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.
#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.
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???
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!
I believe that the wheels on the #8 GTO are one piece alloy reproductions. In order to fit a larger tire to my ’70 Charger, and desiring to match the OEM Magnum look as closely as possible, led to my getting these wheels. A very good match, if I do say so myself; and the same for the GTO! 🙂
Those Magnum 500s do look really sharp. You could be right about right about the Rally IIs, but I lean towards them being regular steel. 1. It’s wearing possibly the original tires or at least older reproductions that mimic closely the original look. Why would they mess with a custom wheel when going for the original look? 2. They are 14 inch, so no need to upgrade 3. I zoomed in extra close on my personal photos and they look like steel. None of the high gloss aluminum sheen seen on your custom wheels. Looks like painted silver. The edges of the vent holes are a bit rough in spots like a steel wheel.
That Caddie would look wonderful in my driveway! It’s a 60 Special Fleetwood, not a 62 series. One wonders how so little mileage could be accumulated over what is now almost seventy years..
Thanks for the correction! I totally missed that, and apparently the seller got it wrong, too. It was in a (very sweet) collection of about 20 cars all selling at BJ.
Only two of these make me salivate. Both are Black Beauties at different ends of the spectrum. The TRANS (can we say That?) AM brings back memories of Smokey and Bandit. 😃 😊. Beautiful car, but once drove one. Not a great experience. NOW, the 54 Cadillac Sixty Special is another story! Beginning of Cadillacs fabulous fifties Standards of the World . Didn’t notice on this car, but recall clear plastic tube running up from package shelf for air conditioning. This Cadillac looks much like one used in film DRIVING MISS DAISY. 1958 Sixty Special (in formal black) is my all time favorite Cadillac. As mentioned in my previous posts, my late brother had multiple Mercedes! Wouldn’t want a Mercedes at any price!
Yeah, 1950s Caddys are to die for. Nothing else like them. If this car had A/C, it should have been the kind mounted in the trunk with clear plastic tubes running in to the roof. But even on this top of the line car it would have been optional.
I did an article a few years ago on a 54 Buick Roadmaster that did have that style AC, so you can see the pictures if you want. At the end of the article I also link to a good series Tom Halter did on the history of auto AC including a whole article on a 55 Sixty Special’s system.
Based on the cracks in the GTO’s tires I’d say they are old and have sat with the vehicle weight on them in one place for a very long time and in another for a very, very long time. That of course doesn’t mean that they are original, just that they are old.
On the Mustang the 3 Large replaceable markings that appear to have been held in the mold with Allen head, not Phillips screws make me think they are reproductions.
Thanks for the tire input. These cars are so old they could have reproduction tires that show excess age, so that makes it hard. good point.
I’m not following you on the Mustang markings.
So many think “keep miles low to preserve them”, or else “things break!”. Just rollers taking up storage space.
There’s many car styling fans that only care about looks, not driving, and never turned a wrench to save their life. Just into “memories of being young”.
Love the Mark VIII, especially after the mid-life refresh. But I thought the interior was absolutely begging for a touch of woodgrain when it first came out.
I actually think that black/red/yellow color combo is really cool on the Trans Am, possibly one of a kind these days. Black/gold “bandit”colors is the pop culture cliche combo, and like so much today is driven by the trendiness of nostalgia based on a movie rather than actual nostalgia based on the cars themselves – think 59 Cadillac hearses are all now ecto-1 clones. 79 Trans Ams had one of the broadest color pallets available at the time, not every preserved example should be the cookie cutter black/gold to represent that.
My dad makes fun of the bandit scheme all the time, he had a blue/blue 78 and he claims the “it” color on Trans Ams back then was actually gold/black scheme, inverse of the Bandit
The GTO’s originality is raising my eyebrows, I didn’t think you could get a The Judge rear wing on a standard GTO
I am intellectually sympathetic to that POV. My problem is when it comes to Trans Ams, I am a total tool of the cliche. I fully absorbed and internalized it to the point of emotional dependence. I like the black and gold color scheme more than I like the actual car. It’s a sickness, I know.
The links I put in the articles were both gold cars, which is popular. There’s also the silver 10th anniversary 79s, which is kind of cool. The 1980 (?) White with gold trim package was pretty cool, too. But none are black with gold! Financially speaking, I think the auction car would have brought even more $ if it was a Special Edition.
The funny thing is none of these late second Gen Trans Ams went for much money at auctions until Burt Reynolds auctioned off his personal black/gold SE, which skyrocketed the whole Trans Am market, so it makes sense that combination still commands a premium from the inertia. I think the values will balance out eventually, either raising values of the rest or the values of “bandits” coming back down to earth. Kind of like how the high impact color Mopars and decal packages like the 71 Cuda billboards commanded an extra high premium 20 years ago, but of late seem to be on a more even playing field with more regular colored/destriped ones.
I’ve always been fond of buccaneer red personally, I had a 73 diecast model as a kid that cemented that as the definitive Trans Am color combo of this generation
Like Paul said I do not understand these cars especially now after their second sale. As an investment choice they are a very bad choice when you ask any investment professional as Paul pointed out. Yet, I’ll bet some of them will show back up at auction in the future for the third go around just like art gets resold and resold although art maybe a better investment. Me, I’d keep the cars pristine as I am able but would drive them, and drive them, and drive them…
Wow again! Yet another group of fantastic vehicles and I’d gladly take any one of them. But my favorite two are the first two: Green Lincoln and black Caddy. I totally agree with Robert above in saying that the Lincoln Mark really REALLY needs (needed) just a touch of real wood inside. Especially with that interior color.
Thanks. I think I agree with you, the Lincoln and the Caddy are both the most lust inspiring for me. Sporty and fast are fun, but luxury may be the most satisfying. Even sitting still it’s still luxurious. You can enjoy that anytime you get in the car.
Lincoln agreed, finally, since they put the wood back in later.
How do they keep the foam on the GTOs RamAir in good shape? Is it enough just to keep it away from fumes and sunlight?
I’d put money on that being reproduction
Found it on ebay for about $70 but it’s black and not green
I couldn’t own something and not drive it. I don’t need to rack up miles either. I have a 2012 Boss 302, probably will break 10,000 mile mark this year. I run about 10 autocross events a year and these occasional car show or just running errands. I done some modifications to the car, kept all the old parts so someone can put it back to stock. Me, I’m going to drive it.
I find enjoyment even in a short hop to the drug store.
Congrats on having a great car and both having fun driving it and keeping it in good shape. Living the dream!
My older Brother had three of those F bodies, one a ’76 Trans Am. My younger brother had an exact replica, complete with T Tops. They were great fun to drive, but of course can’t hold a candle to a late model Boss 302. I really like the new Mach One, my favorite is the 1970, but I’d buy a used late model Mach instead. I’ve already had a ’70 Mustang and prefer the newer cars.
If they had a ‘83 thru ‘86 Thunderbird or ‘81 thru ‘85 Cutlass Supreme 2 door with these few miles, I would make a solid bid.
These were the hot cars to have when I started my career. I ended up with the Cutlass which lasted 13 years. I finally gave it up when the A/C busted. What a mistake!!
Those would be sweet finds. There’s got to be a few Cutlasses out there with super low miles.
Low miles or carefully driven miles with the speedo cable off, that was a common practice here with diesels not to keep the resale value but just to avoid the mileage based fuel tax, recconect the speedo for 6 monthly inspections only.
I don’t remember that much red in a T/A Screaming Chicken. Did it come with the red interior, or did someone modify it?
This car’s claim to fame is extreme preservation, so I’m confident it is original interior. There were quite a few color options on the Firebird at the time.
The screaming chicken came in Gold, blue, red, and silver(tenth anniversary), and unless tied to a special edition package were separate options. Red is the least common, I’ve seen it more combined with yellow which seems like the least common exterior color as well, which is what makes this one stand out so much, it’s not the usual black/gold
I think yellow was more common on Esprits and regular Firebirds, not so much on Trans Ams. I worked with a guy who had a ratty old 79-81 TA in yellow, back when ratty old TAs were a common thing for young guys to drive.
This crop makes more sense as the kind of car someone might have bought just to preserve as a collectible. The green Mark VIII was seen as a really special car when it came out, at least to older Americans who had watched the Mark come back from the awful VI with the impressive VII. In fact, I was once told of an old union worker who had saved his money and splurged on one of these late in life. He hardly ever drove it, and wouldn’t even allow people to ride in it.
The 73 Mustang – Mustang mania had died to embers by then, but the embers were there, and the knowledge that this would be “the last” Mustang convertible surely made someone think it would be worth something someday.
I am kind of amazed you did not see any of the black/silver Pace car Corvettes (1980?) – lots of those got this treatment, though maybe most of those have flushed through the system by now.
I have a link to an ultra low mile 78 Pace Car in the text. I didn’t include it in the list just because it is so similar to the 3 mile 79, which had to be on there. I’m pretty sure there’s been at least one Pace Car at every BJ I’ve been to. They are eternal.