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Resource Guide
Auction Central
By Larry Edsall
Back to Community

The Jolson Jolt: $6,600 Packard goes for $1.1 million at RM
By Larry Edsall

Larry Edsall at When entertainer Al Jolson took delivery of his 1932 Packard Twin Six individual custom convertible sedan, he paid $6,600 for the car. When that same car sold at the RM Auction held in conjunction with the Concours d'Elegance of America at Plymouth, Mich., last week, someone paid $1.1 million for the vehicle.

That single sale represented nearly 15 percent of the gross proceeds of an auction that sold nearly 85 percent of the 70 available vehicles for a total of more than $7.6 million.

Think auction houses don't know their markets? The auction was held very near Detroit, the Motor City, and included plenty of made-in-Detroit, or at least in Michigan, vehicles, including 13 Packards, nine each of Cadillacs and Fords, five each of Lincolns and Oldsmobiles, four Chryslers, but only 10 vehicles total from non-domestic brands.

The auction also included one Pontiac, but a very special Pontiac indeed.

For the 1939 New York World's Fair, General Motors and Rohm & Haas, which pioneered the development of Plexiglas, combined to create a see-through Pontiac Deluxe Six, with “sheetmetal” made entirely of the then-new see-through material.

After the world's fair, the car toured Pontiac dealerships and even spent some time in the Smithsonian Institution before ending up in private hands, including ownership by one family from the early 1980s until it crossed the block at RM, where it sold for $308,000.

Other top sales at the auction included a 1929 Duesenberg Model J convertible Berline for $704,000, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL gullwing for $676,500 and a 1934 Model J boattail speedster Dusie for $506,000.

Larry Edsall at Dusie, Mercedes Autobahn Kurier best-in-show at Detroit's concours
As mentioned, the auction was held in conjunction with the Concours d'Elegance of America, which after 32 years at Meadow Brook Hall, former home to the widow of one of the Dodge brothers, moved to a former Roman Catholic seminary-turned-conference center.

The new location provided more room -- including two key features: an on-site hotel for people displaying their cars and shaded viewing of the reviewing stand for spectators.

With some much room, organizers came up with some clever new classes. In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, historic Indy cars were arrayed three-abreast and more than nine rows deep as though on the starting grid.

There also was a huge field celebrating the 125th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz, the largest group of Model A Duesenbergs gathered in recent memory, a class to celebrate 100 years of Chevrolet, even a class for cars that have won the Ridler Award at Detroit's big hot-rod show, the Autorama.

A new and annual feature of the concours will be a tribute to a significant car designer. This year, 10 cars designed or influenced by the late Chuck Jordan were assembled with help from General Motors, where Jordan worked for more than half of his 83 years.

Larry Edsall at Concours d'Elegance of America annually gives two best-in-show awards, one to a domestic vehicle, one to one produced overseas, and the concours ends with those vehicles parked front bumper-to-front bumper in front of the reviewing stand. This year the awards went to a 1933 Duesenberg SJ Riviera Phaeton owned by John Groendyke of Enid, Okla., and a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 500K Autobahn Kurier owned by Arturo and Deborah Keller of Colonia Tlacapac, Mexico.

Houston to host Texas concours
Speaking on concours, the La Torretta Lake resort on Lake Conroe just north of downtown Houston will be the site next May 6 of the inaugural Concours d'Elegance of Texas. Manager of the event will be Lolly Bezy, who was executive director of the Concours d'Elegance of America when it was held at Meadow Brook Hall.

"Texas is home to many of the more notable automobile collections and there has long been a need for a premier concours event here in the state," Bezy said.

Hot rods and custom panel subject Auburn
Yes, we know we've yet to do a preview of Monterey and here we are jumping ahead of Labor Day, but we wanted to let you know that the Auctions America by RM, held annually at Auburn, Indiana, will feature a hot rod and custom car panel discussion/seminar September 2 featuring Darryl Starbird, John D'Agostino, Bob Huff, Chuck Miller and Joe Bortz.

Click here for event calendar.


Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.

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