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Summary of Auction Picks

I enjoy window shopping for cars as much as the next person, and once in a while I find something that catches my eye.  When that happens, expect to see it featured here as a “favorite pick.” 

I really like the auction site,  Cars&Bids,   because of the more affordable enthusiast vehicles on that auction. 

The full story on Cars&Bids, as well as other enthusiast auctions was covered in the article “Enthusiast Car Auctions.” The Cars&Bids auction site launched in June 2020, and only features vehicles 1980 and newer. 

Selection Guidelines

The cars I pick are not going to be high dollar or the most collectible.  These are the underdogs or more unique vehicles available in the market.  Essentially, cars that stir my soul, are expected to be great bargains or have great potential for modifications.  

Don’t look for any BMW, Mercedes or exotic sports cars in my picks.  I want to highlight the fun, interesting and affordable vehicles that beginning collectors can buy.

All past picks are shown below.  You can access the original auction details by clicking the link in the title of each listing.

1988 Buick Reatta (found HERE)

Why this Car?

This was personal luxury at its best for GM in the late 1980s.  In fact, it was one of the first “hand crafted” cars to come from GM in some time, which in itself makes it a rarity.  That, plus its unique coupe styling makes this an interesting vehicle to me.

The Buick Reatta was a low volume, personal luxury coupe that was only built from 1988-1991.  It was built on a shortened version of the  Buick Riviera platform, which was a good thing.  It had all of the good parts (like the venerable Buick 3.8L V6) tucked under a stylish body.

For the Reatta’s manufacture at the Reatta Craft Center, specialized teams of workers assembled the car at a series of stations rather than on a conventional assembly line. After a team had completed their portion of the assembly, the car would be moved by robots to the next station. Paintwork was performed on site under subcontract to PPG Industries (a leading paint supplier).

This is a really nice example of a Reatta with low miles (41,000) and a pristine interior with a fully functioning digital dash.  I could really see myself tooling around in this as I make my way through the Tim Horton’s or Dunkin Donuts drive thrus.  Yeah, I know how to live it up in retirement!

Auction Ends:  August 23, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $8,000

Sale Price:  $7,500

1996 Geo Tracker with V6 Conversion (found HERE)

Why this Car?

First, I love Geo Trackers!  I owned a new 1990 model and drove several as company cars while at GM.  My 1990 was a fun, capable off-roader that was smaller than the Jeep Wrangler of the day.  That made it able to go places a Jeep couldn’t fit.

As a District Sales Manager for Chevrolet (Geo was a sub-brand under Chevrolet), I wanted my dealers to take more Trackers for a sales promotion.  I took a four door model and put paw print decals all over it (I was “making tracks”).  When the dealers saw my crazy idea, they agreed to take a lot of Trackers.  

When I saw this Tracker come up for auction, I was interested due to my past experience.  When I saw that the seller installed a V-6 engine from a newer Camaro, I was very intrigued!

The Tracker normally comes with a 1.6L four-cylinder engine rated at 95 horsepower.  This Tracker has the 3.6L V-6 engine from a Camaro with 323 horsepower and a 6 speed automatic transmission.  YIKES!  I bet this is scary fast!

The overall conversion and restoration of this vehicle looks really good.  Take a look at all of the pics from the listing (link at top of page).  It is an impressive vehicle!

Auction Ends:  July 29, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $15,000

Sale Price:  $14,250

1986 Chrysler LeBaron Town & Country (found HERE)

Why this Car?

I said I would bring you the underdogs and unique vehicles, and here we are!  This 1985 LeBaron is a real RADwood special.

As old Chryslers go, this one has the right credentials.  It was a one-owner car until October 2020 and it spent that life only in California.

I like station wagons for their utility and differentiation from sedans and SUVs.  This one fits the bill with faux wood paneling and a simulated wire wheel covers.  It’s as fake as Pamela Anderson, but way more fun!

Take a look at the pics found on the auction linked at the top of this page.  The seller spent a lot of time building a nice presentation of the car.  Probably one of the best on any auction site.

Auction Ends:  July 27, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $7,000

Sale Price:  $7,400

1991 GMC Suburban 2500 (found HERE)

Why this Car?

It’s a Squarebody SUBURBAN!  That is all that needs to be said! 

OK, you want more.  I love these “Squarebody” Suburbans almost as much as their little brother, the K5 Blazer.  This Suburban spent most of its life in Arizona and Nevada before landing in Maine earlier this year.  That means the normal rust that these trucks suffer is absent in this rig.

Also, the modifications to this truck are extensive.  Highlights include a 383 cubic inch Vortec V8 mated to a rebuilt “4L80E” transmission. The seller also reports comprehensive replacement of bolt-on parts during the engine swap, detailed in the auction listing. It also includes add-ons like a 64-inch roof rack, 54-inch light bar, and American Racing wheels round out the modifications.

If you look closely, the truck has some bumps and bruises (but no rust!).  It also has no headliner (likely was sagging and just removed and left bare).  For me, paint and interior is no problem.  But then, maybe leave it as-is and enjoy it off-road.

Check out the rust free underbody and the rear panel doors.  This Suburban has real promise!

Auction Ends:  July 6, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: under $10,000

Sale Price:  $6,750

1992 Mitsubishi Delica (found HERE) 

Why this car?

This van is so COOL!  What is not to love about it?  

I saw a Mitsubishi Delica van for the first time about two years ago while on vacation in New York.  It was not as modified as this one, but it was so unusual that it left an impression.  When I saw this one pop up on auction, I just had to share it.

Not sure what caught my eye first…was it the resemblance to the Chariot used by the Robinson family on “Lost in Space?”  Maybe the turbo-diesel engine and right hand drive?  These vans were not sold in the U.S. so the few you see will be imported.  This one has already been titled and registered in the U.S., so no worries for the next owner.

Check out the rear facing bucket seats!  This is one bad ass van!  Too bad it is in Spokane, WA, otherwise I would go after it.

Auction Ends:  June 16, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: under $20,000

Sale Price:  $22,500

2005 Chevrolet Suburban with QUADRASTEER (see auction HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

In general, I find Suburbans to be pretty cool vehicles.  They are capable of hauling eight people, plus a trailer, in comfort and style.  The long wheelbase on the Suburban helps to provide a very stable and comfortable ride in all conditions.  Unfortunately, that long wheelbase can also add to some challenge maneuvering the Suburban in tight places.

Not so with QUADRASTEER!

Quadrasteer is the name of a four wheel steering system developed by Delphi Automotive while under the ownership of General Motors.  It was available as an option on GM’s full-size pickup trucks and 2500 series Suburbans for model years 2002 through 2005.

The system enables the vehicle to turn tighter. It was initially a $7,000 option. The cost was lowered to $5,600, $2,000 and eventually $1,000 in order to boost sales. The steering system was popular for applications frequently towing boats, fifth wheels, or other large equipment.

I had an opportunity to drive a Quadrasteer-equipped 2500 series Silverado pickup in 2004.  It was amazing to drive and was extremely maneuverable.  It is too bad this feature did not live on past 2005.  It really was something special.

Auction Ends:  June 3, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $20,000

Sale Price:  $20,500 (hey, I was close!)

2011 Chevrolet Police Package Impala (found HERE)

Why this Car?

Like last week, I was wondering if I was going to be able to find that one unique vehicle to feature, then this POLICE PACKAGE equipped Impala hit the auction.

Somewhere around 1996, I was a district sales manager for Chevrolet in South Florida.  One of my main duties was allocating cars to the Chevrolet Dealers in my district.  Other than trucks and Corvettes, it was hard to get them to take other cars.  Especially the midsize sedan at the time (Lumina). So, I ordered a police package Lumina and drove it as my company car for 90 days. 

One of my more cooperative dealers obtained a light bar and siren package for me, so I went from dealer to dealer in my Chevrolet Police car.  Most of them loved the creativity and agreed to order more Luminas.  The dealer who loaned me the light bar put this car on his showroom floor for a few weeks to create some excitement for both the sales team and the customers.  It worked…he was my best selling Lumina dealer for the next 6 months!  My kids were 2 and 5 at the time, so loved driving around the neighborhood harassing the neighbors with the P.A. system.

Other than the fine memories a police package creates for me, cars so equipped come with heavy duty suspension, brakes, cooling and electrical systems, making them a bit more durable than the standard fare car.  In the case of this Impala, the low miles (only 3,900) make this a nearly new car.  

Check out those steel wheels and minimalist interior (with vinyl rear seat for easy cleanups).  THIS has the makings of a fun car!

Auction Ends:  May 17, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $7,500

Final Bid:  Auction Cancelled*

*The seller cancelled the auction, claiming he sold the car locally (which is against Cars&Bids rules).  Comments from bidders on the listing suggest this vehicle has undisclosed prior damage (someone searched on the VIN and found it in a police auction with heavy front end damage).  There is always a story!

1996 Jeep Cherokee (found HERE )

Why this car?

I had a hard time picking a vehicle this week.  So many of the listings were BMW and Mercedes Benz cars.  Don’t get me wrong, those are fine vehicles, but I like to highlight the truly unique or rare cars.

I do like this Jeep Cherokee for these key reasons:

  • It spent most of its life in Kentucky, all but insuring it will be rust free.
  • The current owner has had this Jeep since 2014, so it has not been flipped from one owner to another.
  • I like the boxy styling of this generation Cherokee, and this one is in really nice shape overall.
  • The 4.0 litre straight six is such a durable engine, and this one is so equipped.
  • While it has oversized tires, it does not have a suspension lift.  Too many older 4×4 trucks have big lifts, which has an adverse effect on steering, handling and driveline vibration.
  • It’s green.  

Take a look at the pictures in the auction listing…this is a really clean Jeep.

Auction Ends:  May 12, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $15,000

Final Bid:  $9,400

2005 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (found HERE)

Why this car?

I have been watching Cayennes for a while.  When Porsche introduced them in 2003, it was considered almost sacrilegious For Porsche to begin building an SUV.  It very quickly became their best seller, so I guess they knew what they were doing!

The Cayenne has proven to be pretty reliable over time, which is not something most people think when considering a German vehicle.  The fear is that all of those cool performance bits would not age well, however, time has shown that they do.

This Cayenne is a tribute build to the Porsche models that competed in the Transsyberia Rally — a challenging off-road event that ran over 4,500 miles from Moscow to Ulaanbaatar.  It is equipped with the Advanced Off-road Technology Package (locking center and rear differential, hydraulically-activated front and rear sway bar disconnects), Active Suspension Management and Traction Management, making it a very capable off-roader.  The turbocharged V8 producing 450 horsepower adds to the fun factor.

A number of off-road modifications have been made to this Cayenne, and it also has received some recent (and significant) servicing.  It shows some wear and tear (mostly cosmetic). As a result, this should be a good buy with limited work needed to keep this Cayenne running fine for a while.

Auction Ends:  May 4 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $25,000

Final Bid:  $28,000

1983 Porsche 944 (found HERE)

Why This Car?

The 944 is the most reasonably priced Porsche available in today’s market.  When it was originally introduced as the 924 as a replacement for the old 914, it was not well received because it was equipped with a VW/Audi engine and transmission. 

Supposedly, that made it less of a Porsche. Plus, it was a water cooled, front engine layout. This was counter to the configuration beloved by 914 and 911 enthusiasts.

Over the years, the 924 evolved into the 944 and gained greater acceptance from Porsche enthusiasts due to its very nimble handling and light weight.  Oh yeah, it also came with a Porsche-sourced engine and transmission.  

This particular car is a very low mileage, two-owner example.  It looks to be very well maintained and looks great! The market for 944s is increasing each year, so now is the time to scoop one up.

Auction Ends:  April 28, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $15,000

Final Bid:  $12,322

1988 Dodge Ram Van (found HERE)

Why This Car?

I am typically not a fan of any Dodge product, but they were pretty good with full size vans.  This Ram Van is a good example of where they excelled, and being a conversion van makes this the ultimate road cruiser.

This particular van only has 41,000 miles, is still owned by the original owner and looks to be in super clean condition.  Check out those big, comfy captains chairs!

If you aren’t into the vintage look of a conversion van, I bet you can buy this cheaply enough you could strip the interior and build your own camper van.  Either way, this van is ready for a good road trip!

Auction Ends:  April 20, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $9,000

Final Bid:  $8,800

1996 Mitsubishi Patero Junior (found HERE)

Why this Car?

If I am being honest (and I am ALWAYS honest, here!), I had no idea what a Pajero Junior was before seeing this auction listing.  How’s that for a start?

I really struggled to find any unique/quirky vehicles in this week’s auction.  That is until I found little Junior here.  I like boxy SUVs, so this guy caught my eye.  I also like this seller, so it got my attention.

The Pajera is actually the Montero sold in other countries.  The Junior is just that – the little sibling of the big guy.  I am a fan of the other small utes,  Suzuki Samurai and Geo Tracker (both really fun off road, btw), so I think this one is worth a look.  It has really low miles and appears to be in great shape.  It is RIGHT HAND DRIVE, which makes it really novel.  What the heck…let’s see how this little guy does in the auction!

Auction Ends:  April 12, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: I have no idea, but would love to see it go for under 12,000!

Final Bid:  $8,300.  What a deal!

1984 Chevrolet K5 Blazer (found HERE)

Why this Car?

I absolutely love the square body K5 Blazers. I think I’ve made that clear in a number of articles and on the Vehicle Nanny Facebook page.  Unfortunately, most of them that are up for auction are high dollar examples that defy the purpose of Vehicle Nanny.  Those are nicely restored trailer queens that are just too expensive to drive.

This Blazer has the kind of bumps and bruises I like, as they are relatively easy fixes for anyone who is the least bit handy.  The tailgate handle is missing (typical), but can be replaced.  I noticed the console between the front seats is also missing, but the auction description shows that it is included in the sale.  It doesn’t say, but I hope it is in decent shape.

I am not a fan of lifted Blazers with over-sized tires.  It may look cool to some, but that short wheelbase and added ride height plays havoc with on-road handling.  If I were to buy this Blazer, I would return the suspension to stock and put on more suitable tires (no more than 31 inches tall, vs the 35s on it now).  I would also likely add a new intake manifold and carburetor to help the performance of that 5.0L V8.

I’m going to give this Blazer some serious thought for myself.  Don’t anyone bid on it until I give you the all clear!

Auction Ends:  April 6, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $15,000 (I hope it is less than $10,000)

Final Bid:  $14,100.

1991 Land Rover Defender 90 (found HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

I love Land Rover Defenders, as they are one of the most capable off road vehicles ever built.  They gained a worldwide reputation for ruggedness and versatility over the years. Using a steel ladder chassis and an aluminium alloy bodywork, the Land Rover originally used detuned versions of Rover engines. This particular one runs with the indestructible 2.5L turbo diesel. 

The description in the listing shows it has a number of modifications, many of which could be reversed if you want a stock look. Personally, I would ditch the lift and over-sized tires/wheels to return it to stock ride height.  It also shows a bit of wear, tear, bumps and bruises, but I think this might help keep the price down.

Oh yeah, it also has right-hand drive (it was imported from the UK last year, but has a U.S. title). I don’t know how that might affect the value of the Defender, but it would be very novel to drive!

This would be a fun vehicle to fix up to make it really nice, with not too much trouble.

Auction Ends:  March 29, 2021

Predicted Auction Price: $22,000 

Final Bid:  $20,000 (reserve was not met)

1995 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP (found HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

In the mid 90s, Pontiac was selling some of the more fun and best looking cars for GM.  The Grand Prix, especially with the GTP option package, defined Pontiac’s “We Build Excitement” branding.  This package included the revised 3.4 L V6, sport suspension, ground effects and distinctive tail lamps and wheels.  Oh, and the louvered hood vents were especially sporty!

The GTP up for auction has less than 3,000 miles, so it should have lots of good life left to it.

Auction Ends:  March 22, 2021

Predicted Auction Price:  $10,000

Final Bid:  $7,900 (the reserve was not met, so this may get relisted for sale soon).

2015 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 (found  HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

I admit it…I am a sucker for a black Z28.  I typically like to showcase auction vehicles that are unique, quirky and cheap.  This car cost about $70,000 when new, so I think any auction price under $35,000 will be a good deal–especially considering the low 15,300 miles on this one.

When I was still working for GM, I remember following a new 2014 Z28 out of my parking deck one evening after work.  That car was black like this one, and it sounded and looked so tough as it rumbled through the parking deck and onto the freeway.  The Z28 has a 7.0 litre V8 (that’s 427 cubic inches for you old gear heads) that produces over 500 horsepower.  It also has the meanest looking stance with those big meats (tires).

This week’s auction pick is not the great buy of my normal pick, but sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind, go with your emotions and enjoy the ride!  Maybe one of you will step up and buy this car!

Auction End:  March 16, 2021

Predicted Sale Price:  $35,000

Actual Sale Price:  $54,000  (WOW, was I off!)

1993 VW Eurovan (found  HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

The Eurovan is pretty rare by itself, but this one is even more rare with the Weekender package with pop-up roof tent and fold flat seats that form a bed.

Let’s face it…the past year has been trying for everyone and having a vehicle like this can give you the freedom to hit the road and get away from it all while staying safe in your very own camper van.

This one has a lot of miles, but it seems to have received good maintenance and services over the years.  Obviously not a daily driver, but a vehicle like this is there for the fun times only.  Hey…we all need some fun right now!

Auction End: 3/10/21

Predicted Sale Price:  $12,000

Actual Sale Price:  $9,000 (good bargain!)

2002 VW Cabrio (found HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

Spring is just around the corner (I’m an optimistic Michigander!), so thoughts turn to fun, convertible weekend cars. This is the last year of the Cabrio (convertible Golf), making it relatively rare.  This car caught my eye because it will be a relatively low cost convertible to buy with very low miles (43,400).  

I had to laugh when I saw this car was equipped with 14” steel wheels with plastic wheel covers.  For under $1,000, you can get a set of 17” wheels and tires delivered from Tirerack.com.  That single upgrade will really give this car a more modern look and maybe even give it a tougher appearance.  

Best of all…being a California car, rust will not be an issue.  Just look at the underside of this one–super clean!

Auction End:  3/1/21

Predicted Sale Price:  $8,000

Actual Sale Price:  $7,000

1999 Land Rover Discovery II (found HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

The Discovery was intended to fulfill the role the Range Rover originally was intended for; a segment which was now dominated by Japanese rivals such as the Nissan Patrol, Mitsubishi Pajero and Toyota Landcruiser. Although positioned below the Range Rover in the company’s line-up, the vehicle was both longer and higher, offered more room in the back, and optionally also more seats.  The Series II ran from the 1998 – 2004 model years.

I am a big fan of Land Rovers, especially the Discovery model from the late 90s.  They are distinctively styled and extremely comfortable and capable vehicles.  

The common issue with these trucks was head gasket failures and this one already had the head gaskets replaced, along with other high dollar maintenance items.  

Also, this Land Rover spent its life in Florida and Georgia and currently sits in Atlanta.  The seller has had this Disco since April 2020, and in that time he has installed several modifications including a 2-inch suspension lift, a center differential lock retrofit, a Lucky8 front bumper with a Warn winch, and a Kenwood CD player with auxiliary inputs.

It has some noticeable wear and tear, but that just makes it ready for a little off road fun!

Auction End Date: February 23, 2021

Predicted Sale Price:  $10,000

Actual Sale Price:  $11,099

2006 Jaguar XJL (found  HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

The XJ is Jaguar’s flagship sedan.  This generation was built from 2004 – 2009, and continues to provide the utmost in luxury and performance along with its unique British character.

I have always liked the elegant style that is Jaguar, and the XJ in this generation is supposed to be the more reliable of Jags.  It has an all aluminum body (rust free) on an advanced aluminum frame, making it relatively light (nimble handling).

I was attracted to this listing because it was a Jag XJL (the “L” means long wheelbase), but later learned it is even more luxurious because of the Vanden Plas trim on this one.  That trim provides things like lambs wool floor mats and rear seat picnic trays (see the back seat picture above).  

Based on the description in the auction listing, this car shows a few areas of wear, scratches, etc.  That’s OK, as I think that will keep the price down.  Ultimately, I’d like to have a car like this to drive, not admire in the garage.

Auction End Date:  2/17/21

Predicted Sale Price:  $9,000

Actual Sale Price:  $7,800 (someone got a good deal!)

2008 Saab 9-3 Aero SpoertCombi (found HERE)

Saab wagon front

Why this Vehicle?

General Motors fully owned Saab by 2000 (after buying a 50% stake in 1990), and used the Opel Vectra platform for the 9-3.  That makes it a tight, good handling car for its class.  The Aero was equipped with a 2.8L Turbo V6 versus the standard 2.0L turbo four cylinder.  I had a 2008 9-3 convertible Aero as a company car and absolutely loved it.  It was very likely the nicest midsized vehicle I have driven. That Turbo V6 was so very smooth and powerful.

One nifty feature of all Saabs is the ignition key located in the center console, near the driver’s hip (see picture above).  I think it harkens back to Saab’s roots as an aircraft manufacturer.  Neat.

I chose this version of the 9-3 because of the SportCombi (aka station wagon) body style.  It is a nice combination of sport and utility without it being a hulking SUV.  

Unfortunately, GM sold Saab (along with winding down Saturn, Hummer and Pontiac) due to the 2009 bankruptcy.  Saab had a cool following, thanks to its Swedish roots and never survived after the sale to Spyker.

Auction End Date:  2/8/21

Predicted Sale Price:  $8,000

Actual Sale Price:  $10,000

1992 Suzuki Sidekick (found  HERE)

front view of white Suzuki Sidekick SUV

Why this Vehicle?

I owned a 1990 Geo Tracker in 1990 (Chevrolet sold a nearly identical vehicle as the Geo Tracker).  Both were offered as a 2 door convertible, 2 door hardtop and a 4 door hardtop., and found it to be a fun, capable 4×4.  Also had a couple of Trackers as company cars when I worked for GM, and always enjoyed driving them.

This vehicle has body-on-frame construction (like a full size truck and Jeep Wrangler), making it a tough little rig.  It has a 2-speed transfer case with a low gear, making it even more fun if rock crawling.  The Sidekick/Tracker is lightweight, yet sure-footed and its simple design makes it easy to maintain and modify.

Auction End Date: 1/28/21

Predicted Sale Price:  $5,000

Actual Sale Price:  $4,200

1996 Chevrolet Corvette (found HERE)

Why this Vehicle?

The 1996 model is the fourth generation Corvette, known as the C4.  It is the least appreciated of the eight generations.  It includes model years 1984 – 1996, so this one featured is from the last model year of the fourth generation.

The C4 is one of the best performance car bargains, and remains one of the better handling cars to this day. In 1996, Chevrolet offered two special edition versions to commemorate the final year–the Grand Sport (with a vivid blue paint and white stripes) and the Collector Edition (available only in silver).

I always liked the large “clamshell” hood that opened forward, exposing a very neat engine compartment.  The aluminum front suspension components were on full display as well, which I thought was pretty cool.

Auction End Date:  1/27/21

Predicted Sale Price:  $17,000 – 29,000 

Actual Sale Price:  $15,069

Supporting the Hobby

Viewing online auctions like these help stir the imagination and keep the hobby alive. Hopefully the vehicles I picked demonstrated some interesting cars can be bought at reasonable prices.  That is the main intent of Vehicle Nanny.  

In addition to sharing stories like this, I am providing ongoing support of automotive programs designed to inspire and educate young car enthusiasts through the sale of items in the Vehicle Nanny Merchandise Store.  All proceeds go directly to the Hagerty Automotive Youth Program, so I hope you can find a fun item for yourself that also supports our budding car enthusiasts.



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