Sellers, buyers don't always get what they hope for

AUBURN, Ind. — RM Auctions America staged its 2011 Labor Day sale here and checked out the inventory before the holiday crowds surged through the gates and the fast-paced bidding got underway.

Golf carts buzzed around the expansive grounds like bees prior to 3 p.m. Thoughtful potentials buyers, or their representatives, looked under hoods, checked out interiors, eyed sheet metal and took notes.

Jerry Taplin was outside the main auto auction arena putting the finishing touches on one of the two vehicles he had brought from his home in Bentonville, Ark.

Taplin was hoping his restored 1977 Ford F-150 Flareside with 460-inch engine and Holley 650 Single Pamper carburetor might bring as much as $18,000 at the RM Auctions America sale. Taplin said the vehicle had a two-year, body-off restoration before he bought it in 2010.

“It has an oak plank (pickup) bed and great road manners,” said Taplin, who back home volunteers as a musician at assisted living residences. “We’ll sell it here, head down to Arkansas and then up to the show at Frankenmuth.”

Sell it he did, but the handsome truck’s final price, including the 10 percent auction commission, was a disappointing $8,525.

That’s often the way it happens. At auctions, the winners may be those who pick up a good vehicle for a modest price, making the sellers something like losers – except they are rid of their merchandise.

Prices reported by RM Auctions include the 10-percent sale commission.

An unusually attractive, garnet-red 1941 Lincoln Continental convertible with 302-inch high-output engine and six-way Park Avenue seats changed hands for $19,800. A remarkable 1983 version of a late-1920s/early-1930s Duesenberg dual-cowl Phaeton II brought a mind-numbing $126,500.

It wasn’t a great do for some Packards. The bidding stopped at $47,500 and produced no sale for this elegant, two-tone 1941 Packard 110 convertible. A 1931 Packard 840 Phaeton with Ray Dietrich design encouraged bids up to $120,00; it, too, did not sell. A 1936 Packard four-door sedan with V-12 engine did not sell when the bidding stalled out at $31,000.

A 1927 Cadillac seven-passenger Tourist Phaeton was among the special vehicles residing in the main auction building during the sale days. This worn and unusual vehicle once carried visitors to Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. Its final sale price was $101,750.

There were many hold-outs, from exotic customs to classics whose owners felt bids were too low. A 1950 Buick customized by Gene Howard of Bloomington, Ill. in the late 1950s went unsold following a high bid of $24,000. A 1966 Oldsmobile 88, barely recognizable with its John D’Agustino mild make-over, for some reason dropped out of the running before it was scheduled to cross the auction block.

The owner of a handsome 1931 Chrysler with close-coupled trunk/rear end said no thanks to a high bid of $67,000, and a fine-looking, wine-and-cream 1941 Packard 110 convertible went unsold in spite of an offer of $47,500.

Among the more interesting, photogenic and unusual cars was a 1939 Morgan 4/4 Coventry Climax with aluminum body and fenders. The seller said it was among the first Morgans to be built with four wheels. The four-cylinder engine was fitted with a Meadows transmission. The Morgan had a final sale price of $40,700.

Parked not far away, a bright-red 1941 Kurtis-Buick two-seater hand-built sports car also attracted attention and some serious bidding, but it went unsold when buyers lost interest (or nerve) at $140,000 and the seller declined.