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Literal TONS of Classic American Iron Went for Pennies on the Pound at Auctions America's Fall Carlisle Sale

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On: Mon, Dec 9, 2013 at 4:26PM | By: Andrew W Davis

Literal TONS of Classic American Iron Went for Pennies on the Pound at Auctions America's Fall Carlisle Sale

I’ve owned a lot of cars in my day(s)—or at least possessed them, as registering them is a hassle when you’re not looking to keep the car more than three months—but there have been only a precious few that really made me miss them once they’d gone.

Sure, her 400 cu. in. V8 really ran on only seven cylinders, nothing power-operated worked on a consistent basis, and I’d still be waiting for her to hit 60 mph from rest if I hadn’t given up and sold her 15 years ago.

But in the pre-eBay days a car-crazed youth like myself could actually find (semi) running cars that people just wanted gone from their garages, driveways, etc…. FOR FREE! Nowadays, however, everything’s worth something—just check out any “official” price guide—and you’ll see that the kind of USS California-sized battlewagons that you couldn’t GIVE AWAY in the 1980s and ‘90s are being stripped, shredded, and sent to China as scrap.

So, mark my words, people: we are living in the very last era of the semi-free super-sized land yacht. Oh, and parts are still plentiful and cheap, mechanics still know how to work on them and there is nothing—NOTHING—that can work on the ladies like a queen-sized, velour-covered rear seating area... [Author’s note: Your results may vary.]

[Cars are listed in the order in which they appeared at Auctions America’s Fall Carlisle auction Oct. 3-4, 2013 in Carlisle, PA]

Lot 104 “1985 AMC Eagle Wagon Limited” [sale price: $2,530]

“Four-wheel drive; 50,000 actual miles; Air conditioning” [Windshield lettering also trumpet this crumpet’s “AC * PS * PB * 4WD and—what has to be my favorite pro-sales sentiment—“Good Miles”.]

Some consider these to be the forerunners to today’s all-wheel-drive “soft-roaders” while others see them just as AMC’s desperate attempt to move the metal by any means necessary. I say they’re both, but that’s not a bad thing. Granted, a wood-sided classic station wagon pushes a LOT of my gotta-have-it buttons, but unlike my Oldsmobile there are a LOT of demons that can lurk in this AMC’s four-wheeler getup—and the adjustable ride-height system some came with—to make that $2.5k look like it was just the ante in a VERY expensive game of Automotive Break-Down Poker. Oh, who am I kidding? I’d have raised my paddle on this baby as fast and as often as it took to put it on my trailer back to Michigan. “Seriously, honey; it’s four-wheel-drive. I bought it with your safety in mind! It’s even got ‘Good Miles’! How could I NOT buy it? Um, dear, please put the toaster down. You could seriously… STOP THROWING THINGS AT ME! I couldn’t help but buy it…”

Lot 207 “1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Coupe” [sale price: $3,950]

“One owner; 38,000 actual miles; Driven three hours to the sale; Runs and drives like new”

Well, hell. Here’s yet another car I’d’ve gotten divorced over as this ’84 Olds Delta 88 Royale Coupe would’ve been a welcome companion for my ’89 Custom Cruiser wagon. Well, let me rephrase that: it would be a welcome attempt to get the missus more accepting of driving the wagon once she gets used to the same basic package clothed in something sexier—ha, ha, I know—than the full-boat, um… boat. But as with all best-laid plans, the price inexplicably shot past my $2,500 limit in short order and somebody even more in need of a wife-mollification device got to take her home. [The car, that is. Auctions America has no information on the disposition of the wife…]

Lot 110 “1984 Buick Riviera” [sale price: $3,190]

“V-8 engine; Automatic transmission; Power steering, brakes, windows and door locks; Wire wheel covers; 25,000 Miles; Air conditioning”

They say that cars pick their owners, and if it’s true, I’m not very popular with the semi-demi-mid-grade GM Division. I’ve had only two Buicks—a mid-‘90s Century sedan and a Corvette 5.7-liter V8-powered last-gen Roadmaster—and both were gifts. OK, truth be told, only the Century given to me by a friend of my wife’s was a gift; the other was a soul- and cash-sucking harlot with only one redeeming quality—it was the last of the “true” rear-drive, V8 Roadsmashers. Now, there’s no reason to believe that this particular Buick will be anything but your best friend and consort, but as I mentioned, it’s probably to ask someone else about how great this car is (or isn’t). All I’ll say is that anything with a V8 engine, power everything, and just 25k miles on the clock can’t be all that bad... Right?

Lot 325 “1979 Lincoln Continental Town Car” [sale price: $1,980]

“460-cid V-8 engine; Automatic transmission; 57,112 actual miles; Air conditioning; Power windows, seats, door locks, steering and brakes; Landau vinyl top”

This is the magical price point at any automotive auction below which people stop paying attention to the obvious discrepancies in catalog listing vs. reality (or at least stop asking why the differences exist). For instance: FoMoCo installed its last 460 cu.-in. V8 in a Lincoln in 1978, a model year BEFORE this car supposedly got one. But, pound-for-pound, this is the deal of the sale. Granted, it didn’t have any of the really desirable goodies collectors look for—like the aptly-named “Collector’s Series”—but at less than two grand it should be worth that in scrap value alone as it's 233.0" long, 79.9" wide and nearly two-and-a-half-tons “on the hoof” as they say. Boy, on scrap metal pricing alone this HAS to be the best deal of the auction…

As I mentioned in my recent Mecum Anaheim item, it’s not necessarily the size of a person’s wallet that controls how freaking awesome their ride can be. And between you and me, at these prices you can use the crap out of these cars and then pass them off for scrap value or a tax deduction or whatever people who aren’t pathologically-linked to every car they’ve ever owned do.

But, in the meantime, with careful maintenance, your “G” ride could be made to run nearly forever on cheap replacement bits you can find at any corner auto parts store. Finding a parking space at that store, however, could be a significantly greater challenge…

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