There’s a lot of cool old iron about to cross the stage at Barrett-Jackson’s fifth annual Las Vegas Collector Car Auction from Sept. 20-22 at Mandalay Bay. Personally, I’d love to have the means to snag the 1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird that’s up for sale. Like guys of a certain age everywhere, I’m drawn to the cars of my youth, and the first car I owned was a 1970 Dodge Charger with a 383-cubic-inch engine and a pistol-grip shifter. It was a ridiculous car for a 15-year-old, but Mom approved the purchase because I saved the money from my paper route (remember those?) and planned to rebuild the engine in high school auto shop class (remember that?). She thought I’d learn a trade and become a useful member of society. I went into journalism instead.
The Superbird will fetch huge money—Barrett-Jackson doesn’t put pre-sale estimates on its cars, but it will be somewhere in six figures. What’ll be interesting to watch is exactly how high it goes. The muscle-car market took a major hit when the real estate bubble burst. After 2007, guys of a certain age no longer had home-equity cash to buy back their youth. Car values sank like the gas gauge on my old Charger. Prices have since stabilized—not to the point where a kid could buy a muscle car with paper-route money, but a lot cheaper than in 2006. Will Las Vegas 2012 go down as the point at which prices start to climb again? This weekend will tell.