The collector car summer goes out with a roar. For me, it was a blur of events that included Fall Auburn, the Kirkland Concours, Funfest, Fall Carlisle and a visit to the Milhous Collection.

My airline status for next year is assured; I’ll always be the one who gets asked first whether he wants the spinach lasagna or the shrimp chef’s salad. Travel has its rewards.

What all these events have in common is that they celebrate our passion for motorcars. Whether it’s a 2012 Carlisle Blue Corvette ZR1 or a rusty swap meet Renault that is a walking advertisement for checking the date of your last tetanus update, there is someone, somewhere whose life won’t be complete unless this object of their fantasies is in their garage.

31 Flavors

At Fall Auburn, we were filming more episodes of “What’s My Car Worth” for Velocity (formerly Discovery HD Theater). SCMer Donald Osborne was my co-host, and the two of us chanting “Here comes the Judge” as we circled a 1970 Pontiac GTO is sure to go viral on YouTube. Someday.

In just one short year, Fall Auburn has made dramatic strides toward recovering its former strength. RM Auctions bought the derelict, abused remains of Kruse International and created a new division, Auctions America, to operate it. Run by Donnie Gould, Gord Duff, Keith Koscak, Ken Wallace, Glenn Bator and Wayne Pitt, it is as if RM sent in a giant street sweeper to clean up the facilities and the methods of operation. Their initial successes are impressive.

From Auburn it was on to the Kirkland Concours d’Elegance, in Kirkland, WA. This was my ninth year as co-emcee, along with Ed Herrmann, of the event, and it was terrific. It was also the last. The day after the concours, it was announced that the event was being moved to the showfield at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma, WA. The LeMay Museum represents a bold step for car collectors in the Pacific Northwest, and the relocation of the concours is a logical one.

Hotel California, Effingham-style

There was no sense unpacking bags. Wendie and I just grabbed another set and headed to the airport — destination Funfest in Effingham, IL. Accompanying us were Wendie’s father, Chevrolet drag-race engine builder Dick Ewing, Corvette expert Michael Pierce and SCM Advertising Executive Tom Mann.

Funfest was founded 18 years ago by Mike Yager, owner of MidAmerica Motorworks, as a way of giving back to his many Corvette customers. Held on the company grounds in Effingham, IL (about an hour northeast of St. Louis), it attracts well over 15,000 Corvettes for an orgy of all things plastic-fantastic.

I was the emcee at a variety of events. On Saturday night, Yager asked me to warm up the crowd for the band, which featured Don Felder, lead guitarist of the Eagles and composer of many of their best-known hits. Looking out over 20,000 rabid Corvette fans waiting to hear the opening strains of “Hotel California,” it didn’t seem like the right time to give a half-hour talk on the philosophy of what makes a car collectible. Or pontificate about the continued downward spiral of C4 prices. Or to make “Wrap Your Ass in Fiberglass” jokes.

I decided to ask the audience if they loved Corvettes (they did!) and then introduced Yager and his family. Wendie said I did a perfect job.

Grand finale

My final sweep across the country had its first stop in Carlisle, PA, where we filmed this year’s final episodes of “What’s My Car Worth” at Fall Carlisle. In this “Special Edition,” dealers Mark Hyman and Peter Klute tried to buy the cars brought by owners to the show. Auctions America CEO Donnie Gould was there as well, and offered sellers the option of taking their cars across the street to the Fall Carlisle auction.

All nine cars brought to the show sold, to Peter and Mark or through the auction — they’re real deals, with real money involved. The shows air in November. Tune in — I think you’ll enjoy the drama.

We pundits often predict the demise of swap meets such as Fall Carlisle, believing that they will be replaced by the efficiencies and vast inventory of the Internet. We’re wrong. Car guys (and gals) simply get too much pleasure out of hanging out together and haggling over useless old bits, for swap meets to go away. After all, a swap meet is truly a field of dreams, where rusted, incomplete hulks become fully restored jewels in the wide eyes of each enthusiast who walks by.

From Carlisle, it was a short trip to Boca Raton, FL, to film an episode of a new series, “Million Dollar Collections.” Produced by WMCW creator Roger Williams, it takes a look at significant collections and the people behind them. Featured in this episode was the Milhous Collection, being offered for auction in February by RM Auctions and Sotheby’s.

As the host of the show, I spent the day with the co-founder, Bob Milhous, and was the beneficiary of his voluminous knowledge about mechanical musical instruments. Along with his brother Paul, he has put together one of the largest collections of pipe organs, reproducing pianos and more in the world. And let’s not forget the full-sized carousel in the center of the museum.

Milhous started out as a car enthusiast, and still has his first collector car, a 1934 Packard 1101 Convertible Victoria that won best of show at Pebble Beach in 1975. Not a bad way to begin a collection.

As our shoot came to a close, one final trip on an airplane to get me home and back to a waiting family was welcome. Just as there’s no world like the collector car world, there’s no place like home.

Welcome American Car Collector

We’re launching a new magazine. American Car Collector will take the existing Corvette Market and expand it to cover the world of American cars, from Ford to Chevy to Mopar to Hot Rod. Over the years, we have received many requests to increase our coverage of American cars, and having a separate publication will allow us to do that without diluting the content of SCM. There will continue to be profiles of American cars in SCM, and there will be the same number of American cars in the SCM auction reports.

If being immersed in the world of “4-speed, dual quad, Positraction 409s” is your idea of a terrific read, American Car Collector is the magazine for you. As a member of the SCM family, we’re offering you a very attractive “get-to-know-us” introductory offer, take a look at it on the facing page. ?

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