It was time-travel time for the SCM gang this weekend.
There was a collector car auction at the Oregon State Fair and Expo Center in Salem. That’s about 45 miles from Portland.
It was being conducted by MAG Auctions. New to the area, it is filling the spot once held by Silver and Peterson auctions. Owned by Mike Oberle, MAG also presents the mega “Hot August Nights” sale in Reno, scheduled for August 3-5.
After last week’s Portland Transmission Warehouse show, Bradley asked if we go could to another show this weekend. I mentioned the auction and he was enthusiastic. Two of his friends wanted to come along as well.
At 10 a.m. Saturday morning, we loaded up the 1972 Mercedes 250C that Chip Starr has diligently been bringing back to life and headed south. There was plenty of room for all five of us.
Being in the 250C reminded me that every time you are in an old car, you are traveling in time. We were experiencing what a top-line Mercedes was like to drive in 1972.
I’m pleased with the way this build is turning out. The combination of more power from the Weber carbs and the higher-speed rear end from the 300D combine to make the car a comfortable cruiser. The A/C blows ice-cold, and you have a commanding view of the road looking over the gargantuan steering wheel. It will be perfect for the SCM 1000.
I haven’t been to a regional auction in some time. Parking was easy, and the MAG staff was attentive and pleasant as we picked up our credentials.
There were over 300 cars offered. They ranged from kit-built hot rods to sports cars to American muscle. All the lots were staged attractively and nicely detailed.
We turned Bradley and his two friends Joe and Alex loose. For the next couple of hours, they bobbed and weaved between the cars, sat in the grandstands to watch the auctioneers at work (“energetic” was the way the kids described them) and ate their fill from the pop-up food carts.
I enjoyed answering their questions. They asked if the $80,000 a plastic Cobra brought was a good price, so we talked about replicas versus originals. We looked at the door gaps on a variety of cars. We discussed the difference between hot rods, customs, muscle cars and sports cars.
For me, it was as if I had gotten them into an automotive museum but without the stigma of it being a “learning” experience.
My favorite car was a pristine 1971 Ford Maverick. It was a six-cylinder with a floor-shift 3-speed and factory under-dash air. It was the only Maverick I have ever seen at auction in my 35 years of attending them. It was a sure trophy winner at any Lemons event.
I tried to explain that sometimes a great example of a crappy car can have its own appeal.
However, the kids just thought it was dumb. It sold for about $9k all in. And not to me.
After a few hours, the five of us piled back into our time machine and headed home.
The kids babbled non-stop about the cars they had looked at, and what fun it was to listen to the banter between the auctioneers.
In the collector car world, there is a lot of teeth-gnashing about how we are going to get “the next generation” involved with old cars.
I have long maintained the solution is a simple one. Get kids involved with old cars in ways that are engaging and fun for them. At the MAG auction, they could walk around, corn dogs in hand, and just go from car to car.
They weren’t having to understand the relative importance of a Duesenberg SJ compared to a Mercedes-Benz Autobahn-Kurier. We never once talked about why “one car was more important than other.” They simply decided what appealed to them.
They are ready for another auction, and I’m sure they will have more questions.
The MAG auction is a great addition to the local scene, and I look forward to attending the next one.