$3.5 Million To Spend:<br/> What Would You Buy?
The List

Back in high school we had a game: What kind of car would you buy with $5,000? How about $50,000 or $500,000? The goal was to have the ideal car picked out at each price point, and it sparked many debates about what was faster, cooler or a destined to become a classic.

I know, we were nerds with nothing else to do, but you can’t help but play this game as you walk around the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. Using this premise, I decided to set an imaginary spending limit and come up with my own list. Sure, it’s an astronomical figure to normal folks like us, yet money like this changes hands every year at the auctions, so let’s dream a little.

The budget? $3.5 million.

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I started my spending spree with this Model A hot rod sitting on bias plies with a very cool tread pattern.

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The small block Chevy had finned valved covers and an Edelbrock manifold stuffed with six Holley carbs, all beautifully hardlined. The color-keyed paint on the inside of the scoops and block looked great too.

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The paint looked good and was listed as a ’46 Chrysler color. This was a tough looking hot rod, but finished to a high standard.

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The tall zombie shifter was a bit gaudy for my tastes, but I could change that once it was mine anyways. The rest of the interior consisted of riveted aluminum seats and a Pontiac gauge cluster.

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Finned drums hanging off a dropped and drilled axle sealed the deal. Consider it sold to my imagination for $72,600 including the 10 per cent buyer’s fee. In reality, I felt this was a pretty strong price for this car. I wouldn’t mind being on the selling end of a project like this.

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The Model A was definitely an attention getter, but I think this two-door Nova wagon actually excited me more. I just kept circling it, trying to recall ever seeing one. I hadn’t, because Chevrolet never made this model.

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It’s a conversion that someone spent a lot of time and money on, taking a four-door and turning it into a two-door post car in a factory-style manner. I had to have it.

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There was a slip on the dash with some cam profile information. I read the description taped to the window and realized it was built to L79 spec, with a period-correct Corvette drivetrain.

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I looked inside and… you’ve got to be kidding me! This thing has a Muncie 4-speed? SOLD!

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This one went way too cheap in my opinion, and I bet the seller cried himself to sleep that night. At only $24,200 it could have brought 10 times that if it was a real L79 Nova. Alas, the auction crowd only wants the real deal, leaving cool finds like this at bargain prices.

Bargains Everywhere
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Ten steps away was a monster Unimog, a very different vehicle that sent me into a tailspin just the same. These are cool enough stock, but just look at that ground clearance with 40-inch tires.

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The body looked to be in excellent condition, but you never know what lies beneath fresh paint either.

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The tubework and flatbed appeared to be custom work, but I’m not a Unimog expert either. It was definitely equipped to tackle any trail.

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The interior was also restored and in great shape. I was sure this would bring good money but it sold for only $15,950, making it a good buy to add onto my dream shopping list.

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It seemed like a great deal to me, but maybe a Unimog expert would see something horribly wrong with it. Or much worse, perhaps there just weren’t any off-road fans bidding that day, allowing what should have been a solid sale to slip away for next to nothing…

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A ’66 Mercury Comet isn’t a car I’d normally give a second look – I much prefer the prettier early ’60s models. But this one goes to show that the proper treatment can turn a car into something really special.

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It didn’t take much – a drop and some wheels, a little mesh and some stacks to make a killer-looking muscle machine.

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Dare I say it? I’m feeling a little bit of Hoonicorn influence creeping in here. I’m sure it’s coincidence, but it’s where my mind ran off to.

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To be honest, the front end is ugly and the wheels are all wrong, but it just sits so nice. I wanted to rip it down the street!

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The Comet brought a cool $50,600, bringing my total to $163,350. Hmm, I needed to find something expensive…

The Big Buy
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I bet some of you knew this was coming. The ’54 Pontiac Bonneville Special concept car is my favorite to ever roll across the block, and I’ve gotten to see it both times. You knew I was saving that $3 million for something, didn’t you?

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The Bonneville Special was so-named after Harley Earl was inspired by a trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats. It would be jet-age styling at its finest, created at a time when designers worked only in pencil and clay.

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The acrylic canopy has gullwing windows that hinge at the center and look like they’re straight off an aircraft.

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The interior is finished just as nicely as the exterior, with loads of trim and brightwork. Keep in mind this is one of two cars built in 1954, and everything was handcrafted.

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The brushed and chromed trim carries throughout. Many of the design features you see here reappeared on GM production models throughout the ’50s.

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Even the rear is shaped like a rocket. Oh, how I wish I could have been around to witness these optimistic days of automotive design.

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If you haven’t already heard, the ’54 Bonneville Special sold for $3.3 million, blowing the rest of my $3.5 million imaginary budget. It was worth every penny.

Want to play? Have a look at the results from Barrett Jackson Scottsdale and make your picks totaling $3.5 million, then post your dream list in the comments section below.

Keith Charvonia
Instagram: SpeedhuntersKeith
keith@speedhunters.com

Additional Photos by Justin Muir

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69 comments

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1

Keith I'm glad to see someone else is still playing that game. I do it all the time and I left school a long time ago! Great article mate.

2

Nice big house :P

3

I'll just have the Unimog

4

I'm pretty sure Voo Doo Larry's A brought the price tag it did because of the name and fame it's associated to, similar to Jimmy Shine's pickup.

5

3.5 mil? shit I don't know. mabye a few kenmeris / hakosukas. a few silvias here and there. lmao

6

I'm sorry, but you're going to have to explain how the wheels on that Mercury Comet are "all wrong". Never come across a situations where old-school Torq Thrusts were the wrong wheels for a muscle car.

7

Trentworth Those wheels give a huge muscular presence, and the body of the car cant support the look well

8
Speedhunters_Bryn

Ooh decisions, so there are some bargains to be had huh? I reckon that phantom Nova wagon was a steal. Love that. The Unimog is probably on the money in the US, I think the ones that command the cash usually have more original steel left. That said, I'd have spent that on it!

For a second I thought you'd bought the Futurliner, but that went for $4million on its own. Need to extend that budget!

9
turbo BEAMS ae86

PT Cruzer!!!

10

Gimmie that Nova - love me some hot-rod wagon action!

11

so I might be sounding stupid, but I can't tell what you bought, it was only the Bonneville right?

12

CharlesChris15 Trentworth They're run on almost every muscle car ever. They're like the Volk TE37 of the muscle car scene.

13

Definitely 275 GTB/4 or Lusso.

14

Citroen DS, BMW M235i, Tesla Model S, Facel-Vega HK500, a dilapidated old Voisin to turn into a sleeve-valve hot rod, a moderate house on a piece of land in the Oregon countryside, and a HondaJet.

15

05-06 Ford GT, new Ford GT, new Shelby GT350, 1970 Mach 1, and modify the crap out of my current 07 Mustang.  I'd spend the rest on racing lessons.  You can probably tell I'm a little biased ;)

16

What would I buy?

Any of these would be acceptable.

17

Eagle Speedster,Ruf 993 Turbo R,´67 Tri-Power Stingray,Aston Martin DBS,RS4 (B5) and still some money left

18

MrSOLOMON85 No, it's all the cars mentioned here. Four cheap (this is all relative of course) cars and one super-expensive one. They add up to less than $3.5m.

19

Trentworth I was referring more to the choice in size than the style.

20

Jjaeger240 Agreed. The price of the Jimmy Shine PU was outrageous though, something like $250k for it. I bet he was laughing all the way to the bank. I respect him and his little pickup though, it single-handedly made a huge influence on the rat rod movement, without really building a rat rod.

21

LouisSoon So responsible! :)

23

MSO 650s,
MSO P1,
Mugen CRZ
and a Pajero for Mrs Terrorist.
And maybe a ground up rebuilt DC5.
And a group A 96 VTI Civic.
Oh and a Renault five GTT.
rs200 kit car with a donor xr4x4i.....

24

Evo 8 MR FQ340, Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth, Ford RS200 Evo, Lancia Delta S4, Metro 6r4, Peugeot 205 T16, Renault 5 Turbo, Ford Focus RS Mk2, Mercedes 190e 2.5-16 Evo 2, Ford Escort Mk1 Bubble-Arch. That's just my top ten all time favourite cars.

25

@Erik M Yep, Lusso is the fist thing that came to mind.

26

Not enought money for a Lamborghini Veneno...
Since we are rolling on a budget, I would consider a Carrera GT with straight pipes for track days, a 2012 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale with a 'Jon Olsson style' ski box mounted on the roof as a daily driver and Recoil By Ring Brothers for show.

27

Glad to see I'm not the only one who plays this game!

28

I already own a 2000GT, AE86, Fairlady Z S60 and a R34 so I would add two Mazda FD a Keinmeri a Hakosuka, and a NSX build the hell out of them...and build my own supercar from my own design.

29

A zonda, just because. A Subaru 22b and a Makkinen edition Evo, have them stare it out in my garage. A F350 superduty slammed with many power mods because you just don't get them over here in the UK. A lead sled for those days I'm feeling baller, a Land Rover Defender 110 crewcab with a modern range rover engine swapped in and many off road mods. A mk1 mini cooper in A1 condition, a Lambretta LD150 with a matching Vespa VB. A G-nosed Datsun. A Golf mk1 GTI, and if I could find one for sale a 90's ex-supertouring car.

I'd find an excuse for every single one of them. Oh and a Mondeo estate diesel to absolutely ruin when I have to do shit journeys to the dump and long distances so I don't put too many miles on the other nicer motors.

30
Chris 'Haffy' Hafner

Nuff' said.

31

Surprised no one else said this

32

For simplicity I'll stick with bought not built

Suzuki Cappuccino
190e 2.5 evolution
ICON diesel fj40
64 ElCamino 283
BMW e38 740i
W116 300sd
Kaiser M715
All with 3 pedals of course. The list goes on but here is a sample. 

Tiny house with big garage

33

AlexLobanov Show me where you can buy one of these for $3.5m...! Rowan Atkinson's F1 has gone on the market for 8m GBP and its not an LM spec car either!

34

I'd buy 350 Reliant Robins

35

I want a Comet now..

36

Umm.. $ 3.5 million...probably Skylines of all generations, and an S30 240Z for good measures. The rest would go in acres of land and a big house like someone said

37

So the Bonneville Special sold for $3.3 million. Wouldn't be cheaper to just get corvette 57 chasis and copy cat the boneville special? Shit with $3.3 millions i would put a dam allyson turbine helicopter engine on the back to make the turbine theme for real and still woukd be cheaper.

38

Thanks for sharing this with us.............Nice information. For used Japanese Cars in London,UK
http://www.japancarimport.co.uk/


Cheers

39

- BMW M3 E30
- BMW M3 E46
- BMW M 235i
- Toyota Supra
- Laborghini Murcielago SV
- Aston Martin Vanquish
- Pagani Huayra
- McLaren P1

40

An alfa Romeo 4c, A ferrari Italia 458 speciale , an alfa romeo 147 gta v6 as a daily driver , A properly restored 4age swap kp61 , A porsche 930 And a Lancia Delta integrale evoluzione 2 , I would also buy a ae86 to mess with on track days and a Honda civic ek9 type r for the same purpose... I think I have some budget left so how about building my own racetrack to enjoy all these beauties ???

41

KeithCharvonia Well if that's the case, I'll agree the car would have looked better with a little more sidewall on those tyres, especially given the style of the body.

42

FunctionFirst CharlesChris15 Too true, they work on pretty much anything. Kinda like the olg Cragar 610 series or the NASCAR style steelies. I've seen nascar steelies on an S30 and they still looked cool.

43

3.5 million US dollar ?
I want that Model A hot rod , but in White/Black color scheme , with like 10 Toyota(s) , and a house .

44

RDS You should have some money left for a repaint on the Model A. :)

45

PMalavasil Sounds like a nicely stocked garage.

46

I wish I would have asked you guys to post prices of each, or better yet shop from the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale listings! Next time...

47

EhruMejil Cheaper sure, but that's missing the point of owning a 1 of 2 car that's special to automotive history.

48

Spaghetti Please post the $3.5m Robins. I have to see this.

50

Chris 'Haffy' Hafner Gotta have the matching set of course.

51

EhruMejil Nice collection

52

Taryn Croucher We all have the same sickness. :)

53

It might be cause I never been a fan of american cars or cause I just see a modified corvette in essence.

54

An RTR X would be the first priority :P
The 2015 Mustang
A gt40
An f150 Raptor
The Ferrari that is as old as myself is also a must the f50 gt
also an F40
Porsche 911 targa 1978
Porsche 356 coupe
A Hakosuka
A Dat 240z
2010 Mercedes Benz S class
A c63 amg black series
and the latest Sls amg
A Ducati Street fighter
An Agusta MV
Also A 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ for the classy look at formal parties
if any of the money is left i'll buy a gas station (if possible cause imma need alotta gas :P although im sure i wont be able to buy all of em in 3.5 million specially considering the fact that there is a Duesenberg and an f50 gt on the list :P )

55

Thanks! How about a feature post of the cars I already own...im sure you guys will like it.

56

Iz_Haider_K You'll also need a small team of mechanics and detailers to maintain that fleet!

57

oh, or I could save it, until a Touring Disco Volante comes up for sale.

58

GT40 replica
Ford GT
New Ford GT
R32 Skyline W/400 hp
R35
Evo 8 W/400 hp
Factory Five GTM 
2015 ZO6 Vette
240Z W/LS1
240Z W/R35 AWD 
XJ-13 Replica
917 Porsche Replica

59

I'd bid on any no reserves and low bids.  Try out some stuff I'm not into.
Def buy a bunch of bikes - easier to store.
Oh and I'd out bid you on that Mog...

60

Pagani ZondaR carbon, Ferrari 458, Aerial Atom turbo K20, trailer, a nice shop, a nice beemer for a daily and with any money left over I'd build a drift car with a sic 2jz!! lol

61

1965 GT350R
1993 Cobra R
1995 Cobra R
2000 Cobra R
2016 GT350R
And spend the remaining 2.25

62

Hahaha obviously but i'd rather be happy to do all that myself still need a helping hand tho
also i forgot bae (bizzarrini strada)

63

- P1 in that dark purple colour
- 918 spyder
- koenigsegg One:1
- koenigsegg Agera R
- Gembella Mirage GT
- New NSX
- GTR R35 Spec-V
- GTR with the HKS GT1000 kit
- Garage Mak S15
- Autoselect R34
- LFA

64

Iz_Haider_K if you dont mind me asking why a 1978 targa? we have a 77 targa and not alot of people like the targas

65

Are you ready?
Daily - 1993 Nissan A31 Cefiro, SR20DET and 6MT.
Weekend - 1971 Nissan Skyline 2000-GTR, mint original condition
Drag - 71 Datsun 510, fully built RB30T, stripped and fiberglass bodied
Drift - 1993 Nissan Silvia S13 SR30DET, sequential 6 speed and Gen2 Rocket Bunny kit
Track days - 1993 Nissan Skyline R32 GTR, stripped and built RB26DETT
Time attack - 1999 Nissan Skyline R34 GTR, pretty much the same spec as Steve Ka's.
Rally - 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX MR, stripped, built and wide-bodied
Rock crawler - 1993 Nissan Patrol GQ ST 4.2TD
4x4 - 1999 Nissan Patrol GU ST
And of course a large variety of motorcycles.
Let's say I've thought this out...

66

And
Competition drift - 1999 Nissan Silvia S15 with a built SR22DET, stripped and Vertex Ridge widebody
And of course a 1999 Nissan Stagea WCN34 with a RB26DETT and R34 front end for the missus.

67

Gimmie that Nova - love me some hot-rod wagon action!
---
signature: http://www.juegoskizis.com/ | http://www.juegoskizifriv.net/

68

No, but it has had a recent full "restoration"..... ;)

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