Classic American 'dream cars' at auction
Concept cars from the 1950s and '60s could bring big money at auctions this week.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Last year's $3.24 million sale of a 1954 Oldsmobile concept car at a Scottsdale, Ariz. auto auction definitely got the attention of automobile collectors.
"Dream cars," as they were commonly known in the 1950s, can bring big money. The vehicles show what automobile designers of that era felt future cars would look like.
This year, Barrett-Jackson, the company that sold that golden Oldsmobile F88 concept car, has five 1950s and early '60s concept vehicles up for auction at its annual Scottsdale event. The Barrett-Jackson auctions begin today and will run through Sunday, Jan. 22.
Barrett-Jackson does not release estimates of what cars might bring at auction.
"The buzz is that every one (of these concept cars) will bring $2 million to $3 million," said McKeel Hagerty, president of Hagerty Insurance, a company that insures collectible cars. "I think that's an overstatement."
Still, he said, some of these cars will fetch probably seven-figure prices.
Several collector car auction companies stage events in Scottsdale around this time, but Barrett-Jackson's remains the centerpiece event. The Barrett-Jackson auction is even televised live on Cable TV's "Speed Channel."
Among the concept vehicles being sold this year is a 1950 General Motors Futurliner bus. The huge red-and-white bus was created to help carry around the GM "Parade of Progress" car shows.
"American concept cars from this romantic era are always among the most gorgeous vehicles at our events," said Craig Jackson, president and chief executive officer of Barrett-Jackson, in a company announcement.
The Pontiac Banshee prototype, which never made it to production -- GM executives didn't want it competing with the Chevrolet Corvette, according to Barrett-Jackson -- closely presaged the design of later Corvettes.
The Chrysler d'Elegance concept car featured the prominent grill that would also appear on several Chrysler production cars of the era and that would reappear later on the current Chrysler 300 sedan.
Concept car designers weren't always so prescient, though. While many American cars did feature jet-inspired designs, none went as far as the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville concept car. It featured a bubble-topped cockpit and a fake jet exhaust in the back.
This is one car that, Hagerty said, will probably fetch a multi-million price. For one thing, legendary GM design chief Harley Earl was personally involved in its creation.