Classic Car Capital

Auctions America Auburn Spring 2014 – Auction Report

Auctions America by RM, Auburn Spring, Auburn, Indiana, May 8-10, 2014

Auburn Spring has never been like this, a $19 million dollar sale with 780 cars offered and 636 (81.5%) sold.

The sale performance was urged along by over 400 cars offered by John Scotti without reserve, hour after hour on the West ring of cars, good and mediocre, but none bad, selling to the highest bidder.

It fostered the excitement that makes auctions so stimulating.

Where have there ever been 400+ cars offered to the highest bidder without reserve?

Bidders walked back and forth between the two blocks, picking and choosing their favorites in a continuing exhibition of bidding.

NBC/SN televised much of it, bringing in-person observation right up close and personal with the ‘hey, that’s me’ recognition that keeps endorphins flowing.

We’ve changed the presentation a little this time to highlight up front the premier transactions, especially Auburn Spring’s top sale, the 1934 Chrysler Custom Imperial Airflow Sedan – when was the last time a Chrysler Airflow topped an auction’s sale? – then let the auction’s flow in lot number order follow up.

There is no blockbuster transaction at Auburn Spring, just a quality presentation of widely diverse good cars, the core of the collector car hobby as Rob Myers and Donnie Gould intended when they bought the Auburn Auction Park and perpetuated the Auburn auction history.

The cars presented here are largely the best cars in the auction, our report having been let down by some part-time writers who couldn’t get their reports done in a timely fashion, but you can’t fail seeing the quality and diversity even within this selection.

[I hope the pictures are better with the new camera.]

Auctions America Auburn Spring 2014 – Auction Report

The Big Cars

1934 Chrysler Custom Imperial Airflow 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 5114 1934 Chrysler Custom Imperial Airflow 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 7901468; Dark Olive Green, /Green leather; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $194,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $213,400. No Reserve – 385/145hp, crank out windshield panes, rollup division, center facing jump seats, footrests, skirts, enclosed rear spare, 4-bar bumpers. – Restored nearly like new with excellent paint, interior and chrome. Underbody is nearly like new. Engine compartment is orderly but has some shortcuts in details like hoses and clamps. Doors close precisely. Driver’s door window frame came loose and is falling into the door pocket. A good example of a car that is difficult to do well. – One of the most innovative and technically advanced automobiles of the Thirties, the Airflow fell flat on its face with buyers de-sensitized by the Depression to suspect anything new. Chrysler built just 106 CX series Custom Imperial Airflows and they are exquisitely rare. This restoration obviously leaves a little to be desired but is easily brought to show car condition and unlikely ever to be displayed in an event with anything similar. A ticket to some highly desirable events and tours, this is not expensive for an automobile of this quality and distinction.
1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 Lightweight 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # 4128 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 409 Lightweight 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 21847F306016; Ermine White, /Red vinyl; Unrestored original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $137,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $151,250 – 409/409hp dual quads, 4-speed, 4.56 Positraction, buckets and console, radio and heater delete, metallic brakes, no hubcaps, whitewalls, dashtop tach. – 5,500 original miles, all original lightweight factory drag car, one of 19 built. So clean and pristine it looks restored. Great paint, chrome and interior. Known history from new when it was drag raced by Zintsmaster Chevrolet. – Offered a year ago at Mecum’s Indianapolis auction with a reported high bid of $160,000, this is an extraordinary time-capsule that hasn’t been abused or cut up and modified after its early days as a stock class drag car were over. The preservation is absolutely astonishing. It should go straight to AACA judging, but unfortunately continued preservation makes it unlikely the 409/409 will ever again get exercised to the limits of its formidable power and performance. Drag cars are their own subset of the market, but remove the painted graphics (which would be a mortal sin, but hypothetically) and present this 409/409 lightweight as a well preserved, documented original example in street trim and it would not be at all unrealistic to see it bring significantly more than this.
1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
Lot # 4120 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible; S/N VC56A088957; Engine # F56FH; Matador Red, , India Ivory/White, Red vinyl; White vinyl top; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $135,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $148,500 – 265/225hp, dual quads, Powerglide, continental kit, skirts, wire wheel covers, power seat, P/W, P/S, P/B, WonderBar radio, power rear antenna. – Great paint, chrome, interior and top. Beautiful engine compartment. No detail overlooked. – This is quite simply a fabulous Bel Air, done to the nines with every detail addressed appropriately and loaded with options. The engine is appropriately stamped for its presented configuration, but without the significant comment that this is how it came from Atlanta. The price reflects the effect the car has: it is brilliant, but as expensive as it deserves to be.
1960 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster
Lot # 4123 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster; S/N 12104010017435; White, , White hardtop/Red leather; Black cloth top; Cosmetic restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $132,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $145,750 – Hubcaps, trim rings, blackwall BFG radial tires, Weber carbs, Blaupunkt multiband radio. – Very good paint, chrome and interior. Tidy underhood showing only a little age and use. Underbody squirted with recent chassis black over old paint and underseal. Flat panels and even gaps; door fits could be better. An attractive cosmetic restoration. – A prime example of the 190SL’s current transactional escalation, this is a sound but unexceptional car with enough shortcomings to call into question the thoroughness of its ‘recent documented restoration.’ It is expensive even in the context of the madness that has afflicted 190SL prices.
1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427/435 Roadster
Lot # 4124 1967 Chevrolet Corvette 427/435 Roadster; S/N 194677S102720; Engine # T0915JE 7102720; Silver Pearl, , Black stinger/Black; Black vinyl top; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $125,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $137,500 – 427/435hp, 4-speed, Rally wheels with hubcaps and trim rings, red line tires, side exhausts, P/B, P/S, P/W, AM-FM, two tops, headrests. – Freshly restored with great paint, chrome, interior, top and engine compartment. Not like new in some underhood and chassis finishes but overall a showpiece. – Sold at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2013 for $143,000. Consider this precisely restored and completely equipped 427/435hp Corvette roadster in contrast with the mediocre cosmetically restored 190SL that preceded it across the block at $8,000 more. Where would you rather have your money? A rational collector would not fail to appreciate the difference. Both results are ‘market’, but this Corvette is far more car for the money, and a more reliable place to put it.

The rest of the cars:

1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible
Lot # 1037 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible; S/N VC57S119374; Canton Coral, /White, Grey vinyl; White vinyl top; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $71,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $78,100 – 283/240hp, dual quads, batwing air cleaner, 3-speed, P/S, no P/B skirts, spinner wheel covers, continental kit, pushbutton radio, electric wipers. – Good paint, chrome, interior and glass. Dry underbody. Orderly engine compartment. Flush panel fits and even gaps. A quality older restoration to nearly like new condition, now a little aged but hardly used, if at all. – Sold here a year ago for $82,500, a consistent result for a consistently fine Bel Air in a particularly attractive and unusual color.
1982 Ferrari 308 GTSi
Lot # 2104 1982 Ferrari 308 GTSi; S/N ZFFAA02A4C0041017; Red, /Tan leather; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $43,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $47,300 – 5-spoke alloy wheels, Michelin TRX tires, Kenwood cassette stereo, A/C, Clifford alarm. – Erratically masked repaint, scratched black trim, worn original interior. Driver’s door handle crudely repainted. Clean engine compartment with some paint loss. Hard old TRX tires. Dead engine cover struts. Honest but aged mostly original car. – Described as ‘just 22,000 actual miles’, the odometer reads 23,345 and the car looks like it’s had much more abuse than that. The seller should be extremely happy with this price.
1949 Triumph 2000 Roadster
Lot # 2113 1949 Triumph 2000 Roadster; S/N TRA1991; Black, /Grey-Green leather; Black cloth top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $35,000 plus commission of; Final Price $35,000 – RHD. Hubcaps, blackwall bias ply tires, fender mirrors, rumble seat with glass panel cover, fog and driving light. – Sound but aged mostly original car with a sound old repaint and interior. Weak chrome, cracked dashboard varnish, faded instrument faces. Cracked, oxidized steering wheel. Dirty underhood. Not original enough to be a preservation car, but usable as-is. – An unusual Triumph in the states, and a quirky body with the glass inserts in the rumble seat cover that become a second windshield when it’s open, but this is a tired example, too far gone to be preserved and a real project to restore. It would go on to cross the block at Mecum’s Indy auction next weekend with progressively lower bids of $33,000 and $25,000. It would be a sound buy at the latter.
1956 Oldsmobile 98 Starfire Convertible
Lot # 2125 1956 Oldsmobile 98 Starfire Convertible; S/N 569M36476; Alcan White, , Festival Red/Red, White leather; White vinyl top; Older restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $30,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $33,550 – 324/240hp, automatic, spinner wheel covers, P/S, P/B, P/W, skirts, whitewalls, WonderBar radio, Autronic Eye, continental kit. – Sound paint and interior. Some weak trim chrome, especially in the interior. Seats have been redone but the interior trim fits poorly. Inside rear view mirror is missing. The quality of the restoration is showing in the way it’s coming apart. – There is much visibly wrong with this Starfire, and no telling what else might be similarly deficient. It is a sign of astute risk analysis that the Auburn bidders left lots of headroom at this price for resolving unknown, but not unexpected, problems.

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Show Comments (3)

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  1. Mr Carey, As always an enjoyable read and good analysis of the market but I want to make a comment on the green Ford Torino, lot 5086. Yes, the car likely had a 429 engine but that is in no way, shape or form the same as the engine in a 69-70 Mustang Boss 429. The Boss 429 was exclusive to those two year Mustangs and two Cougars which were special built for drag racing. The 429 in the Torino would have been a Lima engine not the semi-hemi Boss 429. (a glance at the valve covers alone can easily differentiate the two). Those Lima 429s were used in 1971 Mustangs to replace the 428 Cobra Jet in the 68-70 Mustangs. They were also used in Ford’s larger cars and eventually expanded into the 460s that were the workhorse engine for big Fords, Mercuries and Lincolns as well as pickup trucks from Ford in the early 70s. To sum up, Ford had three big block families in the 60s and 70s, the FE (352-390-428) the Lima (429-460) and the Boss 429 NASCAR homologation special which was a truly unique handcrafted monster designed to take on the Hemis during the factory wars in NASCAR’s superspeedways.

  2. Matt,
    Very good point, and your observations are entirely correct.
    That said, I still think the 429 Torinos are a great value, especially today when no one in his right mind exercises one of these cars anywhere near its potential.
    Thinking about that, I suspect a 429 Torino owner would be more likely to flog it than a Boss-Nine owner. One engine is easily replaceable with moderate consequence to value while lunching the Boss-Nine would be a catastrophe.

    Rick