can still be had for less than what Cobras were selling for 30 years ago.
One example recently sold for around $17 million. But unknown to most people, it has an American-powered near doppelganger that costs a fraction of the price.
Back in the 1960s, Canadian Frank Reisner dreamed of building Ferrari-like GT cars with American V-8 power. His Intermeccanica Italia roadster hit the mark in terms of Ferrari-like style — the bodies were even built in Italy — but in place of a complex and expensive V-12, most had small-block Ford V-8 power, with some tuned by the famous American race shop Holman and Moody.
About 400 Italias were built, and they’re not cheap (RM Auctions sold one in 2007 for $44,000). They cost a fraction of the Ferrari but have most of the looks and performance, if not the pedigree.
The Jaguar XKE is generally accepted as one of the prettiest cars of all time. And its great looks don’t come cheap. The first and most desirable series of the beloved XKE or E-Type now regularly brings more than $100,000. But few people know that fellow British sports car company Triumph made a three-quarter scale near replica of the E-Type, the Triumph GT6 that was also powered by a smooth and throaty straight six (albeit one that was half the size). About 10 grand buys a Triumph GT6 that many will mistake for a Jag.
Rob Sass is the vice-president of content for Hagerty Insurance. Hagerty is the world’s leading specialist provider of classic car and boat insurance. Learn more at hagerty.ca and you can email rsass [at] hagerty [dot] com
The 1976 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera is probably the one most capable of preventing the fulfillment of one’s automotive bucket list…
With baby boomers seemingly more aware of their own mortality these days, “bucket lists” of things to do before one’s demise have become increasingly popular.
Here are five of the cars everybody should drive before kicking the bucket, taking the big dirt nap, biting the dust or, well, you get the idea:
1. 1967 Corvette L88
The L88 was the Corvette that ordinary civilians weren’t supposed to be able to buy. Rather, it was built to be taken racing by “privateers” (GM was still observing a ban on manufacturer supported racing). Although a regular production option, the L88 was expensive and came with almost no creature comforts. The horsepower was deliberately underrated on the option sheet to come in below the regular 427-cubic-inch 435-hp engine to further discourage Average Joe buyers. In reality, the L88 could make over 500 hp on racing fuel. Acceleration was shattering. It’s the ultimate classic Corvette Sting Ray.
2. 1967 Shelby Cobra 427
Carroll Shelby found that there was almost no spindly little British sports car that couldn’t be improved with the insertion of an American V-8. Under Shelby’s direction, the Sunbeam Alpine became the Sunbeam Tiger, and the AC Ace became the vaunted Shelby Cobra. The baddest version of the Cobra sported a 427-cubic-inch engine that was similar to the one developed for NASCAR. Cobras are hot, noisy and cramped, but they’re really the greatest expression of the muscle car ethos—cram the largest possible engine into the smallest package.
3. 1992-98 McLaren F1
The F1 was everything a supercar should be but so seldom is. Many modern supercars are as much a fashion accessory as a car. Nobody ever bought an F1 as a bauble. Because of the car’s somewhat minimalist nature, and the fact that it was offered only with a conventional three-pedal manual transmission, posers didn’t apply. It’s a reasonable certainty that Kanye West doesn’t own an F1. With three seats and a center driving position, plus reams of Formula One technology and incredible performance (0-60 in 3.2 seconds, ¼ mile in 11.6 and a top speed of 241 mph), the F1 is the one supercar that should be on any automotive bucket list.
4. 1976 Porsche 930
Of all the cars on this list, the earliest version of the Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera (otherwise known as the 930) is probably the one most capable of preventing the fulfillment of one’s automotive bucket list. Early 930s were somewhat diabolical cars with tires that were a bit too small and a turbocharger that lit up suddenly and with a vengeance. The turbo’s abrupt nature could make for scary driving at inopportune times (like the apex of a corner). But it’s the car’s ability to bite back that can make it so much fun and a genuine accomplishment to master.
5. 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi Superbird
The Superbird appeals to anyone with a “stick it to the man” sensibility. It’s whole reason for being was to introduce the streamlined nose cone and giant wing into Chrysler’s NASCAR efforts back when NASCAR still had homologation requirements for race cars. Although available with Mopar’s excellent 440-cubic-inch V-8, it’s the 426 Hemi that belongs on anyone’s automotive bucket list. Between the view over the long hood and nose cone and the view out the back with the five-story-tall wing, the Superbird driving experience is like nothing else.