Every year, Becky (nissangirl74) and I take a day or two out of our crazy schedule, zip out to Scottsdale, and have a little ‘staycation’ amongst the happenings during auction week. Typically, we’ll wander through, check out the cars, scarf some food truck fare, bump into some local friends, and enjoy being together and outdoors in Arizona’s amazing January weather.
This year, we could only squeeze in a one-day trip, and a couple cars seem to have been added to the docket late, so we missed those. As collectors, we like to keep our finger on the pulse of the market, and this year there were only a handful of Datsuns.
One thing we’ve learned in our 15 years of attending the auction: Sellers aren’t always terribly knowledgeable, but neither are the buyers. For example, a couple years ago, a NL320 crossed the block in excess of $50k. We’ve seen shoddy high-windshield Roadsters fetch $30k+, and hastily “restored” 75-78 Z cars fetch Series One prices.
Here’s a recap of the Datsuns from this year:
Lot # 1130 – Blue on blue 1970 one-owner car, with an alleged 15k miles (likely 115k) in a very rare color combo. Repaint with some light refreshing. This car was pretty well-presented, although an undercarriage detailing was sorely needed, and she marked her territory pretty prominently. Mostly correct underhood bits with some wear and light corrosion, to be expected from a northwestern car. A little additional effort (such as refurbishing the original series one hubcaps) would have made this a standout car, but even so, it sold for $47,300.
Lot # 694 – Lime Yellow 1972 car with an alleged two owners. Spent at least part of its life in New York, which is ordinarily the kiss of death for a serious collector car. This one had some light mods but was otherwise remarkably well-presented, with most of its original bits intact and no real evidence of the corrosion I expected to see. Detailing was impressive, the interior was remarkably well-preserved, and the original paint as well-maintained. This one sold for $51,700.
Lot #213 – Orange 1973 Z with some typical mods, none of which were helping its value. Alleged NOS mirrors, spoiler and JDM emblems were an ill-advised choice, as was the strut brace. Most of the important stock underhood bits were thankfully still present and unmolested, but the hastily-added silly “DATSUN” decal on the air cleaner (to cover holes in the airbox) and the stock SU carbs identified incorrectly as “dual Webers” made it clear that this wasn’t an enthusiast-owned car. Interior was black, but seats were butterscotch. Paint was well-done and appeared to be a ‘glass-out’ respray, with some minor panel misalignment. The cheap knockoff fender mirrors on a LHD car made me sad for the car. A decent car that could be fairly easily returned to its former glory, and despite the obvious missteps, this one sold for $46,200.
Lot #1505 – Red 1982 280ZX. This poor thing was clearly unprepared for her day at the auction, but maybe the seller had an extra space on the car hauler. Cracked dash, badly-corroded alloys, terrible quality respray over rust bubbles and dents, overspray everywhere, minimal to no attention to small details, and an overall tired appearance made this one our winner of the “Thirty-Footer Award.” Notably, the online auction pictures at Barrett-Jackson are very flattering, and I just hope this one gets an in-person inspection before bidding. I’d buy it for the transmission. This one sold for… ah, hell. Who cares?
Lot #742.1 – Silver 1973 240Z. This car presented very, very well. Lots of tasteful and appropriate mods included triple Webers, header, aluminum radiator, Rota wheels, BC coilovers and MSA sway bars. The repaint in the original color was very well done, and aside from the backwards-mounted front corner markers, this car was clearly properly-built. This would be the one I’d most like to own, and other bidders agreed with me, driving the auction to a $55,000 sale price.
Lot 421.1 – Orange 1976 280Z. Incorrectly presented as a 280ZX, this car had an 80’s TBI 350 swap and a turbo 400 automatic transmission, allegedly with a posi-traction rear end. The engine swap appeared reasonably well-done, but again, silly little details (such as household screws hanging out of the front bumper) could have been addressed prior to presentation. The orange pearl paint was decently done, but the pinstriping was dated and seemed out-of-place. I loved the paint-matched optional Rally mirrors on this car. The alleged “aftermarket suspension” wasn’t readily apparent, but no one really confirms these descriptions after all. All in all, a good driver-status car that would turn heads and impress the local car show crowd, this one hammered at $33,000.
Some say, “All the world’s a critic,” and I get a lot of flak for dissecting and nitpicking cars before they cross the block. Don’t care. If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Details matter, and we’ll always do our best to praise the correctness of a car when we see it, while pointing out opportunities for improvement. Becky and I enjoyed chatting with some of the attendees about the Datsuns on hand, and we’ll keep attending until one or both of us has to rent an electric wheelchair.
We’re going to leave you with our “WTF of the Auction” award. I’ve owned a couple C5 Corvettes, and loved both of them immensely. Notably, I probably should have kept them longer, because the C5 market is becoming quite healthy of late. But this poor monstrosity almost brought my recently-scarfed gyro right back into the daylight.
Custom hot rod builder Dino Arnold and GM designer Don Johnson teamed up to build the Avelate in Tacoma, Washington. Only two Chevrolet dealers in the entire US signed up to sell this $29,000 upgrade package. Thankfully, after just 27 cars, Avelate went belly-up soon thereafter. The C5’s clean appearance and no-nonsense lines were completely replaced by what can only be described as an adolescent’s fevered sketching, and yet somehow, after reading more about this project, I seem to be in the minority in my abhorrence for it.
Regardless, I’ll let you peruse the pics and judge for yourself, but even the tawdry 1979 Chrysler New Yorker (lot # 329) a few aisles over couldn’t unseat this one from our unanimous vote of worst car of the auction. With a final hammer price of $29,700, the winning bidder basically paid full price for the hideous conversion and got the poor underlying Z06 for free… and it’s very apparent that bidder applications are available in Braille.