About Trevor Freeman

Trevor is a real gearhead who loves everything from classic American muscle cars to high-performance exotics. When he's not reading about cars or taking photos at a car show, he's probably out cruising around. He is currently working on restoring a 1980 Chevrolet Monza hatchback.

RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale 2019 Auction Results

While collector car auctions like Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele capture much of the media spotlight during Arizona Car Week, there are other auctions like RM Sotheby’s that cater to the true enthusiast. Though their catalog is much smaller at around 200 vehicles, I find that RM Sotheby’s offers a wide variety of classic and contemporary cars, each one of which is truly outstanding.

The following are some personal highlights of cars I spotted at their 2019 Scottsdale Auction, held at the prestigious Arizona Biltmore Resort. While I would love to do a feature on every car in their catalog, time simply does not allow such a luxury. I have chosen some of the cars that I feel represent the quality and selection one would find at an RM Sotheby’s event.

Lot #273 – 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Speciale by Pininfarina

Every Ferrari is special, but this one is really something to write home about! This 1957 250 GT Speciale is a one-off custom bodied car by Pininfarina that was built for Lilian, Princess of Réthy, the royal lady of Belgium. The car was appraised at $11 to $13,000,000 by experts, but it did not meet the reserve price, with the highest bid received of $7,500,000 according to Hagerty.

Lot #243 – 1948 Tucker 48

The Tucker 48 is today appreciated as an automobile that was far ahead of its time. Just 51 cars were ever built before production ended. RM Sotheby’s is no stranger to Tuckers. They sold chassis no. 44, the legendary Ohio barn find car, at the Scottsdale 2017 auction for $1,347,500. Chassis no. 29, Preston Tucker’s personal car, crossed RM’s auction block in 2018 for a handsome $1,792,500. Now in 2019, chassis no. 40, a beautifully restored blue car (shown above) sold for $1,600,000 (including buyer’s premium).

Lot #144 – 2017 Ferrari F12tdf

The F12tdf is a limited production car, 1 of just 799 produced. With 769 horsepower from a 6.3L V12 naturally aspirated engine, this is the sort of car that becomes an instant collectible. This car is finished in Grigio Titanio and has fewer than 300 miles on the odometer. It sold for $1,006,000 (including buyer’s fee).

Lot #141 – 2012 Lexus LFA Nurburgring Package

The only Lexus supercar to date, the LFA is one of just 500 produced worldwide. Of those, just 50 units received the Nurburgring package. This one, #485, has just 54 miles on the odometer and is finished in white with a red and white leather interior. The V10 powered supercar sold for $885,000 (including buyer’s premium). A few days after this sale, a black LFA Nurburgring (#301) sold for $918,500 (including buyer’s premium) at Barrett-Jackson.

Lot #153 – 1993 Vector Avtech WX-3 Prototype

An unbelievable pair of supercars were offered for sale at RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale 2019 auction: a pair of Vector automobiles from the personal collection of founder Jerry Wiegart. Both the WX-3 Coupe Prototype and the WX-3R Roadster Prototype were shown at the 1993 Geneva Motor Show. The American-built supercars feature wild bodywork and a twin-turbo 7.0L V8 engine producing a staggering 1,000 horsepower. The car sold for $615,500 to Florida businessman and supercar enthusiast Kris Singh (@lamborghiniks).

Lot #152 – 1993 Vector Avtech WX-3R Roadster Prototype

The Roadster version of Wiegart’s Vector is even more wild than the Coupe, with its amethyst purple color and wrap around glass. The car was purchased by Kris Singh for $500,000.

Lot #160 – 1993 Jaguar XJ220

An extraordinarily rare number of people are privileged to own an XJ220, and this car is just 1 of 275 built. This particular car, finished in Silverstone green, was originally purchased by Tom Walkinshaw for his personal collection. The car has just 9,000km since new. The car had an estimate of $400,000 to $500,000, but failed to sell when bidding peaked at $375,000 as reported by Automobile Magazine.

Lot #154 – 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta

The current “Halo Car” from Ferrari, the LaFerrari Aperta is 1 of 210 Aperta models produced. With a combined 789 horsepower from a V12 engine and a mild hybrid electric motor, the car has a top speed of 217 mph. Appraised at $6,500,000 to $8,500,000, the car did not meet the reserve price with the high bid placed at $5,500,000.

Lot #149 – 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

The Ferrari 288 GTO (Gran Turismo Omologato) is a street-legal version of a racing car that was sold in order to meet homologation requirements for racing. Just 272 examples were built, making it the rarest of Ferrari’s modern supercars (along with the F40, F50, Enzo, and LaFerrari). This outstanding example with fewer than 2,900 miles since new sold for $3,360,000, making it the top seller at RM Sotheby’s 2019 Scottsdale auction. According to Hagerty, this is the highest price ever paid for a 288 GTO at a North American auction and 24 percent above the Hagerty Price Guide #1 value.


Not Sold Here: 1990 Toyota Sera with Super Live Sound System (SLSS)

Welcome to Not Sold Here, the series where we look at interesting cars which were never sold in the United States market, but have made their way to American soil. Today’s feature car is a 1990 Toyota Sera, a sporty, compact car from Japan. About 15,941 vehicles were produced during the five year production run from 1990 through 1995. All models were equipped with a 1.5L engine producing 110 horsepower and 98 ft-lbs of torque, with either a 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual available. The Sera is noted for its numerous unusual features and options.

The most prominent feature of the Sera is its butterfly hinge doors, which open outward and upward instead of in the conventional fashion. Gordon Murray, designer of the legendary McLaren F1, credited the Sera as his inspiration for the F1’s similar styled butterfly doors. The three-door hatchback has seating for four, though the backseat is quite small.

Another unusual feature of this particular Sera is its paint color. The car was offered in 11 different colors. There were of course standard colors such as black, gray, red, and blue, but there were also less traditional colors like turquoise blue, burnt orange, and greenish yellow, which is what this car has. I really couldn’t imagine a color like this selling well in the U.S. market.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Sera is its optional sound system, which this car has. Toyota’s “Super Live Sound System” replaced the standard stereo with a 10-speaker system connected to a Digital Sound Processor (DSP). The complete system features 3 in-dash tweeters, 2 door speakers, 2 more tweeters and 2 cone speakers mounted in the rear deck, and a 70cm (4.7″) subwoofer in the trunk. A series of power amplifiers delivered 30 watts to each channel, with 36 watts to the subwoofer. A single DIN stereo incorporated an AM/FM tuner with CD player. While these metrics seem tame by today’s standards, they would have been impressive in 1990.

The system has two modes, “Casual” and “Funky” which alters the sound profile. The angle of the rear speakers is actually changed via a small motor, which causes the sound to project into the car or bounce off the rear window glass. They rotate inside the plastic housing, in just 2 seconds. The housing was designed to withstand the vibration and temperature changes associated with being on the road.

Toyota engineers developed the system to create “presence” and “depth” that could not be obtained with conventional car audio equipment. It simulates the feeling of being at a live concert, which Toyota hoped would make the car more appealing to young people.

According to Wikipedia, a functioning SLSS audio system is one of the most desirable of the Sera’s many options. This car sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2019 auction for $14,300 US (including buyer’s premium).

While it may not look as flashy as a Corvette or many of the other cars sold at the auction, the Sera is an automotive curiosity with some very unique options that I think makes it quite interesting.

1969-1974 Iso Rivolta Lele

When thinking about Italian cars, brands such as Ferrari and Lamborghini probably come to mind. But there are many, many others – Maserati, Fiat, Lancia, Abarth, Alfa Romeo, to name several. But there are also the lesser-known Italian marques like DeTomaso, Intermeccanica, and Iso.

Today’s post is about that last one – Iso. Founded in 1939, they made cars and motorcycles in Italy through 1974 when the company went bankrupt. I have previously written about the Iso Rivolta Fidia S4, which was briefly the world’s fastest 4-door car when it was introduced in the late 1960s. Around the same time, Iso was also manufacturing this car, the Lele. With its 2+2 layout, it would likely have been a competitor to the Lamborghini Espada, another Grand Tourer. The Lele was one of the last models that Iso made before shutting down production entirely.

I stumbled across this car at the Barrett-Jackson 2019 collector car auction in Scottsdale. Funny enough, the car was not part of the auction, but rather parked outside in the parking lot! It’s not often that I see a car I cannot identify, and I thought at first it might have been another Lamborghini Islero, as they have quite similar body lines. With no visible badging, I went in for a closer look. The only emblem was a small Iso Rivolta badge on the hood.
These are extraordinarily rare cars, with only 285 produced during the five year production run. The chances of simply happening upon one in a random parking lot are unbelievable! After some research online, I learned that the cars came with either small block Chevy or Ford engines. I am not sure which engine this car has, though the split is pretty even with 125 of them being Chevy powered and 160 of them Ford powered.

The Hagerty price guide places the value on these cars at about $30,000 in Fair condition to $70,000 in Concours condition. For those who dream of owning an Italian sports car but with a Ford or Chevy budget, the Lele may be a great alternative to the more common Italian brands. I think it is a super neat car and would love to own one!

Barrett-Jackson Top Selling Cars 2019 Scottsdale

The 48th Annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auction took place from January 12 through January 20th, 2019 at Westworld in Scottsdale, Arizona. The no-reserve auction featured a record number 1,818 collector cars for sale. Below is a listing of the top 10 most expensive car sales from the 2019 Scottsdale auction:

This 2019 McLaren Senna (Lot #1405) was the top seller at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2019 auction, where it sold for $1,457,500 (including buyer’s premium). The car features a 4.0L twin turbo V8 engine producing 789 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 2.8 seconds. The car is chassis #005 of 500 built, and is 1 of approximately 120 in the United States.

The 2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6 (Lot #1410) is an ultra-rare vehicle, one of approximately 100 produced worldwide. The sport-utility truck is enormous in every measure and sold for $1,210,000.

This 2012 Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition (Lot #1412) is one of 500 cars produced, and 1 of 50 with the special Nurburgring package. It features a 4.8L V10 engine producing 562 horsepower with a 9,000 rpm redline. The car sold for a record-setting $918,500.

The 2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo (Lot #1415) is an extremely limited production supercar built in America by Saleen Automotive. Powered by a twin turbocharged 7.0L Ford V8 engine, this 750 hp car boasts world class acceleration, handling, and braking. This car is a rare low mileage example, with just 240 miles on the odometer. It sold for $550,000 ($687,500) including buyer’s premium.

In the list of top-selling cars for 2019, spots 5, 6, and 7 belong to these three Heritage Edition Ford GTs.

5. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition – 3,092 actual miles (Lot #1313) – $533,500
6. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition – 288 actual miles (Lot #1376) – $495,000
7. 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition – 77 actual miles (Lot #1406) – $462,000

Two cars tied for 8th place with the same hammer price of $385,000. They are:

8. 1967 Ford Mustang Custom Fastback “Gone In 60 Seconds” Eleanor (Lot #1437) $385,000
8. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-window Resto-Mod Coupe (Lot #1333) – $385,000

9th place was another tie, with these two cars selling for $363,000 each.

9. 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS (Lot #1409) – $363,000
9. 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Custom Convertible (Lot #1371) – $363,000

The 10th most expensive car sold at the 2019 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction was this 2001 Lamborghini Diablo VT (Lot #1416). It wears a beautiful Monterey Blue over tan leather with Lamborghini’s signature 6.0L V12 engine providing ample power and performance.

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2019 Summary

Every year in January, I find myself wondering how Barrett-Jackson is going to top their recent Scottsdale collector car auction in the upcoming year. And somehow they do, time after time. The 2019 auction saw higher numbers across the board – more cars sold, more sales, and more money raised for charity than last year.

While most people think of Barrett-Jackson as a car auction, they also sell a lot of memorabilia – vintage gas pumps, signs, and various other items. This year, the Scottsdale auction brought in more than $118 million from auto sales, $4.05 million from automotive memorabilia, and more than $9.6 million in charity auctions, bringing the total auction sales to more than $131.6 million.

In the memorabilia category, more than 1,500 lots were sold, with the top seller (Lot #9499) a full size carousel from 1962 fetching $506,000.

In the automotive category, the auction sold 1,817 of their 1,818 lots for a 99.74% sell-through rate. The average sale price of all automotive lots was $69,571. The top 10 lots were as follows:

  • 2019 McLaren Senna (Lot #1405) – $1,457,500
  • 2014 Mercedes-Benz G63 6X6 (Lot #1410) – $1,210,000
  • 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition (Lot #1412) – $918,500
  • 2005 Saleen S7 Twin Turbo (Lot #1415) – $550,000
  • 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition – 3,092 actual miles (Lot #1313) – $533,500
  • 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition – 288 actual miles (Lot #1376) – $495,000
  • 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition – 77 actual miles (Lot #1406) – $462,000
  • 1967 Ford Mustang Custom Fastback “Gone In 60 Seconds” Eleanor (Lot #1437) – $385,000 / 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-window Resto-Mod Coupe (Lot #1333) – $385,000
  • 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS (Lot #1409) – $363,000 / 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air Custom Convertible (Lot #1371) – $363,000
  • 2001 Lamborghini Diablo VT (Lot #1416) – $352,000

But it’s not just about big sales for supercars and resto-mods. Barrett-Jackson does a lot for charitable causes as well. The 2019 Scottsdale auction featured 16 special charity auctions which raised $9.6 million – more than any single year in the company’s 48 year history.

Top charitable auctions included:

  • 2019 Ford GT Heritage Edition VIN 001 (Lot #3012) – $2,500,000 benefiting United Way for Southeastern Michigan
  • 2018 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet (Lot #3011) – $200,000 benefiting Fighter Country Foundation at Luke Force Air Force Base
  • 2020 Toyota Supra – First Production VIN 20201 (Lot #3010) – $2,100,000 benefiting the American Heart Association and The Bob Woodruff Foundation
  • Chevrolet Bumblebee Camaro Collection (Lot #3009), (Lot #3009.1), (Lot #3009.2) (Lot #3009.3) – $525,000 benefiting Operation Homefront
  • 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 VIN 001 (Lot #3008) – $1,100,000 benefiting JDRF
  • Jeff Gordon’s 2016 Corvette C7.R (Lot #3007) – $600,000 benefiting the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation
  • 2015 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R (Lot #3006) – $500,000 benefiting the Petersen Automotive and Henry Ford Museums
  • 1981 Jeep CJ7 Custom SUV (Lot #3005) – $1,310,000 benefiting the Gary Sinise Foundation
  • 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Custom Coupe (Lot 3004) – $165,000 benefiting Childhelp Through SEMA Cares purchased by singer/songwriter Ray J
  • 2018 Ford Fusion NASCAR Race Car (Lot #3003) – $300,000 benefiting Shriners Hospitals for Children

2019 Auction Trends

As you can see from the top sales, supercars and other limited-production vehicles remain in high demand. The market for the 2004-2006 Ford GT vehicles is red hot, with eight of the 4,038 cars built sold at the Scottsdale auction. Low-mileage examples and special options like the Heritage Edition package set record-breaking prices, with the top car (Lot #1313) selling for more than half a million dollars.

To no one’s surprise, Chevrolet Corvettes continue to dominate the auction catalog, with more than 100 different vehicles from all eras offered for sale. Early Corvettes (1953-1962) fetched the highest prices, with numerous examples selling in the high $200,000s and two cars (Lot #1451.1 and Lot #1440) both selling for $330,000.

One thing that surprised me about the Scottsdale 2019 auction was the vast number of 2003 and up Bentley Continental GT models for sale. I’ve been attending the Barrett-Jackson auction for well over a decade and have never seen so many Bentleys as I did at the 2019 auction. For some reason, Bentley owners all decided to part with their cars this year, creating a real buyer’s market for these cars.

In fact, I actually researched Barrett-Jackson’s auction catalog going back 10 years and created this chart of 2003+ Bentley models offered for sale by year. 2019 was the highest ever, with 24 vehicles offered for sale. The average sale price for an 03+ Continental GT was $73,327, while the cheapest example (Lot #1552.1) went for just $33,000.

2019 was another record-breaking year for Barrett-Jackson, and I cannot wait to see how they top this year’s excitement again next year. I am confident that they will continue to do so as they approach their milestone 50th year in 2021.

2009 Corvette GT1 Championship Edition

There is no shortage of Special Edition Corvettes out there in the world. Everything from Anniversary editions to special trim packages, paint colors, and more means that there are lots of desirable combinations for car collectors. At the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2019 auction, I happened across a Special Edition Corvette that I had not heard of before. The GT1 Championship Edition Corvette was a special option package offered in 2009.

The GT1 Corvette started with a C6 Corvette 4LT, a fully optioned model with all the amenities such as Premium Stereo, Memory Seats, and a Heads Up Display. In addition, the GT1 package added the following special items:

  • Forged Chrome Aluminum Wheels
  • Z51 Performance Package (Large cross-drilled brake rotors, performance tires, stabilizer bars, springs, shocks, and gear ratios)
  • Dual-mode performance exhaust
  • ZR1 body-colored spoiler
  • Graphics inspired by C6.R Racing Livery
  • Driver Flags on Roof
  • Ebony Custom Leather Trim
  • Exclusive Yellow Stitching on Seats and Interior
  • GT1 Embroidery on Seats, Center Console, and Instrument Panel
  • Lower Door Script with GT1 Championships
  • Black Headlamps
  • Carbon Pattern Engine Cover
  • Specific VIN Sequence

The cost of the GT1 package added nearly $8,000 to the price of the car, making this a premium car aimed at collectors and true enthusiasts. The car could be ordered as a Coupe, Convertible, or Z06 model with black or velocity yellow as the only color choices available. A total of 600 GT1 Corvettes were produced in 2009 – that is 100 of each body style and color combination.

The car I saw at Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2019 auction was a black coupe, and is the first of only 24 black coupes produced with the GT1 package.

Ten years ago, the car’s MSRP was $64,460 and this one had another $3,000 worth of options including the Navigation system and 6-speed paddle shift automatic transmission, pushing the final price to $68,310. During the past decade, the car has accumulated just 3,851 actual miles – a real low mileage gem!

The car sold at the auction for $34,100 (including the buyer’s premium). For reference, the Kelly Blue Book value of a similar car with the same options and mileage is valued at $25 to $28,000. While it may seem high compared to private party, I bet that the value on a regular Corvette will continue to depreciate, while this one will be an investment. With such limited production, I believe these cars will be much more desirable in the future. Whoever bought this one for $34k got a great deal, in my opinion.

Movie Cars Bring Excitement to Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2019

You may not be a celebrity, but you sure can feel like one in one of these movie cars! Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale 2019 collector car auction is just weeks away. Browsing through the catalog, I noticed a number of interesting vehicles that have been featured in movies and television shows, as well as some tributes and re-creations of famous cars.

Each of these cars will be auctioned off in Scottsdale, Arizona starting January 12, 2019.


Excellent! This 1977 AMC Pacer “Wayne’s World” re-creation retains its original drivetrain and includes correct mismatched wheels and hubcaps, and 1992 “Wayne’s World” memorabilia.


This custom 1989 Jeep Cherokee was built in a “Jurassic Park” theme for promotional use when the movie debuted, but was never used. It was instead used as a daily driver by the builder. This Jeep is powered by a 4.0-liter EFI engine backed by an automatic transmission. It’s loaded with all power options, including the sunroof, oversized wheels and tires, 4-wheel drive, winch bumper and a 14” widened body. All of the “Jurassic Park” logos are still in place.


When Knight Rider debuted on NBC in 1982, David Hasselhoff and KITT became a big hit. Possibly inspired by the success of Knight Rider and other detective shows like Columbo, Kojack, and Matlock, NBC put together a show called B.L. Stryker which debuted in 1989. The series starred Burt Reynolds and ran for just two seasons.

This 1988 Pegasus was built for two episodes of the 1989 television series “BL Stryker” starring Burt Reynolds and filmed in Palm Beach, FL. Co-director Hal Needham ordered two of these cars for the show. This one is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine backed by an automatic transmission.


This 1968 Ford Econoline van underwent a body-on restoration and is styled after the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo. It is finished in the correct movie exterior color combination along with the Mystery Machine livery. The interior is a custom blue, green and orange movie-style look and is complete with a Ghost Finder instrument panel. It is powered by a factory 302ci V8 engine mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission.


This custom-made VW bus was made specifically for the 1996 movie “Sunchaser” starring Woody Harrelson, and is still in movie condition. The look and feel of this bus was created by artists for the desert scene where Woody’s character is stranded and is picked up by a hippie character, who saves him. It’s powered by a 4-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission.


This Mercedes-Benz 300TE Station Wagon was purchased new by Shirley Temple-Black in 1989. Shirley Temple was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, and she appeared in dozens of movies. She has a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and she remains an American film icon today.

Not only was she known for her work on the silver screen, but also as a United States ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. This vehicle was her actual diplomat vehicle and still has the Czech flag receptacle installed on the fender. This Mercedes has its original paint and bodywork, and is powered by a 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder engine offering 217hp, backed by an automatic transmission. It’s equipped with 4-wheel power-assisted hydraulic disc brakes with ABS. It is well-optioned with a tan interior, air conditioning, sunroof, power seats, power doors and power locks.

An unusual option is the electric rear window shade. It is also equipped with the optional Acceleration Slip Control for secure traction. This car was in Mrs. Temple-Black’s care until her passing in 2014. Included with the car are copies of the registration documents in Shirley Temple’s name.


This custom pickup was previously owned by, and built for, actor Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis had the truck built in the early 1990s. Bruce sold the truck in November 2014 to a friend in Santa Monica, CA, and it was then sold and moved to Alberta, Canada. This truck is equipped with a 350ci 8-cylinder engine, 4-speed manual transmission, headers, high rise intake with Holley carburetor, dual exhaust, Nova front clip with power disc brakes, Nova rear differential with drum brakes. The custom interior features leather power seats and air conditioning.


Note: This is not the actual auction car. Image from IMCDB.

This was one of three Firebird Formulas provided by Pontiac Motor Division to the TV show “The Rockford Files,” and was used from 1978 until the series ended in 1980. With a special Solar Gold exterior and tan interior, the factory Formula 400 model was modified to look like an Esprit for the show. This car was the sound car, used for close-ups while driving, and still has the original mic box, holes drilled to run recording wiring, and a skid plate to protect the engine and transmission from damage during stunts.

It’s powered by a 6.6-liter V8 engine mated to an automatic transmission, and features air conditioning and Rally gauges, as well as power windows, steering and brakes. This car, which was purchased by actor James Garner at the conclusion of the series and driven by him until May 1981, was the only one used in the show that had power windows and an AM/FM radio. It was recently frame-on restored by noted Pontiac restorer Mike Flaherty and presents just as it would be to start a season of filming “The Rockford Files.”

Included is a copy of the dealer invoice showing the car was delivered to Pontiac Motor Division in Sherman Oaks, CA (the location Vista Group/Product Placement used to get their vehicles from GM), as well as a letter from James Garner’s production company identifying the car as an actual screen-used Firebird Formula 400, and that he drove this car during the filming of “The Rockford Files.”


This is one of the original cars from the movie “Gone in 60 Seconds.” This car was used in the street scenes in the movie, and comes with a Certificate of Authenticity from Cinema Vehicle Services signed by Ray Claridge, President of Cinema Vehicle Services. Also included is license plate that was on the car in the movie. This Mustang is powered by a 351ci Ford Motorsport crate engine mated to a 3-speed automatic transmission and is equipped with Total Control suspension.

Not Sold Here: Honda Beat

In today’s edition of Not Sold Here, we are featuring the Honda Beat. The Beat is a special class of super small vehicles for which there is no equivalent in the United States. Smaller than a subcompact, these cars are often called “kei cars” in Japan. I featured another Japanese vehicle, the Subaru Microvan, a few years ago. The difference is that the Subaru was actually imported to the U.S. while the Honda Beat was not.

I ran across this Honda Beat at the monthly Cars and Coffee gathering in Scottsdale. It is unbelievably small in person. Although it’s hard to visualize, the Honda Beat is nearly 10 inches narrower and 400 lbs lighter than the original Mazda Miata. It really is like a street legal go-kart. The philosophy behind these kei cars is to have small, efficient transportation for the narrow streets and crowded cities of Japan. As such, they were not designed to be particularly sporty. The inline 3-cylinder engine displaces 656 cc (40.0 cubic inches) and puts out a whopping 63 horsepower. The Honda Beat was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission.

There is a law in the United States that allows vehicles 25 years or older to be imported and driven on the roads, even though the vehicles do not meet US Federal crash test standards. This “show and display” law is the reason why you might be seeing more R32 Skylines and other right-hand drive Japanese vehicles at your favorite car shows. It is very likely that this Honda was imported under that same law.

About 34,000 of these cars were built during the production run from 1991 to 1996. It is unknown how many of them have made it to the U.S., but I’m certain the number is quite small. The car drew a huge number of curious onlookers at the show – much more than some of the brand new exotics and supercars that cost many times what this vehicle is worth.

This is a very unique car and I’m glad to have run across it at the Saturday Motorsports Gathering put on by Scuderia Southwest.