Category archives: Auctions

Hot rod that beat the horse in a race headed to auction

It’s the tale — or since there’s a horse involved, should it be that tail? — of the teenager’s hot rod that became famous for winning a race against a horse.

The 1932 Ford “Pete Henderson” Roadster that’s heading to RM Sotheby’s Hershey auction not only is a car that achieved a top speed of 120.9 mph on the Harper Dry Lake in 1944, but that same year gained fame when it won a race against a quarter horse that had a history of being faster than the fastest cars.

Pete Henderson helped verify this was his car | Karissa Hosek photo

The horse’s owner had won a series of bets that his animal could beat the fastest cars over a quarter-mile distance. The race against Henderson, who was just 18 years old, and his car was held at La Habra, in California’s Orange County, and drew a large crowd that included the likes of hot-rodding pioneers Vic Edelbrock Sr., Ed Winfield and others; the race photo was taken by Ernie McAfee.

Years later, noted hot-rodders said that the race between the car and the horse was where drag racing’s quarter-mile distance was established.

After its race against the horse, the car also was used in circle-track racing and appeared in several movies. It went through a series of owners but was purchased in 1977 by Chuck Longley, who wondered about its history and ran advertisements seeking more information. Among those responding was Henderson himself.

According to RM Sotheby’s, Henderson had bought the car as a teenager from Don Casselman. It came with a built, bored and stroked 296cid Mercury flathead V8 engine equipped with all sorts of early hot-rod parts, but still rode on its original wire wheels and used the mechanical brakes Ford had installed. Among its features was the dash panel from a 1934 Auburn.

It was the Auburn dash panel that helped Henderson realize the car had been his decades earlier.

The car retained its original frame, body and windshield. Longley and his son, Mike, located other period-correct pieces and began restoration to Henderson’s original setup in 1995.

After that restoration, the car won best-in-class honors at Amelia Island and also was honored at the Grand National Roadster show. Whitworth bought the car and planned to showcase it in a museum he planned to build. The car was invited to Pebble Beach but suffered damage during transport and was sent to rod and custom hall of famer Tim Strange’s shop in Tennessee for restoration.

It’s pre-sale estimated value is $160,000 to $180,000, according to RM Sotheby’s.

Mecum Auctions muscling into Louisville

Big-block muscle dominates as Mecum Auctions rolls in to Louisville, Kentucky, for the second year with an expected 700 collector vehicles crossing the block at the Kentucky Exposition Center from September 21-23.

Coming off the annual Dallas auction that resulted in $22.2 million in sales and a 70 percent sell-through rate, Mecum will offer a wide variety of muscle cars, classics, street rods, custom and sports cars during the three-day sale. Last year’s inaugural Louisville auction resulted in $13.4 million in sales, not including auction fees.

The 1969 Dodge Super Bee is powered by a 440 Six-Pack V8

The 2017 Kentucky auction will feature a triumvirate of top-drawer muscle cars from the Big Three:

A sunfire-yellow 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe (Lot S124) with original L68 Tri-Power 427/400-horspower V8 and M21 Muncie 4-speed manual transmission, is a two-time NCRS Top Flight winner with full documentation including its original tank sticker.

A 1969 Dodge Super Bee coupe (Lot S96) powered by a date-code-correct 440 six-pack V8, totally restored in Blue Metallic with just 48,135 miles on its odometer.

The 1969 Shelby GT500 Fastback is fully documented

A 1969 Shelby GT500 fastback (Lot S119) in Acapulco Blue, powered by the 428cid Ram Air Cobra Jet V8 and documented with two build sheets, a copy of the Shelby window sticker and a Marti Report.

For information about the Louisville auction, visit the Mecum website.

Duesenberg SJ sets Auctions America record, bringing $2.3 million at Auburn

Led by a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton that brought $2.3 million in a post-block transaction, Auctions America sold more than 500 vehicles at what appears to be its final sale — the 2017 Auburn Fall — this past weekend. The sell-through rate for collector vehicles was 72 percent and sales were more than $18.85 million.

In addition, more than 250 lots of automobilia were sold, bringing total sales for the weekend to nearly $19.2 million, the auction company announced.

The Duesenberg sales price was the highest in Auctions America’s history, the company said. During the sale, RM Sotheby’s founder and chief executive Rob Myers said that beginning next spring, the twice-a-year Auburn Auctions will be staged under the RM Sotheby’s banner. A similar move was made earlier this year regarding the Auctions America sale in Santa Monica, California.

1933 Duesenberg
1933 Duesenberg draws a huge crowd | RM Sotheby’s photo

That forthcoming move was apparent to visitors to the recent sale, with cars displayed along a red carpet at the sales area entrance and with large RM Sotheby’s-style vehicle illustrations along the walls. Gone to tented outdoor locations were the vendor booths that usually shared the entry way with the featured vehicles.

Auction setting has a definite RM Sotheby's atmosphere | Larry Edsall photo
Auction setting has a definite RM Sotheby’s atmosphere | Larry Edsall photo

The ’33 Duesenberg, with coachwork by LaGrande, also was known as the “Mexico City SJ.” Originally delivered to New York stock trader Bernard Smith, the car went to Mexico as part of an investment by Smith and his son in a horse racing facility, the Hippodrome de las Americas. The car returned to the U.S. in 1968 when purchased by a doctor from Alabama. Subsequent owners included prominent car collector, Gen. William Lyon.

The car’s pre-sale estimated value was $2.5 million to $3 million. The final sales price of $2.3 million includes the buyer’s premium.

The second-high seller at the auction was another Duesenberg, a 1929 Model J convertible coupe bodied by Fleetwood. It sold for $990,000.

The third-high sale was a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, a Bloomington Gold winner and the 127th of the 300 built for the sports car’s first model year.

Top 10 sales, Auctions America Auburn Fall 2017

    1. 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ “Sweep Panel” Phaeton by LaGrande, $2,300,000
    2. 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible coupe by Fleetwood, $990,000
    3. 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, $269,500
    4. 1937 Packard Twelve coupe roadster, $261,250
    5. 1958 Buick Limited convertible, $239,250
    6. 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Chevelle, $187,000
    7. 2003 Delahaye custom boattail speedster, $181,500
    8. 1936 Pierce-Arrow Twelve town car prototype by Derham, $170,500
    9. 1931 Cadillac V8 roadster by Fleetwood, $169,400
    10. 1932 Packard Eight sport phaeton, $166,100
        (Prices include buyer’s fees.)

Auctions America noted that the ’31 Cadillac was offered at no reserve and more than doubled its low pre-sale estimate. The ’58 Buick Limited was another no reserve offering that also sold well beyond its pre-sale expectation.

Among cars bid to top-10 numbers but not hammered sold because of seller’s reserves were a 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II drophead coupe ($340,000), a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray “Supernova” race car ($275,000), a 1983 Ferrari 512 BBI ($255,000) and a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 cabriolet ($250,000).

“We’re proud of our success in restoring the Auburn Auction Park and bringing the annual Auburn Spring and Fall events to new heights,” Donnie Gould, president of Auctions America, said in the post-sale news release.

“Thanks to our international marketing reach and in response to client demand, we’ve been able to continually increase the quality of cars on offer at Auburn Fall, which shone through this year in a 26 percent increase in the average sale price per lot.

“The Auburn Auction Park is rooted in collector car history. We have already invested significant resources in the Park and look forward to furthering this investment in an effort to elevate the client experience and seamlessly serve the entire spectrum of the collector car market.

“The RM Group of Companies, myself included, is a team driven by passion. My own passion is one ignited by my late father, Tiny Gould, who was responsible for the modern classic car auction. My father brought me to the Auburn Auction Park from a young age and it’s a place I’ve associated with my entire career. The twice-a-year Auburn sales will continue the great collector car tradition that fuels Auburn, Indiana, and I look forward to being part of the team that draws even more new interest to this hobby we all love.”

In the release, Myers added:“I have been coming to Auburn for more than 30 years, both on my own and with the RM Group of Companies, and I have no plans of stopping. The Auburn Auction Park and the events we hold here are an integral part of our business. We are deeply committed to continuing this great tradition and putting on an even more successful Auburn Fall in 2018.

“We look forward to sharing further details later this year.”


Primo classic, muscle-car collections featured at Mecum’s Dallas auction

The 33-car Bruce Church collection of pre-war classic cars (and a handful of more-modern cars) highlights the seventh annual Mecum Auctions sale in Dallas. One thousand muscle cars, classics, rods, customs and exotics are expected for the auction at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center from September 6-9.

A Wilkesboro, North Carolina, businessman who died in 2016, Church’s 35 years of collecting will be reflected in the Dallas auction by an enviable group of restored collector cars from 1929 through 1940 and several street rods built from cars of the same era.

Featured among the Church cars are “several comprehensively restored CCCA Full Classic and AACA Senior award-winning Packards, among them a 1934 Packard Eight 1101 Coupe Roadster that was displayed at the Boca Raton Concours in 2011 and a 1932 Packard Eight 902 Coupe,” according to a Mecum news release.

Mecum Auctions Dallas 2017
The 1970 Buick GS Stage 1 from the Matt Wagoner collection

A number of classic Fords in original and street-rodded condition are also available from the Church collection, including a 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible and a 1934 Ford Deluxe Phaeton.

The Dallas auction also will feature cars from a few other standout collections, such as that of Matt Wagoner that boasts four spectacular examples of premier GM muscle cars: : a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS454 LS6, 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30, 1970 Pontiac GTO Ram Air IV and a 1970 Buick GS Stage 1.

Some of the collections to be auctioned in Dallas are offered entirely without reserves, including the Kingston collection of 21 American muscle cars and modern supercars, 17 cars from the estate of Freddie “Mack” Widmer and 11 vehicles from the James Hoyo collection.

Mecum Auctions announced last week that the Dallas auction would proceed as planned despite the devastating flooding in Houston and nearby Gulf Coast areas. The Dallas area was not hit by Hurricane Harvey.

For information about Mecum’s Dallas sale, visit the auction website.

Ex-Coulthard, Hakkinen cars headed to auction

Cars driven by former McLaren F1 teammates David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen will cross the block Thursday at Coys’ Thoroughbred & Vintage auction Thursday at Fonwell House, just up the road from the Goodwood Revival meeting in England.

One car is a 2008 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG that Hakkinen drove after he retired from F1 competition. The other is a 1958 Austin A35 that Coulthard drove up the hill in the Goodwood Revival in 2016.

2008 Mercedes Benz
Mike Hakkinen’s post-F1 driver

“The Coulthard-Hakkinen partnership was synonymous of McLaren racing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and now these two cars driven by them will share the share the spotlight at Coys auction,” Coys chief executive Chris Routledge said in a news release. “This is a rare opportunity to own cars with genuine provenance and a special piece of motorsport history attached to it.”

In addition to Coulthard’s run up the hills at Goodwood, the Austin was driven at the Silverstone Classic Celebrity Challenge earlier this year by boxer Carl Froch, and frequently has carried its drivers to the podium at vintage racing events.

Coys notes that the car was built in 2016 to HRDC Academy racing series regulations using a 1958 donor vehicle. The recent build and rules “make it highly competitive and easy to drive,” the auction house promised.

The racing suit worn and signed by Coulthard is included in the car’s sale.

The ’08 CL65 AMG also bears Hakkinen’s autograph.

Monterey auctions post $317 million in total sales

A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa is on the block at Russo and Steele's Monterey auction | Bob Golfen photo
A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa is on the block at Russo and Steele’s Monterey auction | Bob Golfen photos

After four days, six auctions and 1,277 vehicles across the block, the final hammer has fallen on the 2017 collector car auctions on the Monterey Peninsula and the total tote stands at $317 million according to Hagerty, the classic car insurance and vehicle valuation-tracking company that provides daily updates from major auction venues.

Hagerty reports that while that $317 million figure is better than was expected by its marketplace experts, it falls 6 percent short of 2016 results for Monterey auctions. And it also figures to increase slightly as post-sales transactions are included when the auction companies report the official results in the coming week. Continue reading

Andy’s picks at Bonhams’ 2017 Monterey auction

This Ferrari 288 GTO is among the cars Andy would love to take home from Bonhams' sale at The Quail
This Ferrari 288 GTO is among the cars Andy would love to take home from Bonhams’ sale at The Quail

I remember my first trip to Monterey Car Week in 2001, and going to the Bonhams auction and discovering a variety of cars at various price points, everything from full classics and classic sports cars to wonderous supercars and race cars. Continue reading

What Larry likes at Mecum’s 2017 Monterey auction

Mecum Auctions seems to have something to satisfy every automotive taste | Larry Edsall photos
Mecum Auctions seems to have something to satisfy every automotive taste | Larry Edsall photos

Many of the 600 or so vehicles that will start crossing the block as early as Wednesday afternoon had not been unloaded when we wandered through the huge tents and around the fairways of the Hyatt Regency Monterey hotel and spa that provides the venue for Mecum Auctions annual sale during Monterey Car Week. But there was still plenty of sheet metal to see and to appreciate, and to share some of it here to whet your appetite, and perhaps even your urge to raise your hand once the bidding begins. Continue reading

Vintage Ford tractor tops Mecum Gone Farmin’ sale

Aluminum-hood 1939 Ford 9N brings $31,500 at auction | Mecum photos
Aluminum-hood 1939 Ford 9N brings $31,500 at auction | Mecum photos

Collector cars weren’t the only features on the docket for Mecum Auctions’ recent visit to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The auction house’s Gone Farmin’ division offered more than 130 vintage, collectible tractors at its Summer Showcase sale at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. Continue reading

Analysis: It’s become a buyer’s market, but for how long?

Cars such as this 1971 Pontiac Trans-Am are popular with a new generation of bidders | Auctions America photo

Monterey Car Week is coming up quickly and a lot has been happening in the classic car auction marketplace leading up to what serves as the Super Bowl of the auction year.

In recent weeks, we have had the Auctions America sale in northern Indiana, the Mecum auction at Indy, RM Sotheby’s at Santa Monica and the Barrett-Jackson Northeast sale in Connecticut.

Our analysis: If you are in the hunt for a car priced at $150,000 or less, including a lot less, this has definitely become a buyer’s market. Continue reading