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Resource Guide
Auction Central
By Larry Edsall
Back to Community

Their makers may be gone, but orphaned cars shouldn't be forgotten
By Larry Edsall

Orphans Does your area have an orphan car show?

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Before talking about orphan car shows, we should define the term "orphan car."

An orphan car is a car whose maker no longer is in the business of making cars. Obvious marques include Packard, Hudson (see photo), Nash, Studebaker, DeLorean, Triumph and Yugo. Also included are brands that have been discontinued even though their parent company remains in business. For example, DeSoto, Edsel, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Plymouth.

Some folks are willing to include cars from overseas automakers that no longer have dealership outlets in the United States. Examples of this category include Peugeot, Renault and Opel.

And there are always exceptions to the rule. In the case of orphan car shows, the exception I've seen most often is the maligned but much-loved Chevrolet Corvair, which usually is eligible for such shows even though General Motors and the Chevrolet brand remain in business.

Regardless of how you want to define them, orphans are cars without a corporate parent around to care for the brand, so its up to the classic car community to support them.

Perhaps the most important of orphan car shows is the one held each September in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in conjunction with that city's automotive heritage museum. A Google search showed other orphan car shows from Bothel, Washington, to Golden, Colorado and from Branson, Missouri to Yellow Springs, Ohio.

However, perhaps the oldest of orphan car shows is the one held each October here in Phoenix. This year's event was the 22nd annual. What also makes the annual orphan gathering in Phoenix special is that it raises money for real orphans and other children in need at the Sunshine Acres Children's Home, the "miracle in the desert" which since 1954 has provided shelter to some 1600 children.

And it used to be, before child welfare laws were changed, that the Phoenix orphan car show would end with the cars being driven out to the children's home to present a check and so the children could see the cars.

Mecum Fall auction surpasses $12 million

Mecum's Fall Premier auction at St. Charles, Illinois, generated more than $12 million in sales with a 60-percent sell-through of the more than 950 vehicles that crossed the block.

While the high-dollar sale was $160,000 for a 12-year-old Prevost Country Coach motorhome, four cars also reached six figures: a 1937 Chevrolet street rod brought $125,000, a 1997 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo S sold for $111,000, and a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette and a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 each went for $100,000.

Off the block, Mecum, Discovery Education and the Velocity channel hosted three-dozen high school and junior high students and their mentors for a scavenger hunt that not only gave them a behind-the-scenes look at the auction, but demonstrated the importance of STEM skills -- science, technology, engineering and math.

Mecum debuts in Southern California

Mecum's next event will be its first in Southern California's rich and historic car culture with more than 750 vehicles being offered November 15-17 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Among the featured lots are one of 201 1956 Chevrolet Chevelle Z16s, the 1932 McMullen Roadster which was on the April 1963 cover of Hot Rod magazine, and the 1936 Ford Calori Coupe that won its class at Pebble Beach in 2007. Don "The Snake" Prudhomme also is selling two cars from his personal collection -- the first funny car to reach 315 miles per hour in a quarter-mile sprint and the "Gold Snake" Camaro.

Charlie Thomas Collection Charlie Thomas collection brings $7.4 million

Among other things, banker and auto dealer Charlie Thomas used to own the Houston Rockets professional basketball team during their Twin Towers heyday with Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. And until last month, he also owned nearly 200 classic American cars he'd collected over a period of two decades.

But Thomas had RM Auctions disburse his collection in a one-day sale that generated more than $7.4 million with some 175 of his cars going to new owners.

Leading the sale was $143,000 for a one-off 1946 Chrysler Town & Country roadster (see photo) that was built from plans for a model that Chrysler designed but never put into production.

A 1954 Packard Caribbean convertible brought $132,000, a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette convertible went for $126,500 and a 1947 Cadillac Series 62 convertible sold for $121,000.

The auction featured a 100-percent sell-through rate with all proceeds going to the Brookwood Community, a non-profit residential facility and vocational program for adults with disabilities.

Leake wraps up 40-year celebration

Jim Leake Sr. held his first classic car auction in 1964. However, it wasn't until 1972 that he began staging such an event on an annual basis. Therefore, the Leake Auction Co. wraps up its 40th annual sales season November 16-18 with some 550 classic and exotic cars crossing the block in Dallas, Texas.

Among the featured cars at Dallas are a 1929 LaSalle, 1934 Cadillac, 1938 Cadillac-powered Packard, and a 1964 Lincoln Continental formerly owned by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

McCormick's offers 500 cars at Palm Springs

More than 500 classic cars will cross the block at the semi-annual McCormick's Collector Car Auction scheduled for November 16-18 in Palm Springs, California. Keith McCormick has been staging twice-a-year sales in Palm Springs for some 26 years, with events each February and November.

"Who wouldn't want to visit Palm Springs every November and February to wander the rows of these timeless pieces of history in search of that rare find - that special Palm Springs 'barn car'?" McCormick said.

Click here for event calendar.


Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.

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