Opposite ends of the classic car hobby were featured the weekend of October 10 at what figure to be the final major auctions of the 2009 North American "season" - the 2nd annual Barrett-Jackson event at Las Vegas and RM's Vintage Motor Cars of Hershey.
Barrett-Jackson was about collector cars and stars while RM's focus was more classic in vintage.
The top sale at Barrett-Jackson's even in the Mandalay Bay resort and casino's event center was $440,000 for an original 1965 Shelby Cobra.
An "Iacocca 45th Anniversary" edition of the 2009 Ford Mustang, one of 45 built to celebrate former Ford executive Lee Iacocca's role in the creation of the original pony car, went for $352,000.
The prototype for a potential run of as many as 100 Ford Shelby GT500 Super Snake Prudhomme Edition Mustangs brought $302,500. The car is corroboration between Carroll Shelby and drag racing superstar Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and features a 750-horsepower, 5.4-liter supercharged Ford engine that gains another 50 horsepower when run on racing fuel.
Also auctioned were one of Jay Leno's motorcycles (which brought $120,000 for an inner-city charity Leno supports); vehicles owned by Bruce Willis and Don Johnson; Ol' Yaller VIII, Max Balchowky's Jaguar-based racecar that was featured in the Elvis Presley movie, Viva Las Vegas; and replicas of the Batmobiles and of the Barney Fife/Mayberry sheriff's car.
Perhaps the biggest surprises were the $110,000 someone paid for the faux sheriff's car from the TV series and the fact that the historic and vintage racing-ready Ol' Yaller brought only $198,000.
Of course, since Barrett-Jackson is a no-reserve auction house, all of the more than 400 vehicles sold. But so did 94 percent of the lots at RM's event, held in conjunction with the popular AACA Eastern Division Fall Meet.
The top sale at RM was $517,000 for a 1931 Marmon Sixteen convertible coupe. A 1933 Cadillac V16 convertible Victoria went for $412,500. The Cadillac was remarkable in at least three ways: It originally was owned by actor Robert Montgomery, it was one of just two built, and it was sold in unrestored condition.
The third-highest price paid wasn't for a car but was the $297,000 spent for an historic Miller 91 front-drive engine. The sales amount was three times the pre-auction estimated price.
A 1920 Mercer Series 5 Sporting brought $242,000, a 1949 Belanger Special Indy 500 racer went for $192,500, and a 1930 Bugatti Type 44 Touring got $187,000.
Heavenly cars up for auction
While the Barrett-Jackson and RM events round out the schedule of major auctions for the year, I suggest we all keep an eye on Mecum's upcoming liquidation auction of the 57 Heaven Museum's collection, scheduled for October 24 in the Dick Clark Theater in Branson, Missouri. With the museum closing its doors, 57 Heaven could produce some helluva good buys for bidders.
Barrett-Jackson adds fourth event
During its second annual auction in Las Vegas, Barrett-Jackson announced that it will add a fourth auction to its schedule in 2010. The new event will be held in Costa Mesa, California, at the Orange County Fair & Event Center. The date will be either June 25-27 or July 1-3. Of course, the other Barrett-Jackson auctions take place in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Palm Beach, Florida.
Russo and Steele auction eyes China
Russo and Steele auctions also made a significant announcement, signing a memorandum of understanding for a joint venture with China Auto Logistics Inc. (CALI) to develop a Russo and Steele collector car auction business in China. CALI is a leading seller of high-end luxury import vehicles in the Chinese market.
Russo and Steele owner Drew Alcazar noted that not only has China become the largest new car market in the world, but is showing an increasing interest in collector cars.
49 states in less than 9 days
Dave Schaub's idea was to drive into the 49 states reachable by roadway and to do it in nine days. If you think that sounds like a hard-driving goal, consider that Schaub planned to do it in a 1932 Roy Brizio-built, Edelbrock Chevy V8-powered 1932 Ford roadster.
Schaub's trip was a fund-raiser for the Ronald McDonald House in Stanford, California.
According to Old Cars Weekly, Schaub not only met his goal but exceeded it, completing the drive in eight days, 16 hours and 48 minutes.
Schaub started in Needles, California, and headed east toward Florida, then north to New England, then hit northern states on his way west, ending his leg by driving through British Columbia to Hyder, Alaska.
Schaub built up his own stamina before the trip with a walking for exercise program, was careful about what he ate and installed a larger fuel tank in his hot rod. He stopped every night, scheduling five hours of sleep before heading back out onto the road.
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