Richard Sevenoaks sounded perplexed.
“The model traditionally for our auction is that we get half of the cars, build the brochure and then get the other half as a result of the brochure,” said the president of Leake Auction Company.
“But what happened this year with our Dallas sale is that we got 500 cars prior to the brochure. We’re turning cars down!”
Leake is turning away cars for its auction November 20-22 because there’s only room at Dallas Market Hall for around 600 cars, and that’s with 100 of them not on display in the main facility but in a parking garage.
“I’m not sure what’s going on,” Sevenoaks said, “but I see other auctions struggling to get cars. (But) we’re filled to the brim. We’re trying to figure out how we did it.”
Actually, Sevenoaks knows exactly how this happened.
“I think what’s happened is that by having five people on the road all the time, it’s starting to bear fruit,” he said of Leake’s efforts to send out key personnel to personally call on collectors with more cars than they really need, and to visit cars-and-coffee style gatherings.
“I don’t know if we’re getting to the saturation point (with the number of collector car auctions across the country,” Sevenoaks said. But he does know that consigners “don’t want to be treated like a number.” He said many consignors are limited in the number of sales to which they take cars each year, and Leake’s “personal touch” seems to be keeping its auctions on many car owners’ lists.
Leake also has concentrated its face-to-face efforts with collectors rather than classic car dealers, Sevenoaks added. The effort has paid off, he said, noting that one collector is sending 25 cars to be the basis of Leake’s new no-reserve Sunday sale, which will offer 100 cars without reserves.
“The other concept, and we’re going to base it on the Klairmont Kollection (at its June auction in Tulsa, Leake sold 150 cars at no reserve from Larry Klairmont’s collection, which helped boost the Tulsa event to $11.7 million in sales and a 74 percent sell-through), is to get into the no-reserve business on Sunday,” Sevenoaks said. “People (consignors) are willing to try it and see how it works.”
Sevenoaks said that when he started working for Leake, “Sunday was the day. Everybody was there. Saturday was OK and Friday was an afterthought.
“So we developed the concept of a no-commission Friday, just charged a flat rate. That built Friday but collapsed Sunday. Now we’re knocking on wood that this no-reserve concept will work for us.”
Leake will retain another “new” tradition that it introduced last year at Dallas – a special offering on Saturday of Platinum Series (high-end) cars that helped push total sales last year at Dallas to $10.5 million.
Leading that Platinum group this year at Dallas is a 1929 Packard 645 Deluxe Eight Rollston Roadster that was built for display at the 1928 New York Auto Show. The car’s original owner kept it until 1965 when it was purchased by the nephew of Packard engineer Col. Jesse Vincent. The nephew owned the car until his death in 2011.
Sevenoaks has been pursuing the car for a Leake Auction and might have had it earlier had the organizers of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance not called the car’s owner and invited the car, the only surviving Rollston 640 Roadster, to be shown there in August.
Among other highlights of the docket are several Porsches — including a 1959 356A, 1965 356C, 1968 911 Targa and 1971 911E — from an Oklahoma-based collection. “We’ve chased him for years to get these cars,” Sevenoaks said.
Also offered at the sale are a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air resto-mod by Marty Robinson, a 1935 Chrysler Auburn boattail speedster powered by a 5.7-liter Hemi V8, a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham with stainless steel roof, an AACA award-winning 1959 DeSoto Firedome convertible, a variety of collectible pickup trucks and several Toyota Land Cruisers and Jeeps, among others.
“Kids of the 1990s wanted four-wheel-drive Jeeps or Toyotas and that group is coming into the market now and they want those vehicles,” Sevenoaks said.
The auction begins Thursday night with a VIP reception at the Gas Monkey Garage made famous in a Discovery Channel television show.