All posts by Larry Edsall

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the Web and becoming the author of more than 15 books. In addition to being Editorial Director at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times, writes a weekly automotive feature for The Detroit News and is an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State Univeristy.

Worldwide Auctioneers hits 97 percent sell-through in Auburn

With an astounding 97 percent of consignments going to new owners, Worldwide Auctioneers reported a total sale of $2.54 million for its recent and 10th annual Auburn auction during the 61st Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in northeast Indiana.

“2017 has been an extraordinarily momentous year for our business, as we continued our corporate expansion with inaugural sales in both Scottsdale and out on the Monterey Peninsula and relocated our longstanding Texas Classic Auction to a vibrant new venue in the heart of Arlington’s entertainment district,” Rod Egan, Worldwide co-owner and auctioneer, said in the post-sale news release.

“We are absolutely committed to building on the successes of this year and to continuing to offer our customers a dynamic and wholly expert alternative in the market in 2018 and well into the future.”

1908 Stoddard-Dayton one of two cars to top $100,000 at Worldwide Auctioneers sale
1908 Stoddard-Dayton one of two cars to top $100,000 at Worldwide Auctioneers sale

Worldwide’s next sale is scheduled for January 18, 2018, in Arizona.

The company’s annual auction in its hometown was staged during the Labor Day weekend in the National Auto & Truck Museum’s historic L29 Cord building, where the top sale was a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet B that sold for $539,000.

Top 10 sales, Worldwide Auctioneers Auburn 2017:

  1. 1938 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet B, $539,000
  2. 1907 Stoddard-Dayton Model K runabout, $118,800
  3. 1930 Cadillac V-16 Imperial limousine, $99,000
  4. 1937 Cord 812 phaeton, $96,250
  5. 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB, $82,500
  6. 1968 Jaguar E-type roadster, $78,100
  7. 1908 Holsman Mondel 10 runabout, $66,000
  8. 1930 LaSalle 4-passenger phaeton, $60,500
  9. 1933 Cadillac V-12 7-passenger sedan, $60,500
  10. 1935 Desoto Airflow SG coupe, $60,500

(Prices include buyer’s fees.)

Worldwide reported that early consignments for its Arizona auction include a 1923 Duesenberg Model A Sport Phaeton with original chassis, body and engine; a 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III drophead coupe with Mulliner Park Ward open coachwork; and an multiple award-winning 1929 Cord L29 cabriolet.

More evidence of the changing demographics among car collectors

While wandering recently through the cars available for bidding at the classic car auctions in Auburn, Indiana, we wondered when the Ford Maverick and Chevrolet Vega had become collectible.

Now from England comes word of a couple more examples of cars you might never have expected to see on auction dockets — a one-owner 1979 Ford Fiesta 1300S is being promoted as the star car for first-time collectors at ClassicCar Auctions’ September Sale taking place September 23 at the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre.

1959 Ford 100e Prefect an ideal 'starter' car?
1959 Ford 100e Prefect an ideal ‘starter’ car?

The Fiesta, which was driven only 5,693 miles before going into storage 11 years ago, will be offered at no reserve, the auction company notes in its news release.

The car has a gold-shade of paint and brown chevron-design cloth interior.

Oh, and the car was, indeed, owned by an elderly lady who put it into storage when she gave up driving.

“The electrics and 1,299cc Kent engine are in good running order, requiring minimal work to be returned to the road,” the auction company notes.

“This sporty little classic Fiesta is the ideal ‘starter’ classic for new or virgin classic car buyers, as is the 1959 Ford 100E Prefect,” added Richard Greenhalgh, classic car specialist at CCA.

“Buying a classic car doesn’t have to be eye-wateringly expensive and this Fiesta will make for a fun project, as well as being great fun to drive!”

The ’59 Ford Prefect he mentioned is another no reserve offering at the sale. So are a 1989 BMW 325i SE, a 1964 Triumph Spitfire 4 Mk1, a 1991 Volkswagen Golf GTI MkII and a 1970 MG Midget racer.

“CCA is the perfect place to come for anyone interested in going into classic car ownership,” Greenhalgh added. “We have a huge variety of cars ranging from No Reserve up to £50,000 plus.”

Is it time for remaining Chevrolet Confederates to go to the crusher?

Hurricanes have blown away — at least temporarily — the headlines and silenced the talking heads eager to chat about the controversies of keeping or removing statues and other tributes to the Confederate States of America and the perception of their symbolism of slavery.

While the controversy over statues was roiling in the aftermath of the protests turned tragedy at Charlottesville, Virginia, I was involved in a conversation about whether, taken to the extreme, we’d see the public destruction of the remaining Chevrolet Confederates — of which more than 300,000 were produced for the 1932 model year, and which you see from time to time at vintage car shows and collector car auctions.

The Confederate was a one-year model, replacing the Chevrolet Independence and replaced for 1933 by the Master Eagle and the Standard Mercury models.

And what of other classic vehicles with names no longer deemed acceptable? Consider the Studebaker Dictator, or the Rambler Rebel, or, for that matter, any German vehicle produced during Hitler’s reign. Should they all be driven to the crusher?

Action at last on RPM Act?

SEMA reports that the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment has a hearing scheduled September 13 aimed at reducing regulatory burdens on small businesses and that among the bills to be discussed is the RPM Act, the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2017 (H.R. 35), which would “clarify that the Clean Air Act allows motor vehicles to be converted into race vehicles used solely for competition.”

Passage of the RPM Act has been a major focus for the automotive aftermarket parts producing industry, which is concerned not only about motorsports but about bureaucratic regulation that potentially might limit other vehicle modification or restoration.

Supreme Court’s patent ruling has aftermarket implications?

According to the Auto Care Association, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this summer in the case of Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., has major implications for those maintaining and restoring automobiles.

The case involved Lexmark’s ability to restrict purchasers from reusing printer cartridges or from providing used cartridges to anyone other than Lexmark itself.

“While the case applied to printer cartridges, the impact… would have been extensive, restricting the ability of companies to produce and sell aftermarket and remanufactured parts based on the fear of violating a car company’s patent,” Bill Hanvey, Auto Care Association president, said in a news release.

That news release quoted Chief Justice John Roberts:

“Take a shop that restores and sells used cars. The business works because the shop can rest assured that, so long as those bringing in the cars own them, the shop is free to repair and resell those vehicles. That smooth flow of commerce would sputter if companies that make the thousands of parts that go into a vehicle could keep their patent rights after the first sale. Those companies might, for instance, restrict resale rights and sue the shop owner for patent infringement.

“And even if they refrained from imposing such restrictions, the very threat of patent liability would force the shop to invest in efforts to protect itself from hidden lawsuits. Either way, extending the patent rights beyond the first sale would clog the channels of commerce, with little benefit from the extra control that the patentees retain. And advances in technology, along with increasingly complex supply chains, magnify the problem.”

Warning: Do Not Touch! | Larry Edsall photo
Warning: Do Not Touch! | Larry Edsall photo

Selfie, or just selfishly self-centered?

I’m always disappointed when I go to a car show and see “Look but don’t touch” placards on what often are nice but certainly not fragile cars. By the same token, I’m always pleased when I see a car owner inviting people, especially youngsters, to sit behind the steering wheel and imagine the joy of actually driving such a machine.

On the other hand, there was news recently of an already-damaged 800-year-old sarcophagus on exhibit in a museum in England. For some reason, a set of parents saw a photo opportunity and placed their child atop the coffin, which broke and fell to the floor, the BBC reported. The family fled, but not before having their image — photo opp, indeed! — caught by security cameras.

Sadly, it wasn’t an isolated case. Artnet News reports that in February a “selfie-taker” smashed a sculpture at the Hirshhorn Museum and in July, a woman did $200,000 in damage to sculptures while attempting to take a selfie.

Will special-edition ag trucks become collectibles?

Case IH Red is one of the color choices for the new Ram Harvest Edition trucks | Ram photo
Case IH Red is one of the color choices for the new Ram Harvest Edition trucks | Ram photo

Ram, the truck division of Fiat Chrysler, recently unveiled what it called “the first truck designed specifically for the agriculture industry.” Actually, it’s not one truck but a series of Harvest Edition pickups with special features and painted in Case IH Red or New Holland Blue — sorry, John Deere fans, there’s no green-and-yellow version yet.

“The Ram Harvest Edition truck will allow farm families to get their work done while proudly showing their agricultural brand loyalty,” Mike Manley, head of Jeep and Ram, said in a news release.

In addition to special colors, the Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 ag trucks will have a one-inch higher ride height, wheel flares, off-road tires for dealing with farm roads and crossing pastures, black tubular side steps, spray-in bedliners, fold-out bumper steps and other equipment.

How soon will we see Harvest Edition trucks crossing the block at one of Mecum’s Gone Farmin’ vintage tractor auctions?

Ag-edition truck also available in New Holland Blue
Ag-edition truck also available in New Holland Blue

 

The road leads back to Savannah for historic barn-found racer

When they were youngsters growing up in Savannah, Georgia, Dale Critz Jr. and Richard Papy lived just down the street from each other and just around the corner from Julian Quattlebaum, a doctor by profession but also a car enthusiast and historian. He not only took the boys for rides in his 1908 Buick but was the author of the definitive book about the early and important motorcar races held in Savannah.

Quattlebaum as a child was among those who had attended those races, including the International Grand Prize Race in 1908 and the Vanderbilt Cup that ensued as Savannah emerged as the early home for international auto racing in the United States.

Racing in Savannah in 1911
Racing in Savannah in 1911

Papy’s grandfather was among the stewards for the 1908 race, and his family traces to the town’s first mayor in colonial times.

“My grandfather moved here in 1938,” Critz said. “We’re newcomers.”

Critz’ grandfather moved to Savannah to establish a car dealership. Critz is the third generation to run what now includes Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Buick/GMC stores. The Critz family also has been involved in historic preservation in the historic city, so when Papy, who helped launch the Oglethorpe Driving Club that brought racing back to the community in recent years, learned that one of the cars that raced in Savannah back in the day was going to auction, he suggested that Critz buy it.

That car was one of the three EMF factory racers, a 1911 30-model two-seater, which helped the Detroit automaker sweep the top three places in the Tiedeman Trophy race that was part of the 1911 Savannah Grand Prix and Vanderbilt Cup competition. On September 31 and October 1, that car will be among those showcased at the second Atlanta Concours d’Elegance at Chateau Elan in Braselton, Georgia.

EMF trio on the starting grid
EMF trio on the starting grid

Of the few surviving cars that raced in Savannah in the early years, most are in museums. The EMF is the only one that has returned to reside in Savannah, Papy said.

The car often can be seen in the Mercedes dealership showroom and frequently is driven to various events around Savannah. It has won awards at the Hilton Head, Keeneland and Amelia Island concours since Critz acquired it at Bonhams auction at Amelia Island in 2015.

Coachbuilder and Wayne manufacturer Barney Everitt, star Cadillac salesman William Metzger, and Walter Flanders, production manager at Ford, launched their own automotive brand in 1908. Their cars featured a combined transmission/rear axle, a mechanical mishmash that would give their customers fits.

Nonetheless, they sold more than 15,000 cars in 2010 and decided to further promote the brand by going racing in “light car” class for production-based vehicles. The biggest of those events would be the 1911 Tiedeman Trophy race at Savannah, and they sent three specially built 30-horsepower machines to Georgia, where the cars finished first, second and third.

Critz gives a ride to the then-mayor of Savannah
Critz gives a ride to the then-mayor of Savannah

Papy notes that the car Critz now owns was the third-place car, primarily because the other two had been equipped with special “non-skid” Firestone tires and didn’t have to make pit stops for tire changes during the 175-mile race. However, Critz’ car is believed to be the only one of the three still surviving, which EMF did only for a few months beyond the race before being absorbed into Studebaker.

Long-time car collector Gordon Matson acquired the EMF in 1983.

“He went to buy another EMF and this car was disassembled but in the same barn,” Critz said. “He bought them both and planned to restore the other one. But six months later, he looked at this car and got the chassis and engine numbers and started researching and found out what he had (the historic Savannah racer).

“He forgot about the other car and restored this car.”

Matson, a New Hampshire resident, raced the car in New England hill climbs and “drove it a lot” before taking it in 2005 to David Steinman at the Waitsfield Motor Car Company in Vermont for restoration back to its Savannah race spec and livery. The restored racer was shown at Pebble Beach in 2006.

With Gordon in ill health, the car went to Bonhams for sale in 2015, with Critz getting involved in a bidding battle that resulted in a record price for an EMF. While feeling he probably overspent to buy the car, he’s proud that it has returned to the place where it raced successfully.

Critz and Papy drive to Amelia Island awards stand
Critz and Papy drive to Amelia Island awards stand

He’s also proud of the fact that it remains mechanically sound —thanks in part to a local Ferrari mechanic — and is frequently driven, a fact that meant a trophy rather than a ribbon in the Pre-1935 Race Car class at the Amelia concours.

Seems the judges had awarded the car runner-up status in its class at the Florida concours, but when the class-winning car — a car some 25 years newer than Critz’ racer — was unable to drive to the awards stand under its own power, concours officials changed their mind and awarded the best in class trophy to the historic Savannah racer.

Pick of the Day: 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV

I don’t know if it was a Revel or AMT kit, but I assembled one of these in scale-model plastic when I was a kid, though due to my youthful clumsiness with the tube of glue and garish decals, mine didn’t look nearly as nice as this unrestored original.

The Pick of the Day is this 1959 Lincoln Continental Mark IV, being offered by a private seller in New Haven, Connecticut.

Note: Although the headline on the advertisement on ClassicCars.com says the car is a Mark III, the seller notes early in the text that the car is a Mark IV, not a III.

The seller bought the car from someone who had owned it since 1963.

“She has her age spots but is still a classic beauty,” the seller notes.

“This car is a blast to drive and runs very well,” the seller adds. “Starts right up, shifts beautifully and the brakes are perfect after the recent work.

3981433-1959-lincoln-continental-mark-iii-std-c-150x150 3981898-1959-lincoln-continental-mark-iii-std-c-150x150 3980963-1959-lincoln-continental-mark-iii-std-c-150x150

“Yes, there are some minor engine leaks but given the age, they are minimal and most come from the auto-lubricating system that is something special to see in these cars.

“All the power windows, with the exception of the passenger butterfly, work well including the rear seat center breezeway window. Some of the power window switches themselves could use a rebuild but all the motors and power mechanisms work.

“Both driver and front passenger windows are cracked but they open and close fine, should be replaced, will cost a few hundred dollars.

“All the chrome, and with this car that is a lot, is there.

“All the lights, signals, wipers, power door locks — they all work just fine.

“The fuel gauge doesn’t work but all the other gauges and lights in the dash are functional. The interior upholstery on the seats is original so the leather could be replaced, it is cracked with age. I found a place that sells the original brocade fabric pattern so a new, original look is very doable and not that expensive.

“There are some rust spots, nothing deep at all.”

The seller notes that the car was repainted in the 1980s at a body shop. “It was a body shop special, not a showroom paint job.”

The seller notes that “time and circumstances mean I have to move this car for other projects… She has to go to a better home, or I will need a new one.”

The asking price is $10,600.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

 

 

Uniquely colored Ferrari Enzo tops RM Sotheby’s London auction

Before heading to Italy for its Ferrari 70th anniversary sale, RM Sotheby’s staged its 11th annual collector car auction in London’s Battersea Evolution, where a unique blue 2004 Ferrari Enzo sold for £1,805,000 ($2.36 million).

Overall, the London auction generated £7,064,475 ($9,254,465) in transactions. Prices reported include buyer’s fees.

The auction-leading Enzo originally was delivered in another unique color — Matt Titanio Extra Campionario with a Pelle Cuoio interior (and, yes, those are the names of the original colors) — to a member of a Middle Eastern royal family living in London. It was purchased by an Asian mining magnate in 2008 at RM’s Leggenda e Passione sale at the Ferrari factory in Italy and was repainted in its Blu Tour de France color.

It was sold this past week showing 8,884 kilometers on its odometer.

Bentley R-Type Continental brings $1.082 million | RM Sotheby's photo by Tom Wood
Bentley R-Type Continental brings $1.082 million | RM Sotheby’s photo by Tom Wood

Second-highest sale of the auction was a 1955 Bentley R-Type Continental fastback formerly owned by Victor Gauntlett, who at the time was chairman and primary financial supporter of Aston Martin despite being a Bentley collector and driver. The consignor’s family bought the car from Gauntlett and has owned it for nearly 35 years. It sold this week for £826,250 ($1.082 million).

Important Porsches continued to do well at auction with a one-owner 1996 Porsche 911 GT2 selling for £775,625 ($1.016 million). The car was one of only 161 road-legal GT2 from the final generation of air-cooled 911s and had been driven only 18,000 kilometers. Among those kilometers were laps around the Nurburgring in 1999 during which the car sustained front and rear body damage; the car was sent to Porsche in Stuttgart for repair to as-new condition, RM Sotheby’s reported.

993 Porsche GT2 is third-high seller | RM Sotheby's photo by Simon Clay
993 Porsche GT2 is third-high seller | RM Sotheby’s photo by Simon Clay

A car with 007 movie provenance on the auction docket sold for £230,000 ($301,300), a 2014 Land Rover Defender, one of 10 modified for the film, was used in the James Bond movie, Spectre.

Another car sold with celebrity history was a 1971 Porsche 911 E delivered new to racing driver John Fitzpatrick, former British Touring Car champion who at the time was driving for the Kremer Porsche team, winning the European GT championship in 1972 and 1974. Fitzpatrick owned the car for two years, but had a reunion with the car at the auction, driving it onto the stage for bidding, where it sold for £126,500 ($165,715).

Top 5 sales — RM Sotheby’s London auction 2017:

1 .2004 Ferrari Enzo, $2.36 million
2. 1955 Bentley R-Type Continental, $1.082 million
3. 1996 Porsche 911 GT2, $1.016 million)
4. 2012 Lexus LFA, $404,465
5. 1998 Porsche 911 Turbo S, $389,725

(Prices include buyer’s fees).

Enzo exposed
Enzo exposed

 

Will electric-powered self-driving cars carry us back to the future?

You might recall that when J Mays and his teams at the VW/Audi and then the Ford design studios were creating heritage-inspired cars and concepts — the new Beetle, the Audi Avus and TT, the new Mustang, a new Thunderbird, the Ford GT, and proposals for new Cobras and Broncos and even that amazing Ford 49 concept, the overarching theme was called Retrofuturism, a look to the future inspired by a look into the rear view mirror.

It was a welcome change from the jellybean shapes that were everywhere on the highways in the late decades of 20th Century, but government-imposed crash safety and fuel-economy requirements restricted the exuberance that car designers could incorporate into what we drove.

It seemed that the flamboyant days of French and Italian studios were long gone.

Or maybe not.

Among the hundreds of cars displayed in and around the Pebble Beach Lodge during the recent Monterey Car Week were three vehicles that make me think twe might be entering an automotive design renaissance. If so, it well may be electrically powered and autonomous vehicles that carry us into a world of style and elegance.

First, the vehicles, and then the implications of the self-driving and electrified vehicle and the future of automotive design and style.

The three vehicles that inspired this essay were the elegant Mercedes-Maybach 6 cabriolet, the racy Infiniti Prototype 9 and the surprisingly large Volkswagen I.D. Buzz.

The Buzz had debuted as a concept car at the Detroit auto show back in January. I first saw it early in the morning on 17 Mile Drive, where it was posing for photographs just before VW announced that the modern version of its famed VW Microbus – though this one might best be called the Maxibus – had been approved for production, and will be available for purchase in dealerships in 2022.

The Mercedes-Maybach 6 is a long, low two-seater, with what Mercedes-Benz calls a “luxurious ‘haute couture’ interior” and art deco exterior design cues and proportions. The car is 20 feet long and would look right at home whether it was delivering Clark Gable and Bette Davis or Casey Affleck and Emma Stone to the Academy Awards ceremony.

As with the ID Buzz, propulsion comes from electric batteries, enough to generate 750 horsepower to four in-wheel motors.

Infiniti proclaims its Prototype 9 to be “a journey back in time,” imagining what Nissan’s luxury car division would have built for Grand Prix racing had it been around in the 1940s.

IMG_3019-1-524x524

The project started as an after-hours effort to sketch what might have been, but it became so popular within the design and engineering staffs that a full-fledged prototype was produced.

Again, like the Maybach 6 and Maxibus, the 9 is an electric vehicle

Have you noticed the theme? All three of these retrofuturistic vehicles have electric powertrains. That’s important, because combine an absence of combustible fuel with self-driving cars designed not to crash into each other — or into anything else, for that matter — and there’s the possibility of a new day somewhere over the horizon in which government safety regulations will be rethought — do we need crumple zones in a collision-free road system? — and where fuel economy no longer is a factor because vehicles no longer burn fuel, instead they’ll run on electricity increasingly generated by renewal sources.

The result could be an unbinding of automotive designers, finally allowed to chase their imaginations just like Figoni et Falachi, Pinin Farina, Soutchik, Michelotti and other stylists were free to do.

Of course, we’ll all be passengers, not drivers. Could it possibly be worth the trade off?

 

Tucker Torpedo concept to debut at AACA gala, and other museum news

The Tucker Torpedo, the never-built (until now) concept car designed as part of the launch of Preston Tucker’s car company, will be unveiled in public for the first time October 4 at the AACA Museum’s “Night at the Museum” event and will remain on display at the museum through October 10 in conjunction with the annual Fall Meet Week, the museum has announced.

“Before there was a Tucker ’48, Preston Tucker engaged a series of design projects that produced a never-built concept vehicle called the Tucker Torpedo,” the museum said in its news release. “While elements of the Torpedo found their way into the design of the production Tucker, the concept car is a very different automobile and was never produced in a full- scale prototype . . . until now.

Torpedo in Tucker brochure | illustration courtesy AACA Museum
Torpedo in Tucker brochure | illustration courtesy AACA Museum

“This car, built by Rob Ida Concepts, brings the Torpedo design concept to life. This is the first ever full-scale representation of Preston Tucker’s 1946 Concept Car ‘The Tucker Torpedo’ as designed by ‘chief stylist’ George Lawson.

“The AACA Museum, Inc. with a permanent display of three Tucker ’48 automobiles, including Tucker #1001, is quickly becoming known as the center of the Tucker Universe, and we’re honored to have been chosen as the location to showcase this legendary vehicle for its first public viewing.”

The museum notes that Ida’s grandfather owned a Tucker dealership and that the family business has created various Tuckers, including the Sin City 2 movie car.

“As you can see from the above concept drawing, the Tucker Torpedo includes a centrally positioned steering wheel, doors that wrap up into the roof, and front fenders that turn when the car is cornering,” the museum reported. “These are just a few of the distinguishing features you’ll be able to see when the Torpedo is on view.

The Torpedo was commissioned by Bob Kerekes, the museum said, adding that Kerekes also owns the “Lower 48″ Tucker custom car that was on display at the museum as well as a hand-built Tucker recreation done in 2005.

“My Tucker vehicles have brought me more joy than any other cars in my life,” car-collector Kerekes is quoted in the museum news release.

“Bob Kerekes, along with the Ida family and the Tucker family have all put in a tremendous amount of time, thought, energy and dedicated effort to bring the Tucker Torpedo to life in its historic form,” the museum said. “A shared passion and emotional attachment to all things Tucker led the owner and builder to hold the first public showing of the Torpedo right here at the AACA Museum Inc.”

The Night at The Museum gala and live auction benefits the Children’s Miracle Network at the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital and will feature Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal as recipient of the museum’s first Automotive Heritage Award.

The first Bowling Green-built Corvette | National Corvette Museum photo
The first Bowling Green-built Corvette | National Corvette Museum photo

Corvette museum celebrates Kentucky transportation history

Opening recently and running through May 2018 is a special History of Transportation in Kentucky exhibit at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The exhibit is being done in conjunction with the commonwealth’s 225th anniversary.

Kentucky-built cars are included, among them the first Bowling Green-built Chevrolet Corvette, a 1943 Ford GPW (Jeep), a Dixie Flyer, and the one-millionth U.S.-built Toyota Camry (from the assembly plant in Georgetown, Kentucky), but so is a horse-drawn sleigh, a 1935 Allis-Chalmers WC tractor, and much more.

LeMay seeks vintage toys, horns and golf gear

The Le May – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, is looking for items for upcoming displays.

One will feature vintage automotive, wheels and/or motorized toys for an upcoming display in the museum’s lobby. Items, including Schwinn and BMX bicycles, Radio Flyer wagons, Cox, tethered or remote-control cars, toy plans and boats, vintage Big Wheels, old skateboards, Soap Box Derby cars, should be in “museum-presentable condition.”

Another will show vintage brass-era horns and vintage wooden-shafted golf clubs and attire. If you have items to loan for either event, email exhibits@americascarmuseum.org.

Special events this weekend

America on Wheels museum in Allentown opens “The Cars from Transformers” exhibit Saturday at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m, former GM design chief, Ed Welburn, will do a special presentation on “Transformers and the Future of the Automobile.” Welburn was responsible for the Bumblebee Camaro that was among the movie’s stars.

The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, stages its annual Old Car Festival this weekend, both Saturday at Sunday at Greenfield Village. In its 67th year and billed as America’s longest-running antique car show, the event is open to cars produced before 1933. Featured this year is the centennial of the Lincoln Motor Company.

It’s Holley LS Fest weekend at the National Corvette Museum and at Beech Bend Raceway Park and the NCM Motorsports Park, all in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where vehicles powered by the GM LS (or current-generation) LT V8 engines will be featured.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum stages its Summer Ender Fender Bender event Saturday with the Friends n’ Fenders tour, a classic car and vintage motorcycle show, beer garden and music. The museum’s Race Night is scheduled for September 14.

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu hosts its annual Retro Truck Show on Saturday and Sunday.

Mark your calendars

The National Corvette Museum plans a special program the weekend of September 23-24 at its motorsports park for members of the Nashville Cars n’ Coffee group. NASA racers will be at the park for a test ’n tune day September 29 in anticipation of their Great Lakes racing program September 30 and October 1.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum offers its final “Take a Spin” of the season on Thursday, September 21, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. with rides being offered in several of the museum’s cars.

The Kansas City Automotive Museum will offer a “Meet and Greet the Model T Ford” event on September 30 and, in conjunction with a month-long motorcycle exhibit, a motorcycle ride as part of its October 7 cars and coffee cruise-in.

Car museums are setting their fall program schedules. For example, the AACA Museum will host Model T driving experiences September 13 and 16, a Chevrolet Corvair show on September 23, a Matchbox toy show on September 24, a Corvette racing weekend October 20-21, and a Diamond REO truck show on October 22. The museum also is organizing a trip to Italy for November 3-12.

Britain’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu offers programs this fall for adults and children.

Workshops in photography are planned October 14 and 15 and on November 11. The “Classic Virgins Experience Day” on October 21 offers information on classic car ownership for those considering their first purchase; also on the 21st, the museum will offer a “Writing Your Motoring Memoirs” workshop. Automotive art classes are planned for November 18 and 19.

The museum also offers a lecture series with Stuart Graham talking about his racing career on October 14, Dick Skipworth and Tom Purves presenting “Patrons of Motor Sport” on November 18, and the movie, Secret Spitfires, on December 9.

The museum’s autumn Children’s Clubs include a Robotics Saturday Club that runs from September 9 to October 21 with an Engineering Saturday Club starting November 4 and going through December 9. Topics are tailored to age groups — 5-8 year-olds meet at 10:30 a.m. and those 9-11 at 11:45 a.m. The museum also offers Mini Motorists morning activities and storytelling for those younger than age 5 on the third Monday of each month from 10 a.m. until noon.

For details, visit the museum website.

Historic Ferrari test track site for RM Sotheby’s auction

Promising it will be the “most significant single-marque sale in auction history,” RM Sotheby’s stages its third (or fourth) major auction within a month this Saturday with its Leggenda e Passione all-Ferrari sale at the historic Fiorano test track in Maranello, Italy, where the sports and racing car manufacturer is in the midst of its 70th anniversary celebration.

RM Sotheby’s goes to the sale having sold four of the 10 most-expensive Ferraris offered for public sale, the auction house notes. Among those cars were the 1956 290 MM that sold for $28.05 million in 2015 and the 1967 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider which brought $27.5 million in 2013.

This 1960 250 GT has highest pre-sale estimated value | RM Sotheby's photo by Ravi Angard
This 1960 250 GT has highest pre-sale estimated value | RM Sotheby’s photo by Ravi Angard

In its history, RM Sotheby’s has sold around 300 Ferraris for more than a million dollars each.

“At RM Sotheby’s we are continually striving to offer our clients an experience that is second to none,” founder and chief executive Rob Myers said in a news release. “Our partnership with Ferrari is a direct reflection of this crowning achievement. For collectors and enthusiasts alike, the sale represents a world-class and singular event, perhaps one of the most significant auctions ever held, in fact.”

“The auction will bring together an exclusive, curated selection of the greatest sports, GT and racing Ferraris ever built, celebrating pivotal moments in the marque’s history and unearthing some of the most valuable and sought-after examples on the planet,” the auction company’s news release added.

“All entries for the sale will carry certification from the lauded Ferrari Classiche Department.”

The docket for the auction includes more than 40 cars, ranging from a 1950 195 Inter Coupe by Touring to a 2017 LaFerrari Aperta.

Carrying the highest pre-sale estimated values are a 1960 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione valued at €8,500.000 to €10,000.000 ($10.1 million to $11.9 million) and a 1959 250 GT LWB California Spider valued at €7,500.000 to €9,5000.000 ($8.9 million to $11.3 million).

The sale occurs within a five-week run during which RM Sotheby’s has staged sales at Monterey and London and had much of its staff at the Auctions America Auburn Fall sale in northern Indiana, where future Auburn auctions will be staged under the RM Sotheby’s banner.

1950 195 Inter Coupé by Touring | Darin Schnabel
1950 195 Inter Coupé by Touring | Darin Schnabel

Ferrari and RM Sotheby’s also have announced two late additions to the docket.

One is a unique version of the LaFerrari Aperta (below), which will be offered at the auction to raise money for the Save the Children international charity. The car has metallic Rosso Fuoco livery with a metallic Bianco Italian double racing stripe. The interior will be black Alcantara and black carbon fiber with red leather inserts in the seats and red stitching.

The other is the pre-production prototype for the 2013 LaFerrari. The prototype was shown to prospective LaFerrari buyers as they visited the factory to spec their own cars and is being offered for sale for the first time.

RM Sotheby’s also has announced that the buyer of the only road-going alloy 365 GTB/4 Daytona at the sale will not have to pay the costs of obtaining Ferrari Classiche certification; those fees will be paid by the car’s consignor.

Can a classic car auction generate more income in a weekend than a new car dealership does in a year?

I heard a stunning statistic while visiting one of the collector car auctions taking place during the recent Monterey Car Week. So stunning, in fact, that before reporting it, I had to verify the numbers.

An official of one of the auction companies mentioned that the company would do more business in a single weekend on the Monterey Peninsula than the typical new car dealership does in an entire year.

Is that possible? Can a collector car auction generate more in total sales in a single weekend than the typical new car dealership does in 12 months?

Turns out, it is true.

I contacted an editor at Automotive News, the weekly newspaper that covers the automotive production and sale industries, and she responded that according to the latest statistics released just last week by the National Auto Dealers Association, the average new car dealership generated $59.6 million in sales in 2016.

Of the six auctions taking place during the recent Monterey Car Week, two exceeded that $59.6 figure and a third was less than $3.2 million shy. A fourth did $34 million, which in new-car terms would be about half a year’s sales.

RM Sotheby’s did sales of nearly $133 million last month at Monterey

Let’s put it another way: The average new car dealership does about $1.15 million in sales per week. So does a classic car auction each time it sells just one 300 SL or Shelby Cobra or F40 or 929 or…

The NADA’s $59.6 million dealership is based on the average store, which in 2016 sold 928 new vehicles at an average of $34,449, plus used car sales, F&I (finance and insurance) and, I presume, service operations.

Note: According to the NADA, the average dealership’s pretax profit margin was just 2.5 percent, down from the previous two years, and in large part because of increases in rent, advertising and other expenses, especially salaries for service personnel. Like classic car restoration shops, new car dealerships face a shortage of skilled technical staff.

While the average collector car auction does not sell nearly 1,000 vehicles in an typical weekend, the average transaction price for collector cars tends to be well north of $34,500. For example, at the recent Monterey sales, the average selling price for collector vehicles was nearly $440,000, and the median price was more than $90,000

One more set of stats: According to the NADA report, the average used car sold in 2016 at new-car dealerships went to its new owner for $19,866.

But with the exception of an occasional 001 VIN being sold for charity, all of the cars sold at collector car auctions are, technically, “used” vehicles. So while volume is nice at new car dealerships, for collector car auctions, those six- and especially seven-figure transaction prices add up very quickly — and very nicely, it seems.