Blame it on leap year mythology, backlash against Presidential campaign rhetoric overload or – most likely – a market correction eroding collector vehicle values caused by the jittery economy, but this year’s annual Atlantic City auction will not be remembered for achieving stellar sales numbers.
Actually two auctions in one, G. Potter King’s “main event” took place over four days, Feb. 28 to March 2 in the Atlantic City Convention Center, centrally located in New Jersey’s gaming mecca. Also presented was a Feb. 28 one-evening only sale, held at the Borgata Casino and Resort, located near the convention center.
In all, 547 vehicles were offered, 500 at the convention center and 47 at the Borgata, with 126 and 19, respectively, declared sold on block. Sell-through ratings were 25.2 percent and 40.4 percent, respectively. According to G. Potter King head man John Chiara, post-sale deals at the convention center raised sell-through there to near 40 percent. While this year’s Borgata sale bested 2007’s 33.3 percent sell-through on one fewer car, the “main” auction fell off precipitously from last year’s 47.3 percent on-block sales figure, on just 17 fewer vehicles.
Reviewing this year’s consignment lineup, the main auction was heavily weighted toward Chevrolet. Almost 40 percent of vehicles crossing the block wore a bowtie. Of these approximately 200 vehicles, 36 were declared sold on block. The auction lineup was also filled with (too) many 5- to 15-year-old BMWs, Corvettes, Jaguars and Mercedes-Benz, which do not represent the widely accepted 25 years old or older definition of collector vehicle status. In all, 15 of these modern cars were declared sold among the 126 total on-block sales.
Among the vehicles sold at the Borgata auction, only one, a 1936 Packard Super 8 convertible sedan with Dietrich coachwork achieved a six-figure selling bid, changing hands for exactly $100,000, not including premiums.
Hoping to attract big money, Ivan Goldstein of Baltimore consigned his faithfully restored 1952 Muntz Jet convertible to the Borgata sale. He told Old Cars Weekly before the auction that both in the spirit of the car’s creator, Earl “Mad Man” Muntz, and being in Atlantic City he decided to gamble and run the car through at no reserve. Having invested a reported $300,000 in the car’s eight-year restoration, the gamble backfired as the Muntz was high bid to and sold at $72,000.
Top seller at the convention center auction was a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 convertible, equipped with the W30 package, that sold for $191,000. Another muscle ragtop placed second, with a 1969 Chevy Camaro RS/SS convertible, equipped with the L89 396-cid/375-hp V-8, sold for $100,000.
Two vehicles in the category of “buys of the sale” are a pristine 1958 Plymouth Sport Suburban station wagon that sold for $15,000 and a 1948 Chevy shortbox show pickup with tilt bed, custom paint and 355-cid V-8 that sold for $35,000.
One of the most interesting cars of the sale was a V-12-powered 1941 Lincoln Zephyr sedan that sold for $11,000. The Zephyr survived being stored for almost 50 years in a Maine barn, and was presented in daily driver condition.