By Phil Skinner with reporting assist by Amanda Wheatley and Roy Velander
AUBURN, Ind. _ When Rob Myers, founder of RM Auctions announced in June 2010, that his company was taking over the ownership of the former Kruse Auction Park in Auburn, Indiana, it was well received in both the local community, which had hosted the Labor Day Weekend Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Festival since 1958, as well as in the car-collecting community. This new arm of RM Auctions would be called Auctions America and long-time associate with RM, Donnie Gould would head up this new division of the company.
Over the past seven years, a lot has changed within the RM organization including partial acquisition by UK based Sotheby’s. Gould has continually put together a succession of sales that have been quite successful maintaining both the Labor Day “Fall” weekend as well as some innovative Spring sales each May. For the 2017 edition of the “Fall” Auction, there was a difference in the air.
Looking at the cars going over the auction block, it was business as usual. The number of consignments were down from previous season with just 690 vehicles, plus 42 motorcycles and a pair of boats. But the sell-through was impressive with 483 of the vehicles called sold for an even 70% sell-through. Total hammer sales on the auction block were tallied at $12,733,600, on top of which a 10% commission was added. Most impressive was the hard work done by Auction America’s post-block sales team putting together a number of sales totaling $4,279,700. Combined with the block sales, their commission and the post-sales the total came to $18,286,660, one of the highest totals ever seen in Auburn. On top of that, 38 of the 42 motorcycles were called sold, as well as both boats for a hammer total of $265,350 on top of which a 15% commission was adding taking that total to $305,153. In addition to the vehicles a wide assortment of memorabilia was also offered each day before the start of the motorcars.
Heading the auction team was Brent Earlywine and Mike Shackleton, both auctioneers having long histories with RM Auctions, and both doing outstanding jobs. Taking the top sale at Fall Auburn 2017 went to a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ LeGrande Sweep Panel Sport Phaeton which was bid to a no-sale of $2.1 million. However, in post-block negotiations this car was reported as sold at $2,300,000. One of the highlights of every Fall Auburn is the diversity in vehicles offered. Several stellar Packards were offered as well as a number of certified pure muscle-cars. One collector brought a wonderful assortment of over-the-top cars, mostly convertibles of the 1950’s, and these all brought record auction prices lead by a beautiful 1958 Buick Limited convertible done in the limited-edition Mojave Yellow, loaded with every toy in the book including air-conditioning, and hammered at $217,500 plus commission. Another bell-ringer from this collection was a perfect 1958 Ford Ranchero Deluxe pickup with the 352 cid, 300 HP Interceptor V8, called sold at $92,500 to a lady bidder. She told the seller that she was taking the car directly from Auburn on Saturday evening and driving to her hometown car show in Ohio the next day.
Rumors were flying all weekend about the future of the Auburn Auction Park. From reliable sources within the auction company, we were assured the tradition of a major collector-car auction would be conducted in Auburn come Labor Day 2018. There will be some changes, but everything done will be for the hobbyists, collectors and those in the industry and will be beneficial to all.