Let Previous Auctions Guide Bids on Classic Pickups


In the world of collectible automobiles, previous auctions can serve as a benchmark for future auctions. When a vehicle sells at auction, the transaction is quite transparent; everyone knows the selling price and it acts as a guide for future transactions for similar vehicles. Based on that premise, we're following up our September story about affordable collectible pickup trucks with another geared toward Mecum Auctions' November auction in Anaheim, Calif.

When analyzing Mecum's August auction in Monterey, Calif., we focused on the up-and-coming and affordable classic pickup truck segments. The segment we liked most was the pre-1980 pickups, which cost less than brand-new, fully loaded 2015 Ford F-150s, Chevrolet Silverados or Rams.

Below is a recap of the Monterey results.

Monterey: Sold With Winning Bid

  • 1932 Ford Roadster Pickup: $60,000
  • 1954 Chevrolet 3100 Five-Window Pickup: $45,000 (pictured above)
  • 1954 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup: $27,500
  • 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup: $26,000
  • 1953 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup: $26,000
  • 1951 Ford F1 Pickup: $25,000
  • 1965 Ford F100 Pickup: $17,000
  • 1963 Chevrolet Corvair Rampside Pickup: $14,000
  • 1960 Ford F100 Pickup: $11,500
  • 1989 Dodge Dakota Convertible: $4,500

Monterey: Unsold With Highest Bid

  • 1940 Willys Pickup: $40,000
  • 1941 Chevrolet Pickup: $30,000
  • 1956 Ford Pickup: $35,000
  • 1934 Dodge Flat-Bed Pickup: $30,000
  • 1959 Dodge D100 Utiline Pickup: $25,000
  • 1952 Studebaker Pickup: $25,000
  • 1969 Ford Bronco: $24,000
  • 1935 Dodge Pickup: $20,000

Two other Mecum auctions followed the Monterey event: Dallas in September and Chicago earlier this month. To put the Monterey results in context, here are the Dallas and Chicago results.

1959 Chevrolet Apache

Dallas: Sold With Winning Bid

  • 1971 Chevrolet Short-Bed Pickup: $43,000
  • 1946 Chevrolet Custom Pickup: $39,000
  • 1970 Chevrolet El Camino: $37,000
  • 1956 Ford Big Window Pickup: $36,000
  • 1956 Ford F-100 Pickup: $32,500
  • 1959 Chevrolet Apache Pickup: $30,000 (pictured above)
  • 1955 Chevrolet Napco Series 1 Pickup: $28,000 (pictured below)
  • 1972 Chevrolet Cheyenne Super Pickup: $26,000
  • 1978 Jeep J10 Pickup: $23,000
  • 1960 Ford F-100 Pickup: $21,500
  • 1966 Chevrolet C-10 Pickup: $17,500
  • 1965 Ford F-100 Pickup: $16,500
  • 1965 Chevrolet Custom 20 Pickup: $15,000
  • 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne Pickup: $14,500

Dallas: Unsold With Highest Bid

  • 1953 Ford F-100 Pickup: $48,000
  • 1970 Dodge McMullen A100 Pickup: $45,000
  • 1948 GMC COE Flat-Bed: $40,000
  • 1959 Chevrolet El Camino: $40,000
  • 1972 Chevrolet 454 Pickup: $31,000
  • 1981 Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler: $24,000
  • 1925 Ford Model T Pickup: $19,000
  • 1969 GMC 1500 Pickup: $11,000

1955 Chevrolet Napco 4×4

I believe that the 1955 Napco 4×4 conversion (above), despite its high selling price, will turn out to be an excellent investment. The same holds true for any Jeep J10 that is a solid, rust-free original or an already restored truck. It's typically unusual for sellers to recoup the full cost of a full restoration.

There were far fewer trucks available at the Chicago auction held Oct. 9 to 11.

Chicago: Sold With Winning Bid

  • 1959 Chevrolet El Camino: $61,000 (pictured two photos below)
  • 1971 Chevrolet K-10 Pickup: $27,500 (pictured three photos below)
  • 1966 Land Rover Series IIA 109 Pickup: $26,000
  • 1950 Ford F-1 Pickup: $22,500
  • 1973 Ford Bronco: $21,000
  • 1961 Willys FC-150: $11,000
  • 1959 Ford Ranchero: $8,250 (pictured below)
  • 1963 Ford Econoline: $5,250

Chicago: Unsold With Highest Bid

  • 1956 Ford COE: $32,000
  • 1946 Chevrolet Half-Ton Pickup: $31,000
  • 1952 Chevrolet 3600 Pickup: $30,000

1959 Ford Ranchero

The first takeaway from the Chicago auction was that a higher percentage of trucks went home with new owners. And I think that there were some real bargains based on condition and recent sales, the most notable being the 1959 Ford Ranchero (above) that sold for $8,250 and the 1961 Willys FC-150 that sold for $11,000.

The Ranchero, which shared styling with the all-new-for-1959 full-size Fords, was a six-cylinder, three-speed manual model that presented well with the exception of the out-of-place thin white sidewall tires.

1959 Chevrolet El Camino

At the opposite end of the spectrum was the 1959 Chevrolet El Camino (above), which sold for almost eight times as much. Why? First it's an El Camino, and all things being equal (which wasn't the case here), an El Camino will usually sell for more than a comparable Ranchero from the same year. The El Camino was a frame-off restoration with the potent 348-cubic-inch tri-power engine mated to a four-speed manual transmission. It had power steering, upgraded power disc brakes, power seats and power windows along with a Vintage Air climate-control system and high-quality audio system. With the exception of the redline tires, it's stealthy unless you raise the hood.

I consider both trucks well bought, but for different reasons. In the case of the Ranchero, it looks solid from every angle and you could swap out the six-banger/three-speed manual for a fuel-injected 5.0-liter automatic-overdrive four-speed. Add a similar Vintage Air setup and you would have a wonderful cruiser that you could drive every day, likely getting around 25 mpg on the highway. And you could have it for far less than the sales price of the El Camino.

The El Camino was well bought for the opposite reason. If you look closely at the listing, especially the undercarriage, you'll know immediately that you would be hard-pressed to build a solid El Camino to the same standard for less than $50,000. Figuring $10,000 for a solid donor El Camino and you can see why I think that the El Camino was a bargain.

1971 Chevrolet K-10

Of all the trucks that sold in Chicago, the one that ticked off all the right investment boxes was another Chevy — a 1971 Chevrolet K-10 pickup (above) that brought $27,500. That's about what you would pay for a brand-new 2015 Silverado, but with one important difference: The minute you drive a new pickup away from the dealership it is worth at least 10 percent less than you paid for it. However, if you properly maintain and carefully drive the 1971 K-10, it will never be worth less than what you paid for it. And unless you were going to treat it like a truck, which would you rather drive? A brand-new Silverado or a classic, fully restored, indestructible K-10? I think you know what my answer would be.

Now that you have all the recent sales information as a guide, you can prepare yourself for the next Mecum auction, Nov. 13 to 15 in Anaheim, Calif. Here's my Anaheim "to-watch" list:

  • 1953 Ford F100 with a frame-off restoration
  • 1969 Chevrolet C10 pickup with an LS1 engine
  • 1957 Volkswagen crew cab with rotisserie restoration
  • 1957 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with a 4-year-old restoration (pictured below)
  • 1958 Chevrolet Apache pickup with potential

The 1953 F100 looks solid from bumper to bumper. Best of all, you won't find a small-block Chevy lurking under the hood. It's a 239-cubic-inch Ford flathead. I'm not sure that the seat upholstery looks correct but with a vast Ford truck aftermarket, if it's not right it's an easy fix.

The 1969 C10 with the more modern LS1 is a common swap, and this one's a wild card. I'd rather have the 1971 K-10 that sold in Chicago for $27,500, but that's just me. I'll be curious as to the final bid on this truck.

The Volkswagen crew cab won't be to everyone's taste, but with the upgraded 1,600-cubic-centimeter engine it should be able to cruise at freeway speeds. With the prices of Volkswagen window vans going into the stratosphere, it seems likely that the VW crew cab pickups will follow closely behind, especially ones like this example with a more powerful engine.

1957 Chevrolet Cameo

The rare Chevrolet Cameos (above) are already collectible so don't expect this one, a 1957 model, to be cheap. Check recent sales for guidance on where this will position itself. The 1958 Apache is an interesting counterpoint. It's a work in progress but like all things Bow Tie, there's a massive aftermarket that makes this one easy to take to the next level. It's a three-quarter-ton model with a six-cylinder. Resist the urge to drop in a crate motor.

The three earlier auctions should provide plenty of price guidance for those looking to purchase a vintage or classic truck. All this knowledge also gives you a great point of reference if you see something similar on eBay or Craigslist.

Happy hunting.

Mecum Auctions images


1963 Corvair Rampside

 1959 Dodge Utiline

1981 Jeep Scrambler

1961 Willys FC-150

1952 Chevrolet 3600

1953 Ford F100




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