Owls Head Transportation Museum Classic Car Auction Grosses $6 Million – Antiques And The Arts Weekly – Antiques and the Arts Online
Review & Onsite Photos by Rick Russack, Catalog Photos Courtesy Owls Head Transportation Museum
OWLS HEAD, MAINE – It had been a most unusual auction! It cost $100 to register to bid and about 400 did. About 1, 500 people attended the auction, at a cost of $20 per person. Approximately half associated with the more than 200 cars to be sold had reserves and it was clear which those were: unreserved cars had signs on the windshield that read, “No Reserve. ” Many consignors were present to talk about their vehicles with potential bidders.
Each car has been driven into the public sale hall plus discussed at length. The preview had been spread over several acres, some cars were under tents, some were out in the open and a few were within the museum buildings. Adjacent to the Owls Head Transport Museum was the Knox County airport so bidders with their own planes could fly in, get out of their plane and walk a short distance in order to the auction site. The particular two-day public sale, which took place August 26-27, is the largest fundraising event for the museum and was the 44th sale it has conducted. Printed catalogs were not produced for this sale, but the online descriptions were extensive and detailed. The sale grossed about $6 million; six cars sold for more than $100, 000 and dozens sold for five figure prices.
Age plus rarity, even condition, are not necessarily the main factors determining value of the type of vehicles being bought by today’s collectors and investors. John Bottero, assistant executive director of the museum, explained, “The people that are buying cars today are, for the most part, in their forties, fifties and sixties. The cars they are buying are the cars they grew up with; cars that were made in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and later. These collectors have less interest in 100-year-old cars, even though they may be quite rare. Race cars are extremely popular, plus many vintage racers are still raced today. While provenance is associated with importance within many areas of collecting, that is even more true along with race cars. Who drove it? Where was it raced? Did it win? ”
The degree of original condition is an important factor, as demonstrated by the particular car that brought the highest price of the purchase: $184, 250, for a 1967 Corvette Roadster. At a time when most cars in dealer showrooms lacked features we take for granted these days, this Corvette had many factory installed options: air conditioning, AM/FM radio, headrest seats, several power-enhancing choices and more. But of most significance to collectors was the fact that serial numbers associated with all major components of the particular car matched. That means that main parts experienced not been replaced. Restoration was of the highest caliber. It is not uncommon with regard to restoration costs to run into six figures and the project can often take a year or two or longer. Production records indicated this particular car rolled off the assembly line on March 27, 1967.
Corvettes were introduced within 1953 to compete as the first all-American sports car with those made by MG, Austin Healy and Triumph. The particular earliest one in the particular sale has been a 1957 fuel injected model that will realized $137, 500. Later models had been also popular as the 2002 convertible with a six-speed manual transmission reached $26, 400.
Another example of a car with matching serial numbers was a 1964 Porsche 356SC, with a five-speed manual transmission plus 15, 000 miles that drove out for $154, 500, the second highest price of the sale. It was fully refurbished and included documentation back to the original owner who lived in California. The 356 series was Porsche’s first production automobile, manufactured from 1948 to 1965 and there were four distinct series over the years. The C series, of which this had been one, was the final series. In all, there were about a dozen Porsches offered and all but three offered. Another 356SC, a 1982 car that will had already been in storage for several years brought $74, 800. A 1982 911SC marketed for $57, 750.
One of the cars that surprised Bottero, bringing $154, 000, (the same cost as the particular Porsche 356SC), was obviously a 1936 Auburn 852 Supercharged Phaeton. Auburn has been regarded as 1 of the foremost makers at the upper end associated with the luxury market. This car had been certified as a category 1 vehicle by the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg club meaning that will all of its major components and body parts had been of initial manufacture.
A 1929 Cord L29 Speedster achieved $44, 1000. The L-29 was the first American production vehicle to be provided for sale in order to the general public with front wheel drive.
The first day of the selling offered some of the unreserved vehicles along with automobilia: the variety associated with early license plates, advertising items, photographs, books, neon signs, vintage tin and pressed steel toys plus service station advertising fixtures crossed the particular block. Topping the day was a 1986 Jeep Grand Wagoneer that sold for $21, 450, followed by a 1971 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that sold regarding $19, eight hundred. A 1916 New Hampshire license plate earned $143, a neon Rolling Rock beer sign earned $413, a toy red Wyandot roadster offered with a tin lithograph MG style roadster earned $264, and a restored Gulf gas pump gained $3, 080.
The Owls Head Transportation Museum had been founded in 1975 simply by Tom Watson of IBM, James Rockefeller of CitiBank, and their own friend, Owls Head resident Steve Lang. Watson, that summered nearby, was a good enthusiast of early planes and looking for a place to fly his planes. Rockefeller, who also had a summer home within the area, was also interested in early planes. They discussed the idea of a museum to “collect, maintain and display engines and ground and air vehicles…. ” They incorporated educational programming in their particular original plans. To make a long story short, at the end of World War II, the Navy transferred the pilot training facility in Owls Head to the county to develop an airport. One of the runways had been abandoned, and when the trio decided on a museum, Tom Watson arranged for that will land in order to be transferred to the art gallery.
In 1975, a maintenance shop was the only building on the particular property. Today, the museum occupies a number of buildings plus has a collection of more than 150 cars and aeroplanes, plus motors, carriages and a large reference library with thousands of books and photographs. Throughout the year, the particular museum runs themed events devoted to specialty areas such as motorcycles, trucks plus airshows. Visitors to the museum can fly within vintage planes or ride in classic cars.
The particular museum is currently in the particular middle associated with a $10 million capital campaign that will substantially expand the educational facilities. Currently, the museum hosts numerous school groups, especially in the particular K-8 grades, providing hands-on opportunities plus encouraging interest in STEM learning.
“There were some surprises, ” Bottero said after the sale. “I expected that there would become strong interest in the Corvettes, Porsches and vehicles of that will era. I didn’t expect that we’d see the level of desire for the earlier cars. For example, we had several Model Ts (they were produced from 1908 in order to 1928 and over 15 million were made) and these people did much better compared to I thought they will would. One, a 1913 touring car sold intended for $27, 500, and two others each brought about $20, 000. It was furthermore encouraging to see the interest within the mid-range cars-those selling within the $30, 000 to $60, 000 range. There had been some softness in that segment of the particular market. British racing cars did well and I thought the 1921 Stutz Design K touring car might have been the bargain of the day. It brought $66, 000. In general, our bidders had been generous and our staff – all volunteers – did a single hell of a job. We’re pleased. ”
The size of the automobilia market may come as a surprise. The September 2022 issue of Sports Car Market magazine includes a chart reporting auction results for 6 major vehicle auctions for the month of May 2022. That chart indicates gross sales of $179 million for that month. Several cars realized seven figure prices. Also, a point of interest: a 1955 gull-wing Mercedes SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe was sold in London earlier this year for $143 million dollars. It was a special car, and the full story is online.
Prices quoted include the buyer’s premium. For additional information, 207-594-4418 or www.owlshead.org .