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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

Something fishy at the Petersen, where Jaguars are on the prowl
By Larry Edsall

1928 fishing season disaster blames state DMV Did you know that the 1928 fishing season was a disaster in Massachusetts and residents blamed the state's Dept. of Motor Vehicles?

Turns out that in 1928, the DMV added a fish symbol to the state's auto license plates, but the fish was pointed away from the word "Mass."

After the anglers' uproar, the person who designed that 1928 plate was fired and the following year the fish pointed toward the state's name and the fishing industry prospered.

Such tales are part of the new "License Plates: Unlocking the Code" exhibit that runs through March 30, 2014 at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

Officially, the exhibit celebrates the centennial of the first State of California license plate, but it includes plates from across the country and around the world. (As early as 1909, the Automobile Club of Southern California and the American Automobile Association produced license plates for California drivers, with the state taking over the business in 1914.)

By the way, did you know that until 1972, each Argentine province had its own unique plate design, and those from the Neuguen region featured a water fall and were hand painted?

"There really is educational value to each plate in this display," said Jeff Minard, a license plate historian who worked with the museum on the display. "At the same time, time, these unique pieces are displayed as art for everyone to enjoy."

Fishy Petersen Also new to the Petersen -- opening last weekend and running through February 16, 2014, is a special Jaguar sports car exhibit that showcases a 1937 SS100 formerly owned by entertainer Mel Torme, a 1949 XK120 used in the movie Gangster Squad, a 1956 XKSS formerly owned by Steve McQueen, a 1965 E-Type used in the television show Mad Men, and a 2014 F-type V8 S.

Miami museum displays the Dezer Collection

Nearly 50 recently obtained classic cars comprise a special display at the Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection. The cars range from a 1910 Ford Model T roadster to a 1930 Citroen C6 Torpedo and from the Maharaja of Mysore's 1949 Bentley Mark VI Sedanca coupe by Hooper to a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette.

The museum spans some 250,000 square feet and includes more than 1,000 vehicles. Special displays include Hollywood star cars and a James Bond exhibition.

For details, visit www.dezercollection.com.

Classics from different generations top Mecum's KC auction

Two classics from different generations -- a 1931 Cadillac V12 convertible coupe and a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda coupe -- led the sales parade at Mecum Auctions' season-ending December sale in Kansas City.

The Fleetwood-bodied, rumble-seated Cadillac sold for $175,000 and the "Cuda, a numbers-matching R-code car restored in its original Alpine White color, brought $160,000.

Other top sales at the event were $155,000 for a 2000 Prevost Country Coach motorhome, $107,500 for a 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 Twister special and $105,000 for a 1967 Shelby GT350 Mustang.

Another '70 Mach 1 Twister went for $82,000. One difference between those Twisters (special models originally sold through dealers in Ford's Kansas City sales district): The $107,500 car carried a 428 Cobra Jet engine; the $82,000 car was equipped with a 351-cid engine.

Overall, the auction sold 677 lots, at 68.25 sell-through percentage, for a total of nearly $11.5 million.

Silver in Arizona There aren't a lot of Silver dollars in Arizona

The sell-through rate at Mitch Silver's inaugural Arizona in the Fall auction was only 26 percent. Seems consignors valued their vehicles more than the snowbirds looking for something to drive during the winter months.

The sale was scheduled with an eye on offering cars that could serve as classy daily drivers for Arizona's winter visitors, cars they might turn around and consign themselves next spring when Silver does a similar auction just before the ‘birds fly home for the summer.

But in many cases -- too many cases -- the bids offered fell just short of the owners' reserve prices.

The high-dollar sale of the weekend was $55,000 for a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. A 1968 Camaro RS/SS convertible brought $32,500, a 2008 BMW 550Li went for $29,600, a 1961 Pontiac Catalina convertible $29,000 and a 1957 Pontiac Star Chief hardtop traded ownership for $28,000.

Silver is back in Arizona in January for its big annual sale, and returns for its spring event in March. Silver also is working on a possible sale in the Phoenix area during the summer, though that one would be in an air-conditioned building, not outdoors in a tent.

Early Mercedes brings nearly $1.18 million at Coys auction

One of the oldest surviving Mercedes still complete and roadworthy -- a 1905 Mercedes Simplex 28/30 HP Phaeton -- sold for nearly $1.18 million at Coys' True Greats auction in London.

"This Mercedes, which is nearly 110 years old, could be the ultimate Christmas present [and] will go up in value," said Chris Routledge, managing partner of Coys, which stages its next sale January 11 in conjunction with the Autosport International racing car show in Birmingham, England.

Coys said the Mercedes was purchased by a prominent Eastern European collector.

Author's note

At least for awhile, after more than 200 of these missives the last four years or so, this is the last "Cruisin' with Larry" column for the www.classiccars.com website.

Don't fret, faithful readers. We're not leaving, but starting December 16, we'll be doing a daily (Monday through Friday) blog featuring not just my words but those from other reporters and columnists as well.

Please stay tuned.

Click here for event calendar.

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