RM Auctions St. John’s 2013 – Auction Report

RM Auctions, Inn at St. John’s, Plymouth, Michigan, July 27, 2013

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

A quick look at the stats below shows that RM has made this auction, on the day before the Concours d’Elegance of America at the Inn at St. John’s a consistent performer. It features solid if not exceptional cars, weighted to classics and antiques appropriate to the venue.

There are good values here, and occasionally something seriously intriguing, like the ’36 Chevy and beautifully restored Cord 812 Phaeton.

RM Auctions St. John's
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est.
Sold > High Est.
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
80 / 72
$78,100 [72.6%]
74 / 61
$63,250 [56.5%]
70 / 60
$66,000 [51.8%]

St. John’s started an auction marathon, and also suggested a wave building toward a crest at Monterey in four weeks.

Its 80% sale rate was bettered by Auctions America by RM’s first Burbank auction a week later. At a reported 83% sell-through, AA by RM’s Burbank sale is a landmark for a first time venue and an heroic performance for an LA-area collection car auction, the graveyard of auctions for years. A full report will follow.

As this is written I’m in Reno at Hot August Nights for Barrett-Jackson’s debut sale in Reno. It’s heavily rod, mod and custom but also well populated by restored cars, a typically diverse B-J consignment.

And what about Monterey?

It’s set to be the best ever, that’s all. Every one of the five auctions presenting at Monterey have assembled outstanding consignments. It’s going to be a seven and eight figure bonanza.

RM Auctions at St. John’s 2013 – Auction Report

1970 Fiat 500L Cinquecento
Lot # 105 1970 Fiat 500L “Cinquecento” 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N 110F3001725; Ivory/Black leatherette; Black vinyl folding sunroof; Estimate $10,000 – $15,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $14,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $15,400. No Reserve. Folding sunroof, hubcaps, blackwall tires, rear bumper overriders – Sound paint, major chrome and upholstery, thin trim chrome. Largely original and reasonably maintained. A prominent car owned by Jean Jennings of Automobile Magazine who drove it onto the block and was followed, in great good humor, by a video cameraman during the preview and auction. – 2/3 for the car, 1/3 for the Jean Jennings provenance and a sound buy on both accounts.
1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
Lot # 106 1956 Ford Thunderbird Convertible; S/N P6FH154693; Metallic Grey, Metallic Grey hardtop/Red, White vinyl; Estimate $40,000 – $60,000; Older restoration, 1- condition; Hammered Sold at $39,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $42,900. No Reserve. 312/225hp, automatic, Town & Country radio, skirts, continental kit, wire wheel covers, P/S, P/B. Porthole hardtop only, accessory A/C, alternator – Not as fresh as it was at Amelia in 2005 but still good, sound paint, chrome and interior. Engine compartment needs to be detailed. An AACA Grand National winner once, but no longer. – The restoration is getting tired on this T-bird which sold for $59,400 at RM’s Amelia Island auction in 2005 showing 125 fewer miles on the odometer. It looks like it’s been driven more than that and brought a reasonable price here for its mediocre condition.
1936 Chevrolet FA Master Deluxe Sport Coupe
Lot # 109 1936 Chevrolet FA Master Deluxe Sport Coupe; S/N 6549895; Engine # GMF116D8360105; Burgundy/Taupe cloth; Estimate $30,000 – $50,000; Cosmetic restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $27,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $29,700. 3-speed, radio, remote spotlight, fog lights. skirts, dual enclosed sidemounts, steel spoke wheels, whitewalls, rumble seat – Good recent paint and chrome. Underbody was done some time ago as was the interior. Some trim and accessory chrome is aged and pitted. Engine was done a while ago with superficial recent attention to details like the air filter label. – With the enclosed sidemounted spares this Chevrolet looks like more car than it was, in 1936 or in 2013, a charming, sound, eminently usable example that is a great introduction to car collecting for a reasonable price. This is a sound value for both the buyer and the seller.
1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan
Lot # 110 1957 Packard Clipper Country Sedan; S/N 57L5701; Gold, Cream/Gold vinyl, Brown cloth; Estimate $40,000 – $60,000; Cosmetic restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $40,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $44,000. 289/275hp supercharged, automatic, P/S, P/B, P/W, WonderBar radio, roof rack, wheel covers, whitewalls – Poor gauges, erratically masked repaint, decent upholstery. A sound and unusual car superficially redone. Quickly repainted over peeling underhood sound deadening. Engine quickly repainted assembled. Thin trim chrome. A disappointing car. – The hood on this Packard weighs more than the Fiat 500L that sold a few cars earlier. It ha a long auction history beginning with RM’s Art Astor auction in 2008 where it sold for $74,250, at RM Monterey in 2009 (sold for $44,000), here two years ago (sold for $60,500.) The two $44,000 sales make sense for an unusual but unsatisfying car even taking into account the recent popularity of station wagons and the supercharged engine.
1958 Packard Hawk Sport Coupe
Lot # 112 1958 Packard Hawk Sport Coupe; S/N 58LS1537; Red, Cream roof/Tan leather; Estimate $50,000 – $70,000; Cosmetic restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $80,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $88,000. Supercharged Super 289/275hp, automatic, wheel covers, whitewalls, P/S, P/B, pushbutton radio – Restored like new with very good paint, chrome and interior. Engine compartment is crisp if not fresh and fan shroud is crudely repaired. Underbody hasn’t been apart. An unusual and attractive car despite the fish-mouth grille. – Sold here three years ago for $50,600 in somewhat better condition but still amenable to being brought back to show (but not concours) condition. It is, however, expensive for what it is.
1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner
Lot # 114 1956 Ford Fairlane Sunliner; S/N M6RC119932; Mandarin Orange, Raven Black/Black, Orange vinyl; Black cloth top; Estimate $50,000 – $70,000; Modified restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $77,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $84,700. 292/202hp with later intake manifold and Holley 4-barrel, automatic, P/S, P/B, power seat, chrome wire wheels, whitewalls, grille guard, continental kit, skirts, rear antenna, pushbutton radio, dual remote spotlight-mirrors, modern brake booster with dual circuits and front discs, AM-FM-CD stereo hidden in the tissue dispenser – Good paint, chrome and interior on an attractive older restoration. Underbody is orderly and nearly like new with some age and use. A thoughtfully modernized and updated Ford perfect for weekend evenings and cruises. – Some people liked this very practical Sunliner a lot. Others grumbled about the updates. From the price it brought it is clear that the likes significantly exceeded the grumbles and while this is a healthy price for a ’56 Sunliner it couldn’t be duplicated for the price it brought making it a reasonable buy for a cruising oriented Blue Oval fan.
1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe
Lot # 115 1947 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible Coupe; S/N 8452648; Engine # 6403677; Dark Blue/Beige leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $70,000 – $90,000; Older restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $57,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $63,250. Automatic, skirts, sombrero wheel covers, wide whitewalls, pushbutton radio, dual remote spotlights, power top – 1981 AACA National First Prize and CCCA National First Prize # 2913. A good older restoration showing its age. Paint crazing on rear deck, some thin trim chrome, surface creased upholstery. Dirty underbody. A sound car showing the restoration’s age. – This Cadillac can be brought back to much more attractive standards without spending a fortune. Even the crazed paint is localized and can be redone without doing the whole car. And it’s a CCCA Full Classic ™, a reasonably priced entry ticket to the CCCA’s many events and tours. It is a sound value at this price.
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air FI Convertible
Lot # 116 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air FI Convertible; S/N VC57S302368; Engine # F820FJ; White, Red/Red, Silver vinyl; White vinyl top; Estimate $85,000 – $105,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $67,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $74,250. No Reserve. 283/250hp fuel injection, Powerglide, P/S, P/B, pushbutton radio, tissue dispenser, spinner wheel covers, whitewalls, power top, dual rear antennas, electric wipers – Trim tag paint 794A indicates it was originally Imperial Ivory. Good but non-stock paint, good interior, top, chrome and glass. Underbody shows age and engine compartment even more with no small amount of dust, chips and fluid weeps. Looks like an older restoration with freshened paint. Appropriate engine number for the FI configuration. – Owned by BASF and painted this gaudy and inauthentic color scheme (a ‘Red Widow’?) for a paint promotion. The buyer here factored the cost of a good repaint, perhaps in the original Imperial Ivory which would enhance its collectability if not its eye appeal. This is a sound buy for the configuration and equipment.