Auction helps save military museum and creates room for more displays
By Larry Edsall
Dean Kruse may have stumbled in the late stages of his career as a classic car auctioneer, but his dream of a museum preserving American military machinery not only will live on but will be able to expand in scope in the aftermath of an auction at what is now known as the National Military History Center in Auburn, Indiana.
Kruse searched throughout Europe to find tanks, trucks, rocket launchers and other military equipment used in World War II but discarded after the war. He bought nearly 200 vehicles and was ready to ship them to the museum he was building in northeastern Indiana when 911 occurred.
In the aftermath, instead of merely shipping his purchases, Kruse needed an act of Congress to allow the import of his used military equipment. But the bill passed and Kruse's purchases arrived and his museum opened.
However, along with the rest of his holdings, the museum suffered financial setbacks and faced a mortgage of some $2.9 million. To pay that mortgage, keep the museum operating and to make room for military equipment not only from WWII but from other wars, including the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars, the museum staged an auction, selling some 80 vehicles -- nearly half of Kruse's collection -- as well as WWII uniforms and other military gear from that era.
The auction, managed by Auctions America by RM, generated hammer sales of more than $2.97 million.
The top sales included $200,000 for a Daimler-Benz DB10 half-track troop carrier, $160,000 for a Haromag armored 3/4 track, $150 for a Horch 4x4 cross-country personnel car, and $145 for a Borgward half-track.
Several of the pieces were bought for display at a museum in Europe. Several bidders said they participate in WWII battle reenactments that are becoming popular in the United States. (One man said his son and daughter-in-law are re-enactors -- medic and nurse -- and that he wants to participate as well, but not as an infantryman and that people who bring veteran vehicles to such events automatically earn higher rank.)
Others bidders said they planned to drive their purchases in parades and to display them at shows and other events. Still others said they simply wanted the 4x4 capabilities of the retired military equipment to enjoy on land they owned.
Vicari does $1.3 million at New Orleans
Vicari's third annual New Orleans Classic Auto Festival auction generated $1.3 million in sales of more than 100 classic and muscle cars.
Top sales were $75,000 for 1961 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, $72,000 for a 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL roadster, $70,000 for a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible, and $68,000 for a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro coupe.
Take the bus... to Blytheville, Arkansas
A national exhibition of antique buses and coaches converted into motor homes will be held April 4-6, 2013, at the historic Greyhound bus terminal in Blytheville, Arkansas. The event is called "Ghosts of Highway 61, Dixie Tour 2013."
Among the coaches scheduled to participate is the recently restored 1949 Flxible DuMont Television "Telecruiser" that is believed to have been used as a mobile unit for ABC-affiliate KBTV Channel 8 of Dallas coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.
For more information, see www.ghostsofhtehighway.com, from which we borrow the photo of the '49 Flxible DuMont unit.
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