Car auction meets ‘pent-up demand’ | Thestar

AUBURN — Saturday’s 13th annual version of The Auburn Auction offers plenty of highlights, but to auctioneer John Kruse, the best is that it’s happening at all in disaster-plagued 2020.

“To be doing … a car auction here in Auburn over Labor Day weekend is wonderful,” Kruse said.

His Worldwide Auctioneers company will take bids on more than 65 vehicles and 250 lots of memorabilia at Kruse Plaza, south of Auburn. The memorabilia sale starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, with cars crossing the auction stage at 6 p.m.

With many auctions across the nation canceled for health reasons, “Thousands of collector cars have not been bought and sold in the last six months,” leading to “quite a bit of pent-up demand,” Kruse said

Bidder registration for The Auburn Auction has increased compared to past sales, with more than 1,000 people signed up, a majority of whom will be bidding by telephone or internet, he said.

Three-fourths of the cars — including nearly all of the most desirable models — are selling at no reserve to the highest bidder.

“The sellers have put their faith and confidence in the marketplace. … I think that’s wonderful,” Kruse said.

Headlining the sale is the “Stainless Steel Trifecta” of three cars with stainless steel bodies, built by Ford for the Allegheny Ludlum steel company to showcase its products.

The trio consists of a 1936 Ford Deluxe Tudor Sedan (one of only six built), 1960 Fort Thunderbird hardtop coupe (one of two) and 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible (one of three).

For the first time, Worldwide will sell cars as a complete set.

“They are very mindful of what they represent … and they wanted them to stay together,” Kruse said about the steel company’s officers. ““When you see one individually, it’s cool. When you see them as a set … they just have way more impact as a group than they do by themselves.”

Through the decades, the stainless steel cars have been used by sales executives and loaned to workers for proms and weddings, Kruse said.

“Over the last several years, they have had limited to almost no people asking for them to show them,” Kruse said, and the company decided the autos deserve more attention through a new owner.

Another set of seven cars in “The Red Collection” will be sold individually, with bidding on one red Chevrolet Corvette from every year between 1961-1967.

Making up one-fourth of the sale lineup, 17 pro-street custom cars from the Eric McConnell collection are “just over the top,” Kruse said. “The amount of money spent on each of those is just astounding. They’re beautiful, but they’re usable.” Topping the group is a 1962 Chevrolet Impala that won a first-place award at the Detroit Autorama car show in May.

A local highlight of the sale will be a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ pedal car built by the late Don Dettmer of Auburn. Mr. Dettmer produced eight Duesenberg pedal cars and four Auburn Boattail Speedsters. Several are displayed at the National Auto and Truck Museum in Auburn.

An owner from Michigan purchased the auction’s Duesenberg pedal car two decades ago at Auburn Auction Park.

“The guy that owns it bought it when his granddaughter was an infant, so she’s going off to college,” and the sale proceeds will go toward her tuition, Kruse said.

Auburn’s other connection to the sale is a full-size 1935 Auburn Supercharged Boattail Speedster, described by Kruse as “one of the best cars ever produced, period.”

The 6 p.m. segment of the auction begins with the 35th annual sale of a quilt produced by the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Auburn, with proceeds to charity. This year’s quilt has a theme of “American Heroes — 75th Anniversary of World War II.”

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