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Auction Central
By Larry Edsall
Back to Community

Bob Lichty goes home again, and classic car community benefits
By Larry Edsall

Bob Lichty Not only has Bob Lichty proven that you can go home again, but he's done much to make his hometown of Canton, Ohio, an important stop for classic car enthusiasts.

Canton, of course, is the birthplace of the National Football League, but as Lichty likes to point out, the sports league's birthplace wasn't just any old place in Canton, but those contracts were signed in the Hupmobile dealership owned by Ralph Hay, who in addition to being a car dealer owned the famed Canton Bulldogs football team.

As a youngster in Canton, Lichty's passion wasn't football but automobiles, old ones such as the bygone Hupmobile and new ones like the heavily chromed Detroit creations of his 1950s and early ‘60s childhood. In fact, Lichty was so fascinated by those cars that after high school he studied graphic design at the Cooper School of Art in Cleveland in hopes of someday landing a job as a designer for one of the Detroit's automakers.

Bob Lichty Instead, he was offered a job creating designs for a carpet manufacturer in upstate New York. Fortunately for Lichty and the future of classic car collecting, not long after Lichty was hired the company moved to South Carolina. Lichty was given a choice -- keep you job and move or accept six-month's pay as severance.

Lichty took the money and, basically, spent 5 1/2 months bumming around New England. Then, his cash running low, he called the publisher of Hemmings Motor News and asked about working for the magazine that recently had moved to Vermont.

Not only was Lichty hired, but was made assistant publisher, which, he quickly discovered, meant being a jack of all trades, from advertising to typesetting to writing to supervising a staff of college students who worked part time, and seemingly at their whim. It was exhausting, but oh-so-much fun.

When a new magazine was launched in Wisconsin, Lichty was recruited to become advertising manager of Old Cars Weekly. After nearly a decade there, Lichty became marketing director for Kruse Auctions, the Indiana classic car sales specialist that was just entering its heyday.

From northeastern Indiana, Lichty next moved to eastern Pennsylvania, to become a manager with Carlisle Productions, which stages some of the largest classic car auto shows in the country. Then, from the East Coast, Lichty moved to the East Bay, to join the team at the famed Blackhawk Collection.

Lichty liked the work, but the Oakland area wasn't good for his young sons, whom by then he was pretty much raising as a recently divorced single father. Putting family ahead of his profession/hobby, Lichty quit and decided to go back home so he could raise his sons in a better environment, one that included extended family and friends.

As Lichty and his sons were driving east across Nebraska, he stopped and, as was his habit, bought the latest copy of Hemmings. As he thumbed through the pages, he noticed an advertisement: The Canton Classic Car Museum was looking for a new director. Lichty was hired immediately upon his return home, where he strengthened the museum's place in the community by going out and finding a Hupmobile for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to add to its display.

After nearly a decade at the car museum, Lichty launched a classic car dealership (with partner Gary Brown). Lichty continues to run Motorcar Portfolio, which operates out of an almost unique showroom; the dealership is located inside Canton's historic McKinley Grand Hotel (we say "almost unique" because there are at least two other hotel-based dealerships, both in Las Vegas, where the Imperial Palace houses a classic car dealership and the Wyn has a Ferrari dealership).

Lichty's sons, Chris and Curtiss, work with him at the dealership and at another enterprise, Classic Motorcar Auctions, which stages three major sales a year, including the recently completed Grande Salon held in conjunction with the Glenmoor Gathering of Significant Automobiles, Ohio's biggest concours d'elegance.

Although Lichty recently turned 65, he says he has no interest in retiring, or even slowing down.

In addition to his classic car businesses, Lichty has written five books, including a history of the Antique Automobile Club of America, and has served as president of the Lincoln Highway Association.

In 2003, Lichty organized a classic car tour from New York to San Francisco on the historic Lincoln Highway -- a route, by the way, that runs through downtown Canton. Next year, the Lincoln Highway Centennial, he's organizing a pair of driving tours, one leaving from San Francisco and the other from New York. Those participating will meet at the highway's midway point, Kearny, Neb., for a week-long centennial celebration.

By the way, the Grande Salon sold some 100 vehicles for more than $1.6 million, including $180,000 for a 1937 Cord 812 supercharged phaeton, $135,000 for the 1912 Ford Six Speedster that was built for a teenaged Edsel Ford, and $35,000 for a 1931 Stutz DV-32 eight-cylinder engine and three-speed transmission.

Duesie At the 18th annual Glenmoor Gathering, best-in-show honors went to a 19298 LeBaron-bodied Duesenberg Model J phaeton (see photo) owned by Chuck Letts of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The Duesie actually tied in the judges' voting with the 1935 Duesenberg SJ "Mormon Meteor," but Letts' car won on tie-breaking criterion -- it had participated in the driving tour the day before the concours.

The Glenmoor Gathering featured early supercharged vehicles, including the famed and speed record-setting"Mormon Meteor," seven Tuckers -- as well as the fiberglass Tucker-movie prop used in the Tucker movie and a Tucker tribute car -- and nearly two dozen Allards.

1933 Marmon best-in-show at Kirkland

The Kirkland concours d'elegance has moved to its new venue -- the Le May, America's Car Museum -- where a 1933 Marmon V-16 convertible coupe owned by Aaron Weiss of San Marino, California, took best-in-show honors. Not only did Weiss's Marmon win the top award from the judges, but it also won the People's Choice award.

Mecum does $31,6 million in Dallas

Mecum Auctions' second annual event at Dallas was a whopping success with sales of $31.6 million, including $5.2 million for The Cars of Hallbrook Collection, an 82-vehicle collection that accounted for three of the overall top-1o sales in the auction, including $187,500 for a 2005 Ford GT with only 1,021 miles, $152,000 for a Brunn-bodied 1938 Lincoln K semi-collapsible cabriolet and $152,500 for a 1956 Lincoln Premiere convertible.

Other top sales were $285,000 for a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, $240,000 for a '69 Chevrolet Yenko Camaro, $200,000 for another '67 427 Corvette (this one a coupe), $185,000 for a '69 Pontiac Trans Am Ram Air IV, $170,000 for a '67 427 Corvette convertible, $155,000 for a '70 Chevrolet Chevelle resto-mod and $145,000 for a '68 Shelby GT500 KR convertible.

Don't put your classic away for the winter quite yet...

Summer's over. Schools are in session. But it's not quite time to park your classic for the winter.

* This weekend is the Food Lion Auto Fair at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where a special tribute to the late Carroll Shelby and his cars is planned...
* It's also Fleet Week and the Coronado Speed Festival vintage races are part of a celebration in San Diego that includes the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Navy SEALs...
* Also this weekend is the fifth annual Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas auction at the Mandalay Bay resort...
* And Auctions America by RM is at Rollinsford, New Hampshire, for the sale of the Terry Bennett Collection of nearly 200 classic and exotic vehicles, including the barn-found Swartley Racecar, which was known as the Osca Special when it won the SCCA national G-Modified class championship in 1955.

Click here for event calendar.


Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.

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