Published: October 8, 2019
Review by Anne Kugielsky, Onsite Photos by Joseph Kugielsky, Car Photos Courtesy Saratoga Auto Museum
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – As collectors and car aficionados gathered their shekels and headed for the gorgeous setting of Saratoga Springs State Park for the Saratoga Auto Museum’s third annual auction held on September 20 and 21, Bill Windham, the new head of the auto auction, gathered more than 300 diverse entries to please the crowds who attended.
Conducted live on the stage at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center – a perfect venue for viewing cars on stage – and scattered around the grounds under tents and trees and on the grass, the vehicles on offer ran the gamut from the top lot of the sale, a custom made, one-of-a-kind 2006 Prevost Vantare Custom that sold for $360,000, to race cars from celebrity drivers and vintage vehicles barely changed from the horse-drawn carriage – and everything in between. There was also a good selection of vintage gas pumps and air stations as well as accessories and memorabilia, including race-worn items from the likes of Michael Schumacher and Paul Newman (Newman’s racing gloves sold for $1,440) and a replica of a 1920 vintage car store painting ($4,800) from a store that was opened by Ed Jurist in the late 1950s in Nyack, N.Y.
Auction director Bill Windham said the vehicles were sourced from Indiana to Maine and across the country with about 40 percent of the audience looking for classic cars and 60 percent collectors. “The cars are my jewelry,” he said. And indeed, every car – from a 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that sold at $17,600 to a 1938 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood convertible that roared to $187,500 – was primed and polished to sparkle in the bright lights on the stage.
This was the third year of the Sarasota Auto Museum’s car auction and, according to Windham, certainly the best. “All of the proceeds from the auction go to the museum, and this year there are about 175 cars that should go over $50,000 and many that hopefully bring more than $250,000…I am dedicated to raising the quality of the cars on offer.” He brings years in the car and auction world to the task and the results were apparent. The major fundraiser of the year, proceeds from the auction benefit the museum’s education, distracted driving initiative and exhibition programs.
On Thursday evening prior to the full auction, the museum honored race car driver and sports commentator David Hobbs, as well as Bob Varsha and Judy Stropus. Hobbs was available throughout the auction for autographs and was offering signed copies of his new autobiography, Hobo.
Vintage cars were led by the 1938 Cadillac Series 75 Fleetwood convertible that drew bids to $187,500. The beautifully and professionally restored car in Pelham gray with a rich red leather interior, was designed to impress with a 141-inch wheelbase and a total length of 220.6 inches. Of all the 1911 Series 75s manufactured in 1938, 44 were convertibles. This two-door convertible coupe is one of only six to survive and was once part of part of the Nerthercutt collection.
An original special order color combination of Bali Blau exterior with original/unrestored red interior set a 1965 Porsche 911 apart. With a single California owner, the mechanically perfect car came with all original documentation and records. Driving it on stage to loud applause, the rust/accident-free Porsche caught the eye of several bidders who pushed the final price to $176,000.
Another top lot was a 1934 Packard Victoria. Built on an original 1934 Packard frame, this custom car was based on the classic lines of an 11th series Packard. The chassis is from a two-door Victoria-style convertible that was frame up restored and customized. Windham said, “For those who want a true classic car with none of the hassle, this Packard custom is for you,” and a bidder agreed, paying $134,750 for the privilege of owning this classic.
Another Packard was among the top lots; this one, similar to the 1934 in looks, had two museums as its previous owners and reportedly “runs as good as it looks.” The 1929 Packard 640 Custom Eight convertible sold at $88,000 having been in storage for decades. “I hope the new owner will display it proudly, a classic like this should be seen,” Windham said. It was also once the first prize winner at the National Car Club of America National Competition.
A more modern classic, a deep black 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS had been purchased new at the world famous Yenko Chevrolet, confirmed by the car’s Protect-O-Plate. The first owner then purchased an aluminum block 427 cid motor from Yenko and sent the car to drag-car legend Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins to build. It was offered at this Saratoga auction with all the paperwork and only 21 miles on the newly restored engine; the buyer had to rev up $106,500 for it, “a really good price,” according to Windham.
The consignor of a 1950 Oldsmobile 88 convertible owned the car for the last 65 years and the car sported its original engine, four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, independent front suspension and semi-floating rear axle. Driving to the stage under its own power, the estimate was $60/62,000 but the clean blue color and extraordinary condition drove the final price to $85,250 – “this vehicle is in a class by itself,” commented the auctioneer as it rolled on the stage.
Another Packard, a 1930 740 Roadster, sold at $77,500. With a black body, white convertible roof and white details on its tires and spare tire rack, the car sported a tan leather interior freshly detailed and the iconic flying winged goddess of speed hood ornament.
The auction also included fine accessories such as a 1924 Fry Model 117 Texaco 10-gallon pump that sold for $6,000. Known as the Mae West because of all its curves, it was beautifully restored and the visible ethel was clear. A Sinclair gas pump brought $3,120; a 1930s nostalgic cast iron gasoline pump sold at $2,750; and straight from Britain, a Jaguar Junior E-Type XKE sold at $2,599.
Reflecting on the auction overall, Windham acknowledged that he knew they were facing “headwinds” after the major auction houses’ auto sales in August, which were down 30 percent. “The market is what it is, but the lots over $50,000 were a tough sell. Below that price it is more often a collector with a passion who is bidding, not someone who is buying as an investment. We will have our next auction the third week of September 2020, and I’ve got high hopes for it.”
Prices, with buyer’s premium, as reported by the auction house. For information on the Saratoga Auto Museum’s next auction or on visiting the museum, www.saratogaautomuseum.org or 518-587-1935.
June 15, 2021
June 15, 2021
June 15, 2021
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