Auction Classics: Arizona 2023 – How Low [Mileage] Can You Go? part 2 of 2




Today’s and yesterday’s articles asked the question: How low can you go? The answer: pretty darned low. Today’s cars are once again presented in descending order of mileage, but before we get to that I submit for your entertainment a couple examples of how low people can go. And no, by low I’m not talking about the people who swindled Grandma out of her life savings.

(video length 1:06) Limbo skating is a sport I never knew existed! Wow.


(video length 2:43) Double wow! And quite a good performer, too.

Ok, now let’s play a game of Classic Car Limbo with our top 10. Each will drop the bar a little bit lower and we’ll see how low they can go.



#10 1994 Lincoln Mark VIII  7,746 miles. It’s been many years since I’ve seen a nice Mark VIII, which is a shame because I always liked them. This one made me start looking around for a white Bronco being followed by 25 cop cars (because I thought it was 1994 again…ok, never mind).



The 94 Mark VIII was in its second year of a six year run. In the glory days of the Personal Luxury Car, Lincoln’s Mark III (69-71), Mark IV (72-76), and Mark V (77-79) dominated the top of that market by offering the most brougham for the buck. The Mark VIII’s trunk hump is the main styling cue connecting this very modern car with its past. With demand for brougham way down, the 80’s and 90’s were not so kind to luxury coupes and despite the appeal of this generation, it was sadly the end of the line for FoMoCo’s PLCs.



Flowing interior lines were the thing to have in the 90s and nobody had more flow than the Mark VIII. At the time it came out, I thought this was the most modern interior anywhere. Not a brougham cue in sight, though starting in 95 woodgrain would be added back in. I liked the divide between the black upper and the colored lower (5 color choices).

The 280hp 4.6L V8 was Ford’s first DOHC engine. $10,530



#9 1954 Cadillac Series 62  6,728 miles. 40 years older but just as sleek in its own way, there is nothing quite like Cadillac’s 1950’s dream machines. 1954 was the start of a new generation for the C-body Cadillacs rode on, though Cadillac chose to keep quite a bit of styling continuity. The biggest visual distinction was the wrap around windshield on all models, which was first seen on the 1953 Eldorado.



Tailfins were taller, though still restrained relative to later years. Hardtop sedans wouldn’t be available until 1956 models.



The Mark VIII was obviously not the first car to have the dash flow into the door panels. Cadillac had been doing it for years already, but the 54’s did it with more sophistication. The seat fabric and entire interior on this barely used car appeared flawless. $55,000



#8 1969 Pontiac GTO  4,010 miles.  Muscle cars from their heyday of the late 60’s don’t frequently show up in an ultra-low-mile state, the 67 SS396 yesterday being the exception along with this beautiful GTO.  There was very little info given on this car other than it was originally held by GM for many years and had previously been in the GM Heritage Center.



One would presume from the history and mileage that it is all original, but the seller didn’t actually state it. It is almost too perfect to believe. A few small cracks in the Endura nose were the only flaws I could spot.



Morrokide interior is, of course, perfect though the steering wheel wrap is a little suspect.



I didn’t see the engine personally, just going from the B-J picture, the engine compartment looks like a restored car. Perhaps it has had some refurbishment despite the low miles?



Redline bias plies really complete the original look. Can any experts out there proffer an opinion of whether these look original or reproduction?

So what do you think? All 0riginal or not? Regardless, this is one gorgeous Goat. I’ve always liked green for a GTO color. $110,000



#7 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL 3.096 miles. For something a little different, our next limbo star marks the last appearance of the R107 roadster. All U.S. market cars came standard with V8, automatic, air conditioning, and hard and soft tops.  It was parked next to a 1966 pagoda SL, making visual comparison of the generations easy. Like most folks, I find the earlier generation better looking, but that’s not to take anything away from this appealing luxury sports tourer. It proudly wore its unmistakable 70’s M-B styling for a whole extra decade.



The R107’s final 560SL iteration had a displacement enhancement in 1986 over the previous 380SL. In M-B’s almost rational naming scheme, that meant the 3.8L engine was replaced by a 5.5L SOHC making 227hp, a 72hp jump.



In 1989 this car stickered for $66k. Quite a sum at the time, and adjusted for inflation, more than M-B charges now for an AMG SL 55. Today, R107s are usually relatively affordable, an excellent condition 560 would book around $35k today. Robust bidding ended here at $106,700. But maybe that’s not so expensive, because last year at RM Sotheby’s, a 1989 SL with 9,000 miles sold for $145,600! This year RM sold a customized 1989 for $173K. On the other hand, at B-J you could have gotten a pretty sharp-looking 1989 with unspecified mileage for only $17k. Best to know what you want and inspect closely if you’re bidding at the auctions.


#6 1973 Ford Mustang 3,059 miles. “When the top goes down, the price goes up”, that’s the saying at least. Maybe that effected the price of this Mustang because the top didn’t go down at the auction. In fact, the top has never gone down. Such is the extent that the car has been babied its whole life.



Whatever you think of the final sub-generation of the first gen Stang, it would be hard not to fall for this car in person. I know, because I am generally not crazy about them but found this car to be very winsome. I’ve noticed before that the best examples of 71-73 BloatStangs are most appealing in the metal. Pictures struggle to do them justice.



Even the notoriously dungeon-like interior looked like a light-filled happy place. No doubt the white color and Day One condition are responsible.



Only a light patina on some parts betray the fact that a half century has passed since it left the dealer lot.



There is no doubt in my mind this is the original rubber. Even if you didn’t mind putting some miles on the car, it would not be wise to travel far or fast on these. $51,700.


Same owner brought the 66 Bronco profiled in my last article. I like this guy’s taste.


#5 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 561 miles. The next two are relatively new, so maybe not so exciting. I have a personal weakness for the Boss because my daily driver is an ’11 GT that I bought new. It’s still pretty nice, but long ago lost the new car freshness that this Boss still has, so it brought back good memories.  I still think the Coyote-powered GT is a great car (totally partial opinion) and the Boss was a really cool package built on it.



Among the GT/Boss’s many attributes is one of the most visually attractive engines in an era when most engines are homely affairs bashfully concealed under extensive plastic covers. The blue valve covers are plastic (gray on regular GTs) and the intake has some plastic panels (Boss intake looks quite different from the standard version), but still it looks a lot more like a traditional engine compartment than most. The Boss is still naturally aspirated, its 444hp and 380 lb-ft were 32hp more and 10 lb-ft less than the GT. Of course, the package is a tribute to the 69-70 models and the nominal accuracy of the name made possible by the 5.0 Coyote having exactly 302.1 cubic inches displacement. In Boss form, Ford called it the Road Runner (clever, right?). $49,500



#4 2015 Ford Mustang GT 50th Anniversary Package  245 miles.  The guy behind the car was heard muttering, “Enough Mustangs already! This one’s not even 10 years old!” I can understand, and this is the last one, I promise. But this one sure knows how to limbo!

What we have here is a brand new Mustang, without the warrantee, in the first year for the sixth-gen S550 that came out in the Mustang’s 50th year. Always looking for reasons to commemorate early Mustangs, Ford naturally issued a limited production (1,964 cars, get it?) special package. It consisted of a number of unique interior touches and a few exterior tweaks like a chrome “corral” around the grille’s horse and unique wheels.



The result was a very nice looking Mustang. The package had a replication of 1965 Wimbledon White and added chrome around the side windows and taillights.

That whole idea of a new car losing half its value the minute it drives off the dealer lot doesn’t apply at Barrett-Jackson. The $60,500 it fetched in 2023 is almost exactly the list price in 2015 calculated for inflation, though it was reportedly hard to find one in 2015 for list price.

The next few cars have achieved a truly astounding lack of use in their long lives. They are the automotive equivalent of a popular action figure kept forever in its original packaging. Something to be looked at and admired, but never, ever played with.



#3 1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1  45 miles.  Perhaps the least surprising car ever to find on a list of preserved cars, as evidenced by there being a choice of four 1990 ZR1s (plus a 92) at B-J this year, all with low mileage. But no others with anywhere near as low as this one.

Many ZR-1s were treated as collectible cars in 1990 because they were the first Corvette to meet or exceed the power levels of the legendary big-block Vettes from the 60’s and early 70’s, but had 20 years of advances in handling, drivability, economy, etc. A very exciting car at the time. I remember the hubbub well.



The DOHC all aluminum 32 valve engine made 375hp/370lb-ft (compared to standard L98 245hp/340lb-ft) backed by a unique ZF 6-speed manual. Even optimists in 1990 probably wouldn’t have predicted the dizzying levels of power that would be available in Corvettes over the next few decades, making 1990’s most extreme car look kind of tame. Looking at it in 2023, though, this is a sharp, sharp car in appropriate red color and the only year ZR-1 to have the arguably better-looking early C4 front end while presenting just as perfectly as you would expect of a car with double digit mileage. And on the topic of great looking engines, the ZR-1 has one of the best.



All those years of preservation not driving an incredible driver’s car and today the best 1990 ZR-1 in the world is only bid to approximately what it cost new. $52,800 (actually about 40% what it cost new, accounting for inflation)



#2 1979 Pontiac Trans Am  37 miles. Not 37 thousand or even 37 hundred. 37.

Our runner up is a sure crowd pleaser, a brand new Trans Am sent to us across time from a society that revered this extroverted performance car/chick magnet. Smokey And The Bandit perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the era and is still a popular movie.


There’s another of the ubiquitous custom Broncos


That is obvious by the presence of a SATB tribute display with a cool restified car that isn’t even the right year. It sold for $123k.



If you wanted a more correct looking version of the Bandit’s car to show off in, they had that covered, too, though it’s also a 78. It wasn’t perfect, but priced for a run to Texarkana at $36k.



The 70’s Trans Am would top a list of Cars That Look Best In Black. Pontiac themselves recognized this when they issued the Special Edition package starting in 1976. The 77 SE looked so F*&@#*% good in SATB rolling out of the stagecoach trailer, it typecast the black with gold trim in my and many others’ minds. So, the original purchaser decided to preserve for posterity a black TA with red and yellow decals, red interior, no T-Tops, and plain aluminum snowflake wheels. As an investment car, why not go with the full SE package that everyone loves?



Consequently. as great as this car is, with this color scheme, personally it doesn’t look as good to me as it should on paper. It also rides kind of high. There was a gold 782-mile 79 which I somehow missed on the day, and an original condition mileage-not-given gold 79 which both also ride high. Clearly, Pontiac was using tall springs that year.

Interior looked as flawless as you would expect. Bidders didn’t seem to share my misgivings and bid the car to $220,000. Even accounting for inflation, that’s a decent return on investment, unlike the ZR1.




#1 1979 Chevrolet Corvette.  Our limbo winner, by more than a few inches, is fittingly a low-slung sports car. It’s lower than the dropped 51 Mercury sedan behind it. When it comes to Mileage Limbo, nobody can outlimbo this Vette, not even the 442 mile 25th Anniversary Trans Am to its left or our #6 73 Mustang to its right.



This is the third 1979 GM car on this list. What was it about that year that put people in the collecting mood? With the Coupe De Ville, it was the last year they came with a 400+ c.i. engine. With the Firebird, it was the last year they came with the 400 c.i. engine. What’s special about a 79 Corvette? All three cars were incredibly popular at the time, noteworthy especially for the Firebird and Corvette that they were both a decade or more into their current generations and both had their all-time best sales years.

Just how many miles does this Vette have, anyway???


Not a reference to the nuclear accident.


Yep. 3.9 actually, because its status at this level is measured in tenths. It may have now rolled over to 4.0, based on the description. Time for a new license plate. This has to be the world record holder for miles/year. That’s 0.09 miles (9 hundredths of a mile) per year, in case you didn’t do the math yet. How is that possible? Driving home from the dealership would probably be over three miles, and that is assuming it was parked on day one and never driven again, even around the block.



A sign on the seat for the auction drivers gives a clue. Someone or someones have been extraordinarily dedicated to numerical conservation with this car. It has the most desirable drivetrain with the 225hp L82 version of the 350c.i. engine and 4-speed manual. But who cares? It’s probably never been in third gear, let alone used more than a few of the available horses for power.



Tread wear not an issue with this car. Only $38,500 would have scored you what is surely the world’s best 1979 Corvette, which would seem to answer the question of what is special about a 79 Corvette. In an auction with 156 Corvettes, that’s less than anything from the early 70’s back. It’s less than a 78 Pace Car with 219 miles, or a 78 Silver Anniversary with some refurbishment, and not that much more than several other nice but unexceptional 70’s and 80’s Vettes on offer. It makes sense to me. Who would want the responsibility of caring for a car that can only be driven backwards or pushed?

But I admire the sustained dedication it has taken to maintain the car in running condition and still keep the miles counted on one hand. That goes for all our limbo players. Their owners deserve a big round of applause for providing high-quality storage and maintenance and resisting the urge to drive these cars, all of which would have been a pleasure to drive extensively. Like on a road trip to Arizona in January!