The Nouveau Mini is Rich in Fun

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried asked, “Too soon?” after telling a 9/11 joke just weeks after the Twin Towers fell — and he heard boos instead of laughs.

The first reaction to the notion of the “new” Mini being an Affordable Classic might well be a chorus of jeering “Too soon!” from owners of the original Mini.

After all, the first generation of the newly reimagined, redesigned and relaunched BMW/Rover Mini, produced 42 years after the inarguably classic Mini, might be nothing Read More

It’s Time to Swim with the Sharks

1987 BMW M635 CSi

The cars with pure, clean shapes stick in our minds — and often rise in the market.

You know them in your bones: the E-type, the C2 Corvette Sting Ray, the long-hood 911 (hell, any 911) — even the VW Bus. These are all pure shapes — and collectible.

What will be next?

I’d put a little money on the Shark.

A big predator

Although history doesn’t record the exact moment when “Shark” was first used in reference to a Read More

The Joys of Depreciation

Top-level luxury saloons are rarely purchased as an investment, but they hold their place in the market because they are status symbols. Among status symbols, Mercedes has long been at the top, with the Maybach brand creating even more exclusivity than Rolls-Royce or Aston Martin.

A 2004 Maybach 57 sedan sold for $93,500, including buyer’s premium, at Barrett-Jackson’s 2016 Scottsdale auction. The car has fewer than 20,000 miles on the clock. Was this a stratosphere car gliding downward into Affordable Read More

The Best Deals in the Desert

With crude-oil prices tanking, election rhetoric soaring, the stock market teetering and certain collector-car segments already correcting, Scottsdale 2016 was among the most keenly watched auctions since 2009. As described in Publisher Keith Martin’s column on p. 16, in aggregate, though, the effect was neither terrible nor terrific. Certain 1950s and 1960s bellwether investments, such as Ferraris and muscle cars, seemed down from previous highs. Then again, 1980s through 2000s sports cars continued to soar.

With some cars climbing, others Read More

A Sexy Beast Without an Entry Ticket

The Honda S Series was Honda’s first real foray into automobile production.

Japanese Keiretsu politics threatened to limit Honda to motorcycle production only, so the company started the S600 as part of a broad development effort — one that led to greatness with the Honda Civic a few years later.

But in the early 1960s, Honda was still finding its way into the automobile market. Japanese motorcycle and automobile makers in this era had simultaneous tendencies to copy established designs Read More

Choose Wisely — or Not at All

From the beginning, the Fiat 850 Spider has been overshadowed by its big sister, the 124 Spider. The 124 was prettier, more powerful and arranged as a proper sports car with the engine in front and the drive wheels in back. In contrast, the 850 Spider had its engine in the back. Although the little Fiat still pushed from the rear wheels, it never pushed very hard.

The Fiat 850 was developed in the early 1960s from the same underpinnings Read More

The Virtue of Patience

Of all the variations made of VW’s venerable Type 2 van from the first model in 1950 through the end of the air-cooled engine in 1984, the Westfalia camper is probably the most recognizable and the most popular among American buyers. Further, if there was a vehicle that could capture the hippie spirit of the 1960s, what else could it be but a VW Microbus kitted out for camping?

A better camper van

From the beginning of the line in Read More

Volkswagen’s Hot Hatch Turns Collectible

By 1970, Volkswagen’s “People’s Car,” the venerable Type 1 Beetle, was long in the tooth. The company knew it was time for a successor — something cleaner than the stinky old air-cooled model, with a modern body design. The company got to work on a new project called the Type 17.

The new car used a transverse engine and front-wheel-drive layout borrowed from VW’s Audi subsidiary, and Italdesign Giugiaro provided the bodywork for an attractive compact hatchback car.

Most of Read More

Playing Whack-A-Mole in Monterey

It’s August 2015 on the Monterey Peninsula, and the results are in from the International Whack-A-Mole competition! Apply your knowledge of this zany arcade game to the recent auction scene. Where are the prices going next? What’s going to pop up in value and surprise you and what is going to get walloped and go down and shock you?

Here are the rules:

Attend a major auction, take whatever knowledge you have as a professional, amateur or swanky European consultant, Read More

Toyota’s Under-the-Radar Sports Car

Some marques, even in the affordable category, seem to engender passionate supporters. Mention Alfa or Porsche, and the swooning starts. Even the humble Miata has a plenty-of-fans.

The Toyota MR2? Not so much.

But if you are looking for an affordable two-seater, it should be on your list to investigate. They are plentiful and have performance on par with the competition — across nearly 25 years of production and three wildly different design envelopes.

The accidental sports car

The MR2 Read More

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