“I will be living in Florida until the end of March,” says Grant Miller of Lock Haven, Pa. “But I’ll be traveling north for the Borgata sale and Atlantic City Auction the last weekend in February and first few days of March.” Miller — the man who paid a record of $196,000 for a 1970 Oldsmobile 4-4-2 convertible at last year’s Atlantic City Classic Car Auction (the event’s highest realized price) —is a very serious collector of post World War II American automobiles. Miller has his own auction business in Lock Haven, where he is President of Central Pennsylvania Auto auctions (CPA), a company that handles dealer auctions and produces one collector car auction each year. CPA’s fenced-in facility includes a well-lit indoor bidding area decorated with vintage dealership signs with an auction block in the center. There are large outdoor lots for parking, staging and after-sale storage. There’s a permanent, modern settlement office. “I actually do the CPA collector car auction as a hobby,” Grant Miller told Old Cars Weekly. “It’s really a hobby to support my hobby.” Miller’s sons actually do the day-to-day work associated with CPA’s weekly used-car dealer auctions. Once a year, Grant Miller, Sr. borrows the purpose-built auction facility in Lock Haven, to throw a big party and auction off about 350 vintage vehicles. Miller says he started collecting old cars and trucks about 15 years ago. In that period he amassed a collection of 45 vehicles. His collection includes rarities like a fuel-injected ’57 Pontiac Bonneville, a ’56 Ford Sunliner convertible and the record-price-setting 1970 Olds 4-4-2 convertible. This year he has one of his cars, a 1957 Thunderbird “E-Bird” with dual carbs, consigned to the Borgata sale. “I enjoy collecting and I’m always selling cars so I can enjoy the thrill of collecting again,” Miller explained. All of the cars currently in his private museum are in great condition. During his collector car auction weekend (July 16-18 are the 2009 dates), he kicks off with a buyers and sellers reception at the auction site. A VIP gala celebration for 400-plus people at Grant’s private museum follows. He has featured live entertainment and complimentary hors d’oeuvres. East Coast car collectors, like Austin Azzeretto, of Valley Stream, N.Y., speak highly of the CPA collector car auction, which blends low fees, a dedicated auction facility, a fun-filled weekend and some serious vehicle trading into an “event worth traveling to.” The auction facility is located less than a mile off exit 178 of I-80 in Central Pennsylvania. “Yeah, it’s a ride from Valley Stream,” Azzeretto admitted. “But every time I’ve gone it’s been worth it in terms of fun.”Miller keeps his registration fees and buyer and seller fees as low as possible. “I try to make my collector car auction fun,” he pointed out. “I do have a $400 minimum, to keep dealers from bringing a ’79 rust-bucket Impala off the back of their lot, but I also have a $1,500 maximum.The registration fee is $250 and buyer/seller fees are four percent.“It’s not too hard to figure what a seller will save on a $100,000 car,” said Miller. “Anyone who hasn’t attended one of my sales should ask someone who has been here. This will be our eighth year and the word of mouth advertising is getting around.” Last year, gate admission was $10 for all events for three days. Information about the July 16-18, 2009 auction is available from Central Pennsylvania Auto Auction at 1-800-248-8026.
Gunner’s Garage with John Gunnell
"Gunner" is one of of the most prolific authors and most visible characters in the old car hobby. He has written dozens of books about old cars for Krause Publications and is the former editor and publisher of Old Cars Weekly. His collecting pursuits range from old Pontiacs, to MGs, to retired police cruisers, to Indian motorcycles. He remains a frequent contributor to Old Cars Weekly and owns and operates Gunner’s Great Garage, a classic car restoration and gift shop in Manawa, Wis.
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