Have you attended a collector-car auction? Admittedly, only religion and politics are likely to stimulate more spirited conversations than collector-car auctions. Hobbyists generally describe the auction/hobby relationship with one of two four letter words: boon or bane. May I suggest other possibilities?

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve attended many collector-car auctions, but never bought or sold a car at any of them. Nonetheless, at least four good, alternate reasons for attending came to mind at the 2021 Indianapolis Mecum Spring Classic Auction.

1. An opportunity to see cars (or trucks, etc.) you’ll likely never see anywhere else due to the distance involved, like having a mini-Hershey in your backyard… or at least closer than central Pennsylvania. Many of us rarely travel outside maybe a 200-mile radius from home to attend collector-car events, so we often see the same cars repeatedly.

At a collector-car auction, however, cars will be shipped in from everywhere. So, there’s a good chance of seeing a “one-of-a-kind,” like Parnelli Jones’ 1969 Big Oly Baja-winning Bronco…or a rarity like one of the 117 1957 Dual Ghia convertibles produced. Both were offered at the 2021 Indianapolis Mecum sale.

A bidder planning to attend the 2017 Indianapolis Mecum Auction was interested in a 1960 Studebaker Lark V-8 convertible on the sale bill. He contacted me, as technical editor of The Studebaker Drivers Club, to arrange to meet him at the car before it went through, and to apprise him of its condition. I told him it might be the best one in the country. I wasn’t kidding; it was mostly original and a real sweetheart. He subsequently bought it at the auction and it disappeared over the eastern horizon, where I may never see it again

2. Another opportunity is to look at available cars similar to your own, examine them, and note their selling prices…or, if they don’t sell, note the high bid tendered. While this won’t tell you what your car is “worth” (always a nebulous discussion), it might help you decide if yours is underinsured.

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