- • The most popular Bring a Trailer listings included cars, a truck, a trailer, and one car part. Like Car and Driver, Bring a Trailer is owned by Hearst Autos.
- • The auction sales that received the most clicks didn’t exactly track those that received the most comments, but the three most-commented-on sales do appear on this list.
- • After attracting tons of eyeballs, eight of these 10 listings sold (some for astounding prices), but two did not meet their reserve.
Bring a Trailer conducted more than 20,000 auctions in 2021, and many of those received an outsized amount of attention, either because they were picked up by other outlets, shared extensively on social media, or simply due to the interesting nature of the subject vehicle. To measure the most popular, we looked at page views, although one also could look at the number of comments, the number of bids, or the sales price as a proxy for popularity. In any event, at this writing with still a few selling days to go in 2021, these were the most popular Bring a Trailer auctions of the year.
1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 4-Speed
The L88 is a monster among late-’60s Corvettes (spanning the C2 and C3 generations), bristling with all manner of go-fast equipment. In this final-year model, that includes a 427-cubic-inch V-8 with aluminum heads, a 12.0:1 compression ratio, a performance camshaft, and a four-barrel Holley carburetor, which is mated to an M22 Muncie four-speed and a 4.11:1 Positraction rear axle. The purpose-built L88 could not be had with power steering, air conditioning, or a radio, and only 216 were made over three years. Add the excitement of a no-reserve sale, and it’s no wonder Corvette aficionados and muscle-car fans of all stripes clicked heavily on this listing. Not only did it get nearly 158,700 page views, but this auction also received more than 1000 comments, making it the second-most-talked-about BaT listing this year. The net result was a selling price of $610,000.
4K-Mile 1980 BMW M1 AHG
Any BMW M1 is a rare and interesting car, but this 1980 M1 had a couple of additional things going for it. First, it was modified by AHG, a BMW dealer in Bielefeld, Germany, that developed an appearance and performance package for the M1. It increased the output of the mid-mounted 3.5-liter inline-six and added a body kit and a BMW Motorsport livery. Additionally, this M1 has some Paul Walker history; it was previously part of his jointly owned collection. Those factors helped it reach 161,000 page views. Even so, the selling price of $500,000 could be considered a slight bargain. Another M1 sold six months later for $561,000.
4-Speed Transaxle from James Dean’s 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
Celebrity can be a powerful thing, and nowhere in the collector-car sphere was that better illustrated than in the sale of this piece of memorabilia, the transaxle salvaged from James Dean’s wrecked 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. What can we say, when this car part—touched by both celebrity and tragedy—changed hands for $382,000? Well, BaT commenters had plenty to say. This auction’s 1354 comments made it far and away the most-talked-about BaT sale this year.
23K-Mile 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo
Front-engine Porsches have been getting more attention lately, and this sharp-looking 1986 944 Turbo turned a fair number of heads, with its January 2021 auction netting nearly 175,000 page views. Hailing originally from Schenectady, New York, it remained with its first owner until last year. We dig the phone-dial wheels, and the low miles are obviously appealing. The whole package appealed more to the seller than it did to the bidders, however, as the high bid of $39,000 did not meet reserve.
1979 International Harvester Super Scout II Midas Edition
Vintage SUVs certainly have been hot this year, so it’s perhaps no surprise that this ’79 International Scout was among the most viewed BaT auctions for 2021. That’s doubly true given this Scout’s head-turning livery. At the height of the custom-van craze, International Harvester partnered with the Midas Van Conversion Company to work some of its magic on the Scout II, and the blue-and-white graphics seen here are one result of that effort. Upping this Scout’s attitude still further, it features a two-inch lift, rolls on white-painted Cragar wagon wheels with 32-inch tires, and is shown sans top (a soft top is included) and with the doors removed (with inserts in their place). Still, the high bid of $46,000 wasn’t enough to meet reserve, so this bad boy is reportedly headed to Barrett-Jackson.
1984 Lamborghini Jalpa
We don’t typically think of the Lamborghini Jalpa as a car that sets the internet ablaze, but this bright-red 1984 example ended up being one of the most clicked BaT auctions this year. The Jalpa is an often overlooked Lambo that was sold from 1981 to 1988. It features a mid-mounted quad-cam 3.5-liter V-8 with a quartet of Weber carburetors. It’s paired with a five-speed manual transaxle with a gated shifter. This Jalpa sold for $80,808 back in January, which was a strong result, but it was exceeded in September by a 1987 Jalpa that brought $93,000.
Midnight Purple II 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec
This R34 Skyline GT-R in top V-Spec trim and wearing the desirable factory hue of Midnight Purple II has racked up more than 211,000 page views since its appearance on BaT in June. The R34-gen Skyline, never sold in the United States, was powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.6-liter inline-six that was factory-rated at 276 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, although it’s widely thought to produce more. The technology-laden GT-R also features a six-speed manual gearbox, ATTESA all-wheel drive, and HICAS rear-wheel steering, with the V-Spec adding an electronically controlled active rear differential. Imported to the United States under the DOT’s “show or display” exemption, this GT-R sold for $315,187, just beating out another Midnight Purple II R34 GT-R that sold for $310,00 a month later.
800-Mile 2005 Spyker C8 Spyder
In most places, you don’t run across a Spyker every day, and that extends to vehicle auction sites. Bring a Trailer has hosted just four auctions of the Dutch exotic in the past year, with this ultra-low-mileage 2005 C8 Spyder being the most popular. The C8 is powered by a mid-mounted Audi V-8, and the car’s unique exterior styling is exceeded only by its over-the-top interior, which features quilted leather for days (this being long before you could get that stuff in a Nissan Sentra), floor-hinged pedals, and the pièce de résistance, an exposed chrome manual-shift linkage. The selling price of $322,000 was pretty much in line with other Spykers; on BaT in the past three years, they’ve sold for between $220,000 and $451,014.
40K-Kilometer 1998 Subaru Impreza 22B STI
The Subaru STI certainly has a following, and this pristine Japan-market example—from the era when the rally-inspired Subie was something Americans could only pine for from afar—really hit a nerve with the BaT audience, garnering just over 243,000 page views and 663 comments. Why all the excitement? An analysis by Hagerty breaks it down, but essentially, the 22B is historically significant as the progenitor of the STI, and it’s also ultra-rare: 400 were built for Japan (they’re said to have sold out in 30 minutes), plus a handful for the U.K. and Australian markets. Another Japanese performance car imported to the United States under the “show or display” exemption, this Subaru brought $312,555, a result that reportedly topped the previous 22B auction high-water mark by $140K.
Restored 1950 Westcraft Capistrano Trailer
This beautifully restored and customized 1950 Westcraft Capistrano trailer received more than 334,000 page views, the most of any BaT listing this year. This sale also was one of the most commented on, with 821 comments at this writing. It’s easy to see why the BaT audience went nuts for this trailer. The 33-foot Capistrano was the grandest offering from California-based Westcraft, which operated in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. The interior was sympathetically restored and modernized, and its birch paneling glows with five coats of tinted varnish topped with marine varnish. Although the trailer maintains its period style, it incorporates updates including modern mechanical systems, hidden TVs, and surround-sound audio. This regal house on wheels sold for a suitably princely $630,000.
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