Is Auburn the last sale for Auctions America?

RM Sotheby’s experiment with an entry-level collector car auction company appears to be coming to a close with the annual Auctions America Auburn Fall sale taking place this weekend at the Auburn Auction Park in northeast Indiana.

Worldwide Auctioneers also has a sale this weekend in Auburn.

Just as with what had been an Auctions America sale in the historic Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California, this sale is being retitled for 2018, when the twice-a-year Auburn Auction will be presented not by Auctions America but by RM Sotheby’s.

When RM founder Rob Myers and company did the deal to take over what had been the venue for Kruse Auctions a few years ago, RM also launched the Auctions America brand to stage a series of sales geared more to the mainstream of the collector car hobby than to the six- and seven-figure vehicles that tend to fill the RM sales catalogs.

But that was before Myers sold a significant piece of RM to global art auction house Sotheby’s. The RM Sotheby’s joint effort has been a huge success, bringing new customers from the art-collecting world to classic cars as investments that can be appreciated as you use them, not merely as you look at them.

There has been speculation lately that Myers, who has been in the restoration and auction businesses for nearly 40 years, was about to retire, that Sotheby’s would take over full control and that entry-level sales such as those done by Auctions America would not be part of the plan going forward.

Myers said Thursday that the twice-a-year Auburn Auction would continue.

“I’ve been coming her for more than 30 years,” he said, adding that he’s not about to retire.

However, he said, “I hired a new president (for RM Sotheby’s, Ken Ahn, a Harvard graduate and former investment banker/advisor who had been senior vice president for strategy and corporate development at Sotheby’s).

Having someone else as RM Sotheby’s president, Myers said, “means that I can work only 18 hours a day instead of 24.”

He did say that like Santa Monica, the Auburn Auctions would be organized by RM Sotheby’s, and added that a final decision has not been made whether to continue to do any future sales under the Auctions America banner.

Regardless, “we want to upgrade the quality of the cars” on offer in Auburn, he added.

I spent part of Thursday wandering among the cars on the Auburn Auction Park docket. Above are some I’d want were I a collector buying rather than a journalist reporting.

Photos by Larry Edsall

2003 Delahaye Custom Boattail Speedster
2003 Delahaye Custom Boattail Speedster
Created in the style of the French Art Deco era, this custom was built by Browns Metal Mods, and it took four years to create. The curvaceous car — its fiberglass body was designed by Chip Foose — has a modern chassis and a Ford 5.0-liter V8 linked to a C4 automatic transmission. It also has a red leather interior and a removable fabric soft top.
IMG_3312 (1)Formerly part of the acclaimed Lyons Family Collection, this Duesie retains its original LaGrande bodywork, as well as its supercharged engine and chassis. The car’s original owner was Ben Smith, a stock-exchange floor trader known for making a fortune short selling as the U.S. economy entered the Depression. He and his son invested in a horse-racing track in Mexico and the car was part of the deal; it is known within Duesenberg circles as the “Mexico City SJ.”
IMG_3306McFarlans were early but quite advanced vehicles produced in downstate Indiana in the town of Connersville. This original McFarlan chassis and inline 6-cylinder engine wears boattail-style bodywork.
IMG_3287With its Mittelrot (medium red) paint, black leather interior, black convertible top and fuel-injected inline 6-cylinder engine linked to a four-speed manual gearbox, this 220 SE looks like a terrific way to do a vintage car rally such as the Copperstate 1000.
IMG_3282Whomever buys this car will be only the third owner of this sports car with bodywork by Touring. The 4-cylinder engine is topped by a pair of Solex carburetors and is linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The consignor had a note on the windshield that five new Borrani stainless wire wheels and hubs were imported from Italy and mounted on the car in 2015; they were an option when the car was new. The consignor added that the original wood box with factory-furnished tools is still in the trunk.
IMG_3310This restored and rust-free truck still has its original inline-6 engine and 4-speed manual transmission. It’s been restored as a wrecker, and for many years was owned by a Chrysler Dodge dealer.
IMG_3293My Dad had a ’51 Pontiac sedan that he bought for his commute to work so my Mom could have the “family” station wagon. This sedan delivery also is a ’51, and has a straight-8 with column-shifted 3-speed gearbox, but it’s way cooler than a station wagon.
IMG_3279This is the stunt car that did a spiral jump over a river in “The Man with the Golden Gun” 007 movie. It looks like a regular AMC Hornet but is built on a race-style frame, and the driver sits in the middle behind a repositioned steering wheel. If I bought it, I’d give it to Andy Reid, our East Coast editor and resident James Bond fanatic.

 

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