Pinehurst twist sets off two historic premiers

PINEHURST, N.C. — Major concours are often preceded by an auction of classic and collectible cars. It’s a natural pairing.

Historic Pinehurst followed suit and added a special twist: it was the site of two premiers the first weekend in May. RKM Collector Car Auctions had its first-ever classics sales event here May 4; it was followed the next day by the inaugural Pinehurst Concours d’Elegance.

Saturday’s sale comprised 111 cars and trucks and generated close to $2 million in sales. Twenty-five vehicles sold. The top four included a 1970 Dodge Charger ($185,000), two 1963 Chevrolet Corvettes ($183,000 and $161,000) and another 1970 Dodge Charger ($140,000).

Charlotte, N.C.-based RK Motors added the RKM Collector Car Auctions to its business portfolio earlier this year.

“We’re encouraged by the final numbers posted from our inaugural event,” said Jamie Wiehe, RK Motors Charlotte director of marketing.

“Our primary goal for the Pinehurst event was to replicate the RK Motors brand standards in a new sales environment, and continue to offer some of the best cars in the classic car marketplace today,” Wiehe said.

Seller Danny Burnstein was up from Columbia, S.C. in hopes of selling his award-winning 1954 Ford Crestliner. Designed by Keith Kaucher and featuring air suspension and a tri-power 390 with top-loader four-speed manual, the Ford appeared ready for an invitation to a major custom show.

And Burnstein, an experienced collector, said he was ready to move on to another automotive project. The purple rhapsody Crestliner, with custom 1954 Chevrolet grille, a tilt column with Mooneyes steering wheel and upgraded sound system, did not sell at the May 4 auction.

But an unrestored, single-family-owned 1964 Amphicar did: for $64,000. The like-new amphibious convertible, with its proper nautical safety equipment and two rear propellers, offered no guarantees as to its seaworthiness but apparently had tremendous appeal to a buyer. It had 6,154 miles on its 14-horsepower 1.2-liter engine.

An auction volunteer assigned to watch over some of the sale cars said he thought Amphicars likely took on water if left afloat too long. The strange little vehicles, available in four colors, were built in West Germany and equipped with pumps, just in case.

Another product of the 1960s, a ’65 Ford Mustang fastback with “$129,000 in receipts” and powered by a Smeding Performance 575-horsepower 428 V-8 mated to a five-speed manual, was offered at Pinehurst but did not sell.

On the “sold” list was a long, seamless 1951 Joe Bailon Mercury, the result of a 10-year build and extensive re-working. The custom housed a 351 Windsor V-8. It sold at auction for $37,000.

RK Motors’ Wiehe praised the high quality of vehicles for sale at Pinehurst May 4.

“The average price for vehicles sold was approximately $70,000,” Wiehe said.

“As with any first time event, there were lessons learned but we’re looking forward to implementing that knowledge and creating an even better customer experience for our November auction in Charlotte,” Wiehe said.