No way. That’s not possible. That makes zero sense. Oh come on — really?” Welcome to the calliope of incredulity running around inside my otherwise-seasoned noggin during Monterey Auction Week. The madness that prevailed in the market for cars that sold in the perceived “lower end of the offerings” was more eye-watering than the prices achieved by the Violati Ferraris sold at Bonhams. Listen, from where I was sitting, I watched three patterns unfold while $464 million and 822 cars were redistributed among buyers and sellers: First, there is not an unlimited supply of billionaires who need or want Ferrari competition cars priced above $5m. If any segment of the collector market peaked or perhaps even dipped 10%, it was this one. That’s all relative, of course, to the rocketship these cars have been riding for the past 30 months, but it showed some sanity. P.S: I’m not including road cars here — just competition cars that aren’t easy to drive to your favorite event or country club. Second, there is an enormous supply of millionaires who need or want iconic European sports cars priced between $1m and $5m. The sell rate in this group was as impressive as the high estimates that were achieved. This to me proved the new (gulp) “sweet spot.” Third — and most mentally staggering for me and a great many peers watching or participating — were the outliers that were meant to be the “cheap” cars (and the word “cheap” is directed at the 1% of the world who can blow $100k like they’re buying a pack of gum. I’m not tossing it around as if that amount of money isn’t a king’s ransom to most of the world’s inhabitants). When tasked with “The Five Best Buys Under $100k,” I sat for an uncomfortable pregnant pause, went over the results and was immediately flummoxed. In retrospect, this segment caught me off guard time and time again more than any other — while getting a sore butt sitting for hours on end at all of these events. Here are five wonderful cars that are awarded the “I Could Have Had a Ferrari Lusso a Few Years Ago Trophy.”

Austin Mini Beach Car

Bonhams Lot 233: 1962 Austin Mini Beach Car sells for $181,500 on August 15. Technically this is nowhere near $100k, but I have to include it because of the bidding insanity. Even on the best day it should have only been $95k, or half as mad, if you will. Okay, this car is adorable, it is rare and it is in superb condition — but it’s a 1962 Austin Mini Beach Car. Not a Monte Carlo Paddy Hopkirk Mini Cooper but a glamorized golf cart, harbor gofer, grocery getter — and something that makes a fine partner to your Fiat Jolly. Now all you need is a Renault 4CV and you’re the king of all things beach-worthy. $181,500? Woohoooooo! The seller must still be celebrating as he turns this cash into a proper Goodwood-prepared, race-ready vintage Mini Cooper, 2014 Mini Countryman and aforementioned Renault 4CV. Madness Meter says Loco Factor 10.

Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43

scm affodrable classic-toyota fj Bonhams Lot 243: 1972 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43 sells for $110,000 on August 15. Gooding & Company Lot 307: 1980 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 brings $137,500 on August 17. I need to know whether the buyers of these two cars drove either one prior to their giddy bidding. Much like the zaniness around old Series II and III Land Rovers, I get it at $10k to $50k — sort of. At 2014 Range Rover HSE money, I don’t get it. Both of these cars were in extraordinary condition and were presented very nicely, but they are not rare and not fun to drive. Let’s face it, they’re not anything other than nice old agricultural farm vehicles that make lovely yard ornaments in Nantucket. Madness Meter says Loco Factor 9. I should give a shout out to the fellow who purchased the $56,100 (with $160k of resto receipts, wha? How?) 1965 Land Rover at Russo and Steele. You look like Stephen Hawking right now.

Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce

scm affodrable classic-alfa romeo giulia Gooding & Company Lot 63: 1968 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT Veloce brings $93,500 on August 16. To my taste, the rather bland black exterior and “Trashy Lingerie Stripper Dial-it-Back Red” interior really failed, but then again, what do I know? I just wrote about how you should get one of these cars if you can find one under $50k! The consignor spent buckets of bullion doing this car. I would have asked “Why?” I suppose he probably got most of his resto dough back. The buyer just set the new bar for these coupes, and there are Alfisti everywhere grousing about this result. Personally, I think the Alfa Montreals at similar money over the weekend were better buys. Think about that for a second, and which car would you rather have? Madness Meter says Loco Factor 7. The low estimate was $60k, so even the seller had sensible expectations. I can’t erase the memory of the anger in the red interior. Ouch.

Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile

scm affodrable classic-autobianchi Gooding & Company Lot 124: 1961 Autobianchi Bianchina Trasformabile sells for $104,500 on August 17. Low estimate was $65k, and the selling price was that of the 1986 Ferrari 328 GTS at RM the night before. I know this comparison is a pure dollar-versus-dollar exercise, but sometimes that’s all one needs. $100k equals a lake house, ultra man-cave, Ferrari 328 GTS — or this circus-clown-car curiosity. Microcar purists, Donald Osborne and Fiat collectors checking off boxes to add one to their collection aside, who cares at over $50k? I suppose if I had a home in Anacapri, Italy, and needed something to go down the hill quickly for espresso or gelato and up the hill eventually, this might work — no, it wouldn’t. I’m babbling here because frankly I’m at a loss for words at this car being over $100k. Madness Meter says Loco Factor 10.

Volkswagen Type II Camper

scm affodrable classic-vwbus Gooding & Company Lot 104: 1967 Volkswagen Type II camper and trailer brings $99k on August 17. The low estimate was $70k. In an effort to be fully transparent, this was my lot and one of seven cars I brought to be auctioned over the weekend (check the welsh company to get to know more about the vehicles I bought). My expectation was only that I not take it home, and as it was sold “without reserve,” that would be accomplished. Low estimate would serve me well, and the high estimate was my gut being bold. Could I join the club of 23-Window Bus Nut Sellers? I always marvel at these sales, but not this time. VW buses are a staple at any high-profile auction — and they make zero sense to me as a car enthusiast. This bus was simply purchased to be resold. I thought it was goofy and cool — but not a keeper, much to the dismay of my twin 6-year-old boys. Out of my seven cars, this brought me the second-most-joyful result, and the other cars were all far more exotic. What would I rather have with the proceeds? Well, that’s easy: 50% of a GT350 Shelby Mustang. See, I can walk the talk here. Madness Meter says Loco Factor for all VW buses at $100k is 10. In the immortal words of Ricky Roma in “Glengarry Glen Ross”: “Let me buy you a pack of gum and show you how to chew it.” That’s the feeling I get having been part of the madness where $100k doesn’t go very far. ♦

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