EP020 Gary & Muffy Bennett



In Episode 20 of Road Muscle Radio, Mark “Catfish” Groves and Brett Hatfield discuss what Millenials really want, the right word for the year of your bird, and how Monterey got back on track- a racetrack. In segment two, Gary and Muffy Bennett of Leake Auctions join to talk about how they about to take away your case of the Mondays for the rest of the year.



Millennials having surprising impact on collector car hobby

Not only are they buying, but Hagerty analyst says what they’re buying may come as a surprise

No only are Millennials “the fastest-growing demographic of car collectors,” according to Hagerty, but as John Wiley, senior data analyst for Hagerty Valuation Services, points out, “the oldest ones are around 40 years of age. They’re adults now. They have driver’s licenses and jobs.”

In other words, Millennials have come of age and they are buying and selling collector vehicles.

“Five years ago, not very many were interested in collector cars,” Wiley says of the generation ranging in age from the mid-20s to their very late 30s, “but now they have spending money.”

So, what are they buying?

“People have a hard time believing this, but what we see with our policy core data, they really like cars and trucks from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s,” Wiley said in an interview with the ClassicCars.com Journal.

Wiley adds that there’s an assumption that what Millennials want are vintage imports or brand-new sporty cars, “and there certainly are pockets of interest,” he says, “but that’s still a pretty small number.”

So it’s not just Radwood hopefuls, dammit.

There appears to be a lot of interest in pony cars and muscle cars, along with more appreciation for such cars from the late ‘70s.

He also notes that the Millennials’ experience has been that when they were younger, “there weren’t as many nice ones around. After the gas crisis, they were used up and disappeared. But by the 1990s they had been restored or were starting to be restored and they came back into people’s awareness.”

Thus, if you were in high school, say in 2001, among the cars with appeal were a new BMW M3, perhaps a C5 Corvette, and vintage Mustangs and Camaros.

Hagerty says the SN-95 generation of the Ford Mustang, like the 1997 SVT Cobra, are most popular cars of the 1990s with collectors

While Baby Boomers still comprise 55 percent of collectible car owners, according to Hagerty statistics, those figures indicate the number of Millennials in the hobby has increased 76 percent in the past 5 years.

The 1965-66 Ford Mustang ranks as the most popular collector car in terms of numbers, Hagerty statistics indicate. Looking at those stats, here are the most popular cars with collectors by decade of manufacture:

1950s — Tri-5 Chevrolets (how shocking is this after such a long downward trend)

1960s — Ford Mustang

1970s — C3 Chevrolet Corvette

1980s — C4 Chevrolet Corvette

1990s — Ford Mustang (SN-95 generation)

2000s — C5 Chevrolet Corvette

2010s — Dodge Challenger

Wiley also said that while the new and used car markets have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, collector car values have not suffered negative impact.

“Volume (of sales) fell in total dollars transacted,” he said, “but (vehicle) values haven’t changed much.”

For where these cars are bought, Wiley notes that while much is made of auctions, live or online, only 5 percent of collector car sales are done at auction. Ninety-five percent sold are sold privately.



Ford Thunderbird field guide: Know your ‘Bird nicknames

By Mike Austin on Jul 30th, 2020 at 9:00 am

Thunderbird nicknames cover 65 years of birds, and give us an idea about each chronological evolution of this often elated, sometimes hated American icon.

Hemmings takes us on a quick tour of all 11 Thunderbird names and how they got that way.  Plus they supply Hemmings-qualified falues.

Classic Bird (aka Early Bird, Little Bird, Baby Bird): 1955-’57

Why: It’s the original recipe. “Classic” and “Early” are kind of self-explanatory, while “Little” and “Baby” refer to the fact that it’s the only two-seater in the family tree until the 2002 model.

A response to the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, the first Thunderbird used plenty of off-the-shelf parts to keep costs down. Buyer’s didn’t seem to care, as the first-generation T-Bird vastly outsold the early ‘Vette.

Price range: Starting around the $20,000 bracket, with a sweet spot just under $50,000 according to the current listings in the Hemmings Classifieds. Fresh restorations, restomods, and rare option combinations inflate the asking price of some examples to just under six figures.


Square Bird: 1958-’60


Room for five made the ‘Bird bigger and less sporty but also a whole lot more appealing to the general public. Sales of the second generation exploded to around four times the total of the first generation, and increased every year. One 1960 model was also made out of stainless steel by Allegheny Ludlum.

Price range: Under $20,000 up to $60,000.


Bullet Bird: 1961-’63

(MARK – one of the few cars I wouldn’t feel guilty cheating on a MOPAR with)

Why: It’s sleek and streamlined like a projectile.

Within an inch the same length of squarebirds, but they looked lower, longer and wider, with an exciting-looking body featuring all sorts of jet aircraft styling cues. The landau roof was first available in 1962.  And that bullet nose that makes them look like they’re moving even when parked.

Price range: Plenty of options under $25,000, with nicer examples and those with rare engines and options listed for $60,000 and, in some cases, above.

Flair Bird: 1964-’66

A little squarer, not as flat as the squarebird, but still with chrome and some cool hood styling.

The new sheet metal kept the Thunderbird at the top of the sales chart in the personal luxury segment, and ended up being the last convertible until the 2002 reboot. Disc brakes were added in 1965, and a new egg-crate grille closed out the model run in 1966.

Price range: Slightly more of a value play than the Bullet Bird on the low end, you can find options in the low teens while fresh restorations come with asking prices around $50,000.


Glamour Bird: 1967-’71 

(MARK: the front ends look like a jr high yearbook shot of a kid super-proud of their braces)

As per hemmings: This Thunderbird dropped the sporty façade and went fully into large luxo-boat territory.

There was also a model with rear-hinged rear doors. In 1970, the flush hidden-headlamp grille gave way to a pointed snout. Not loved nearly as much as other Thunderbirds, this generation has a lower survival rate, making them rarer today.

Price range: That rarity is reflected in the few for sale in the Hemmings Classifieds as of this writing, with prices from $10,000-$20,000 that are in line with recent auction results.


Big Bird: 1972-’76


It’s the biggest and heaviest Thunderbird.

It’s more than 18 feet long, over 2 feet longer than a current Ford Explorer. The Big Bird shared its body and underpinnings with the Continental Mark IV. Restyled just a year after its debut, in part to meet the new bumper standards, by 1975 the emissions-hobbled T-Bird was still cushy, but, down to 218 hp, also incredibly slow.

Price range: Another rare bird in the Hemmings Classifieds, $10,000 and below seems to be the going rate for most examples.


Torino Bird: 1977-’79

Why: No longer a sibling to the Continental, this Thunderbird was based on the Ford Torino.


Shorter in wheelbase but not appreciably smaller than its predecessor, the move to a midsize platform (and a price cut) resulted in record sales. Ford moved more than 300,000 in the first two model years, and nearly that many for the third.

You can get all the Torino Bird you want for $15,000 or less, although you don’t see many for sale.

Box Bird: 1980-’82 

(Or as Mark says- Turdburd)

So much ugly and awkward in such a tight package.

It’s the first Thunderbird on the Fox platform, and the downsizing to an intermediate form meant room for four instead of the previous six. Sales dropped nearly in half in 1980, dwindling to just over 45,000 in 1982.

Price range: This and the previous generation are the nadir of the Thunderbird line, with availability and pricing that reflect a lack of collector interest. As before, they seem to go for under $15,000.


Aero Bird: 1983-’88


An aerodynamic shape that caused a stir in the showroom and put Ford back into relevance on the NASCAR track.

The top of the line model was not the Windsor V-8 but the Turbo Coupe, with its turbocharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder. In 1987 the aero look went a step further with flush headlamps and an output increase to 190 hp to match the style. Sales rebounded in this generation, averaging nearly 150,000 a year across the total run.

When you can find one, they seem to go for $10,000 or more. Given the increasing popularity of cars from the 1980s, we’d expect to see more examples and climbing prices in the future.


Super Bird: 1989-’97


Adapted from the supercharged Thunderbird Super Coupe (or SC) model available in this generation.

Evolving the aerodynamic look of the Aero Bird, the Super Bird was a legit grand touring machine in SC trim, with a loads of torque from the supercharged 3.8-liter V-6 and other goodies like electronic-adjustable shocks. That engine was highly tuneable as well. The Windsor V-8 came in 1991, followed up with the modular V-8, although both were only available with an automatic transmission.

MARK: Slabby, drabby, it’s like a Tempo that works out.

Price range: Generally under $15,000, although in short supply in both the Hemmings Classifieds as well as the Super Coupe Club of America forum.

Retro Bird: 2002-’05

Ford was getting in on the retro trend when it brought the T-Bird back on a platform shared with the Lincoln LS and Jaguar S-Type.

After a strong first year, sales declined every year. There’s plenty of blame to go around–a two-year wait from the concept to production and a sedate driving experience are two popular reasons. Or, maybe it was that, like the 1955 model that inspired the design, the two-seat layout had limited appeal to buyers. Today, however, the Retro Bird is gaining a following as a modern, comfortable cruiser.

Price range: Many of these were taken care of since new, so there’s ample supply of good examples. Asking prices in the Hemmings Classifieds go from about $10,000 on the low end to $40,000 for an ultra-low mileage car, with plenty of choices around $20,000.




A private event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was a weirdly normal vintage race


AUG 10, 2020

Monterey, cancelled.  So many great car events, cancelled.

But historic race cars ran at Laguna Seca last weekend.

OK, so a number of traditional Monterey Car Week events take place online this year because of concerns about COVID-19.

Not all of them. What had in the past been called the Pre-Historics, the weekend warmup to what also used to be called The Historics, and was up till last year called The Monterey Motorsports Reunion, was sort of held last weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

If you were watching it from space, or maybe from the Goodyear blimp, Driver Appreciation Weekend might look like the Pre-Historics: there were grand old classic race cars divided into eight classes battling it out in real, live action on the track.  The WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was there, along with great weather both days, no morning fog and no mid-day heat.

Even Ford ceo Jim Farley ran his ’65 Cobra. And Nissan VP of Design David Woodhouse took his ex-Ken Miles Dolphin Mk2 around Laguna Seca.

Only thing missing? The fans.  According to track spokesman Barry Toepke, “So several of us were sitting at the table, and we thought, let’s see if we can put together a driver appreciation weekend just for the people who really want to race or run their cars, let’s give them a chance.”  Social distancing at high rpms. That’s winning.

HMSA president Cris Vandagriff, longtime vintage racing organizer, said “It’s a good, good group of people, very enthusiastic, very appreciative, good cars, been a nice weekend. The only thing that is missing is the social aspect. But it was really good racing, they were all having fun.”

179 cars entered, less than half what would normally be on hand, but they were good cars:

Class 1 saw a Bugatti Type 35 racing against Porsche 356s, a Lotus 11 and a Birdcage Maserati. Nissan’s VP of Design David Woodhouse drove his ex-Ken Miles 1961 Dolphin Mk2 Formula Junior.

Class 2 was all Formula Atlantics, two driven by IMSA Camel GT champion Chris Cord’s sons, Bill and Stephen, who drove a Chevron B-39 and a March 76B, respectively.

Class 3 was a collection of 1950s and ‘60s sports cars: a Lotus Ford CortinaDatsun 2000some early 911s and a Sunbeam Alpine.

Class 4 saw slightly more purpose-built race cars like a few Lotus 23/23Bs, a Porsche 910, a McLaren M1C and a Cooper Monaco.

Class 5 moved up a decade or two to a Datsun 240ZBMW M3, Porsche RSR 2.8 Spec and even a couple Camaros.

Class 6 was all ‘60s muscle cars like CorvettesMustangs and Cobras. Lynn Park brought three Cobras and he raced one while his sons Tim and Steve raced two others. Newly minted Ford ceo Jim Farley drove his blue ’65 Cobra.

Class 7 was back down a decade to a Lola T204, Lotus 61M and a Van Diemen RF80.

And Class 8 was crawling with Datsun 510s, one of which was driven by racing great John Morton.



Joining us now is the powerhouse couple behind Leake Collector Car auctions, Gary and Muffy Bennett. Gary Bennett’s career in the collector car industry has spanned over 50 years. As the former Vice President of Consignment, Bidders, and Guest Services for Barrett Jackson, Gary was instrumental in Barrett Jackson’s meteoric growth. In 2018, Gary was invited to join Ritchie Bros., spearheading their entry into the collector car auction sector.

Muffy Bennett’s career in the collector car auctions industry has spanned well over two decades. Her experience as the CEO of Bennett Automotive Specialists included offering concierge services for celebrities and high-net worth individuals, collection expansion and liquidation, appraisals, and buying and reselling collector vehicles. In addition to working in various capacities at Barrett-Jackson for 15 years, she also oversaw the Showroom Division, and all aspects of the full-service dealership. Muffy joined Ritchie Bros. in 2017, forging their entry into the collector car sector.

Gary and Muffy, welcome to back Road Muscle Radio!

• This has been a difficult year for the collector car auction world. How have you had to adapt?
• You have an online event coming up quickly. Can you tell us about that? What unexpected challenges have you had to address in the transition from live sales to online events?
• How many lots will be up for grabs? Which are the most interesting lots?
• What sets Leake online auctions apart from the rest?
• Why have a live sale every other week? Will this be ongoing?
• Will the sales be themed?
• What impact has the pandemic had on the collector car auction industry?

We have been speaking with Gary and Muffy Bennett of Leake Collector Car Auctions.


Leake Auto Auctions



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