Gunners Garage

TALES OF 40 YEARS #31 – ATLANTIC CITY AUCTION

The Atlantic City Classic Car Auction is coming up this weekend and is a great event to attend if you live near there. Last night I saw Ken Buttolph at our weekly cruise night (yes we meet all winter) and we were talking about our funniest Atlantic City trip. I do not remember the exact date, but it was the year before the casinos opened. In those days the show was held in the historic old Convention Center and run by different people. The show promoter hired an auction company and there was a judgement against the auctioneer. U.S. Marshals stopped by to collect the monies due. Unfortunately, all the money was in one kitty in the show promoter’s office. He had not paid the auctioneer yet and there was no way he was going to give the Marshals HIS money. So he grabbed their handcuffs and handcuffed himself to the desk so they couldn’t open the drawer. Someone came out to the OLD CARS WEEKLY booth and said we should be reporting on this. I ran into the office and took a picture of the Marshals carrying the innocent promoter out of the office, desk and all. On the same trip, immediately after the auction, Atlantic City was struck by a massive snow storm. The city is on a penninsula and rarely sees snow, so it had no snow removal equipment. We were stuck there for several days. There were far less restaurants in Atlantic City then and they were running out of food. They finally mobilized some straight-blade tractors and Caterpillars to try to clear the snow, but all they could do was push it up one street and down another. Ken was not an employee of OLD CARS WEEKLY at that time. He was basically the driver of our show rig, but he always owned lots of old cars. During the snowed-in days everyone would gather in the hotel lobby hoping to be able to get away and one man who was a doctor or dentist started bragging up the one collector car he owned. If I remember correctly, it was a relatively modern Trans Am Indy pace car. fter he was finished, he asked Ken what he owned, probably expecting to hear he had a worn out Plymouth sedan or rusty Ford Tudor. Well, the “country boy” from Iola then spent about the next 45 minutes simply listing the 50 or so cars he owned at the time. At that time, Ken’s fleet included a Town & Country and a bunch of snazzy ’50s convertibles and probably a Cadillac or Packard or two. The more he spoke, the more humbled the other man was. After a few days of being stuck, Ken decided we were going to leave. At that time the OLD CARS WEEKLY truck was an early ’70s Suburban and it was in the parking lot across the street with snow up to its door handles. But Kenny, of course, had grown up in snowy Wisconsin and knew how to drive in the white stuff. So he dug out enough snow to open the door, started the engine, tenderly put the transmission in gear and very slowly eased the truck out ofthe parking lot with very little tire spinning. Then we were off to Philadelphia where Ken dropped me off at the airport, before driving home.

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