After the record prices for JNCs seen in Monterey last year, all eyes were on the gavel-pounding circus that is Arizona in early January. With no less than six auction houses competing for attention and incessant television coverage, it’s like Superbowl of car auctions, complete with all the beer (and beer guts) you can imagine. Humans being humans, there was a cadre of capitalists waiting in the wings to cash in on the J-tin hype. Here’s how they fared.
Of the most interest was a genuine PGC10 hakosuka up for sale at RM Auctions. The original Skyline GT-R still represents the vanguard of classic JDM, cars that were never sold in the US but are highly desirable due to their cultural significance and racing provenance. This one, which seemed to be a fine example, sold for just $88,000 (including 10 percent for fees and commissions).
Compare that to the $242,000 for the hardtop at Monterey, that’s peanuts, below even street value in Japan for a real, S20-powered sedan GT-R. Why the discrepancy? Well, its two extra doors was likely a huge factor. In a venue lousy with Ferraris and muscle cars, have a set of rear doors makes it a family car with a big engine. The hardtop’s slick profile can be appreciated by anyone, but only the GT-R faithful understand the four-door. And even then, most of them would probably prefer the two-door anyway.
Lastly, our sherpa into the world of eight-figure exotics, Tom Knudsen, offers this opinion: “Arizona is not the best place for stuff like this. RM is the right company, but Arizona is not the place for young hako lovers, in my honest opinion.” Another report from the floor revealed that everything seemed to be down this year. Perhaps a foreboding sign of economic troubles ahead?
So rejoice, GT-R hopefuls. There’s still a small window of opportunity. You just might have to settle for two extra doors.
Another blue chip JNC is the Mazda Cosmo Sport. Bonhams had one in Arizona, crossing the block for $110,000. Again, this was a far cry from the $264,000 in Monterey, but there’s a clear reason for the difference.
That Monterey Mazda was an earlier short-wheelbase version and one of the finest examples on earth. The Arizona Cosmo, on the other hand, is a long wheelbase Series II that has clearly spent its lifetime in the hands of someone who never thought it would be worth anything, and is now trying to cash in.
Rust bubbles abounded in the rockers, lower fenders, and beneath the chrome taillight bezels. The dash and door panels were damaged and patched poorly, and most egregiously, all four wheel arches were inexplicably flared, bulging like a botched attempt at a fender roll.
It’s someone else’s problem now, hopefully someone who has the dedication and resources to restore this rare bird properly.
The FJ40 Land Cruiser is another piece of Japanese steel that’s been skyrocketing in value recently, dancing around the six-digit threshold. This beautiful Spring Green 1966 at RM stalled at $45,000, likely because there were a dozen other finely restored examples floating around Scottsdale. Oh look, here are a bunch of them now.
UPDATE: Another FJ40 has sold for $55,000 and the tan RM Auctions 1976 FJ40 has sold for $80,o00.
A 1967 Toyota 2000GT from Switzerland failed to reprise its million-plus dollar price tag from Monterey and prior. Reports from the Gooding & Co. auction say that all the money left the room by the time it made its appearance, and that there were several no-sales at this time Friday afternoon.
Lastly, a 1968 Toyota Corona hardtop coupe made an unexpected appearance at Bonhams. The well-preserved 27,000-mile survivor comes from the collection of Martin Swig, whose family was behind the Bay Area’s Motoring J Style shows of 2007-08. This one sold for a very affordable $11,000. Compare that to this 1968 Corona sedan with fewer than 9,000 original miles hat fetched $36,000 back in 2009.
Thus far, it appears prices are down across the board this year, not just for J-tin. We’ll have more coverage of the Arizona auctions as they happen. Check back to this post for updates.