With endless funds, these would be in my garage.

The Barrett-Jackson auction recently went down in West Palm Beach, Florida, and while the auction of the first-ever 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was my main focus, there were plenty of other vehicles that fought for my attention. For two days I walked the 100 acres of the South Florida Fair Grounds looking at iron from every decade in motoring history. There were old Rolls Royces, Mercedes, and even a few Ferraris. Just feet away were iconic American muscle cars with hot-cammed V-8 thumping out unburned hydrocarbons and more than a few classic pickups and SUVs.

Of course, you know Barrett-Jackson is one of the largest traveling auctions in the country. It hammers bids on thousands of classic vehicles every year, some with million-dollar price tags. Barrett-Jackson visits locations including the Northeast, Las Vegas, Scottsdale, and obviously West Palm Beach, each year. The auctioneers, staff, and equipment all travel. The vehicles are generally more regional, with tons of locals and residents of nearby states looking to sell their stuff. The variety is nearly limitless.

Also limitless is my taste for history and cars. Combine the two, and I’m lost in a dizzying whirlwind of want and desire. Sadly, I wasn’t registered to bid (my wife might say thankfully). That didn’t stop me from looking, though, and look I did! Here are my five favorite vehicles from the auction.

Continue reading for the list

1974 Jeep CJ-5

Five Awesome Vehicles from Barrett-Jackson's 2017 West Palm Beach Auction Exterior
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Perched firmly at the top of my list is this perfectly restored Jeep CJ-5. This 1974 model has the Renegade trim package and is powered by the AMC 304 cubic-inch V-8. Yeah, Jeeps used to have some fun engine options. A three-speed manual transmission lets the driver have complete control, as does the manually-operated, part-time 4WD system. Solid axles at each end are held in place with leaf springs, while a C-channel frame holds everything together. It’s old technology, even for 1974, but it’s exactly what the U.S. Military needed back in 1941 to fight the Germans and Japs.

Inside, the interior is incredibly simple. The metal dash has limited instrumentation and switches, but all the essentials are present. The floor is covered in truck bed liner for added protection. The original bucket seats are still present but have been recovered with aftermarket vinyl.

The kicker though is this Jeep’s pure fun attitude. Its five-slot mag wheels are wrapped in modern BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM2 tires. A four-inch suspension lift increases ground clearance, but not by too much. And best of all, Hedman headers dump the V-8’s burbling exhaust into side pipes, neatly tucked under the rocker panels. It sounded amazing. For me, it combines my love for off-roading with the top-down fun of a 1970s-era Mopar muscle car. What’s better than that? My dream machine sold for $26,400.

1960 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia

Five Awesome Vehicles from Barrett-Jackson's 2017 West Palm Beach Auction Exterior
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Alright, so I’m not much on the Karmann Ghia, but this particular example was immaculate restored. In fact, it’s very likely the car is in far better condition now than then it left the factory 57 years ago. The car had not a single scratch on the paint, not a stitch out of place in the pristine interior, and nary a smudge of stray grease in the tiny engine compartment.

The Karmann Ghia comes powered by the iconic 1.2-liter flat four-cylinder Volkswagen engine. This boxer-style mill powered everything from the Type 1 Beatle to the Type 2 Bus. Millions were made. And like the original 1.2-liter, this one makes just 36 horsepower. A four-speed manual transmission makes the most of that power before sending it to the rear wheels. The Karmann Ghia’s chassis is even shared with the Type 1 Bug.

Sure, it might not win any races, but there’s something uniquely special about something so perfectly well preserved and cared for. This example sold for an amazingly high $48,400.

1971 Chevrolet K5 Blazer

Five Awesome Vehicles from Barrett-Jackson's 2017 West Palm Beach Auction Exterior
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It’s pretty clear trucks and SUVs are becoming a hot segment at classic car auctions, but this 1971 Chevy K5 Blazer takes the cake. It’s been meticulously restored to a better-than-new condition with one exception – it’s powered by a modern, 6.2-liter LS3 V-8 swapped from a Corvette. Yep, this Blazer packs 430 horsepower and a modern Connect-and-Cruise 4L70E automatic transmission mated to the original NP-205 transfer case. The auction details say it took some 1,500 hours to restore and modify this truck. The body is 95 percent original sheet metal and is protected by a protective coating underneath.

The Blazer’s modern engine and transmission are complemented by new alloy wheels and Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires. A Vintage Air condition and heating system also keeps occupants comfortable. There are only 200 miles on the odometer since its restoration in December of 2016. So what did this flawless example of 1970s GM SUV sell for? Your guess is far too low…. The Blazer set the world-record for the most expensive GM SUV ever sold at auction, bringing $220,000.

Dale Earnhardt’s 1989 Chevrolet Lumina Stock Car

Five Awesome Vehicles from Barrett-Jackson's 2017 West Palm Beach Auction Exterior
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Okay, so I’m not much on NASCAR history, or any racing in general, to be honest, but I’ve got a real appreciation for this car. This is the late, great Dale Earnhardt’s 1989 Chevy Lumina stock car. This exact car won two races with Earnhardt Sr. behind the wheel, and was the first of Earnhardt’s cars to wear the Goodwrench sponsorship.

The car stared its racing career in 1989 as a Monte Carlo Aerocoupe sponsored under Wrangler. However, for the 1990 season, the body was changed out for the Lumina look, along with the sponsorship change. The car has never been restored and is in the same condition it was in 1990. Earnhardt’s crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine has even authenticated the race car, saying it’s in the exact condition it would be for a race in 1990.

The car was owned by the same person for the last seven years, having been stored in a climate-controlled garage full of other collectible cars. It’s no surprise, then, seeing this car sell for $220,000.

1968 Dodge Charger R/T Hemi

Five Awesome Vehicles from Barrett-Jackson's 2017 West Palm Beach Auction Exterior
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I might not be a big Volkswagen or NASCAR guy, but I’m a sucker for late 1960s and early 1970s Mopars. This 1968 Dodge Charger R/T is a true classic, completely with its numbers-matching 426 cubic-inch Hemi V-8 and four-speed manual transmission. The car is only one of 211 built with the Hemi and four-speed combo for 1968, making it outstandingly rare. Even rarer is its factory Broadcast Sheet Dodge assembly line workers used to properly assemble the car.

The Charger underwent a full-Concours frame-off rotisserie restoration and is painted its factory color of Bronze Poly with a black vinyl interior. The car sold for $132,000.

While most of these vehicles are too rich for my blood, I absolutely appreciated seeing them in person. It’s one thing to write about high-end restored vehicles, but it’s another to see them roll across the auction block. Topping that is seeing them up close, smelling the exhaust and gasoline, and seeing them as they should be – lovingly cared for.

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