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:
1963 Shelby Cobra/1992 Dodge Viper
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.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 N.A.R.T. Spider/Intermeccanica Italia
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.
1965 Jaguar XKE coupe/1973 Triumph GT6
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