I’d never attended one of Leake Auction Company’s sales before, and excluding the night my flight itinerary included changing planes at DFW International, I’d only been to Dallas once before, and that was to cover a college football bowl game back in the mid-1970s. Yet I felt amazingly at home at Leake’s recent auction at Dallas Market Hall.
The reason, I realized immediately, was the people. I never met James Leake, the late founder of the company, but his daughter, Nancy, her husband, Richard Sevenoaks, and their family are wonderful and gracious folks. I’d interviewed “Oaks,” as he’s known, several times, and I liked the fact that he always refers to his father-in-law as “Mr. Leake.”
I got to know Nancy and her daughter, Audrey Young, this spring when we were Shriners Hospitals for Children teammates on the ELK Charity Challenge road rally. Not only were Nancy and Audrey generous in sharing pastries in the morning, but on more than one occasion, they pointed my driving partner Tim Colceri and me back in the right direction when we were about to become hopelessly confused and lost while trying to solve the puzzles that would lead us to the next destination on the route.
And then in August, the Sevenoaks not only invited me to the amazing lunch they provide for all the behind-the-scenes workers — the transport truck drivers and car detailers — during Monterey Car Week, but they provided refuge for Bob Golfen and me in their hospitality suite overlooking the show field at the Pebble Beach concours d’elegance.
A key member of the Tulsa-based Leake auction team is Andy Stone. Andy and I joke that while we both live in Phoenix, the only time we see each other is at car events hundreds or even a thousand of miles from home. It was Andy who convinced me to do the ELK Challenge, and I’ll be forever grateful to him for that and for the people I met there, people including the late Margaret Dunning, the grand dame of American classic car collecting.
In fact, Leake’s Dallas auction was something of an ELK reunion, with at least nine or 10 of us there for the auction, including Tom and Colette Souter. You might know Tom as “Roundman” from his frequent appearances on Car Chasers, the television show staring the Souters’ son, Jeff Allen, and his wife, Meg.
Jeff and Meg own the Flat 12 Gallery, a classic car dealership in Dallas, which also is home to a couple of other car-collecting celebrities I met at the auction — Richard Rawlings of the Gas Monkey Garage and the Fast N’ Loud TV show and JD Cole of the Dallas Car Sharks show.
Like the Sevenoaks, the Souters fit the term “good people,” the sort you just enjoy being around, especially when Colette points out how, once again, Roundman was selling her car, a 3-Series BMW, right out from under her at the Leake auction.
The auction began on Friday, and the bidders really got into it that evening, especially when the guys from the Gas Monkey Garage sold a string of motorcycles they’d built and customized and when Rawlings sold the vintage Packard he’d taken to Pebble Beach in August.
The sell-through on Saturday slumped to around 52 percent, largely it seemed because people were setting their reserves too high for the current classic car marketplace.
But Sunday was stunning. Leake tried something new, a “collectors showcase” featuring some 120 cars offered at no reserve. Twenty-six of the cars came from one collection and several other collectors sent around a dozen cars each to the sale. The expectation was that some would sell very well, others might go as bargains, but that the consignors profit overall, the new owners would be happy with their purchases, and everyone would go home happy.
The bidders sure appeared to be happy with the format. Late on Sunday morning — as one person noted, “even before church was out” — seats were filled. The pace of the bidding quickened, to the point that cars seemed to stop on the block only momentarily before the prices peaked and the auctioneer announced “sold!”
Photos by Larry Edsall