Back in January, classic car collectors spent nearly $250 million at auctions in Arizona. Silver Auctions’ piece of that pie was a mere sliver — at $3.1 million it was less than 2 percent — and yet Mitch Silver was thrilled.
“We were very, very happy with it,” the founder of Silver Auctions said as he arrived back in Arizona for yet another sale at the Fort McDowell resort and casino in Fountain Hills, just east of Scottsdale.
Silver, it seems, wasn’t the only one who was happy with his sale in January. Consignors filled every available slot for the two-day event, so Silver has decided to expand his sale next January to three days, starting on Thursday evening and then going all day Friday and Saturday.
But that’s next year. This weekend, Silver Auctions will offer some 200 cars for bidding, starting around 4 p.m. Friday and resuming at 10 a.m. Saturday, the first hour or so of each round devoted to automobilia.
Speaking of automobilia, Silver notes that such sales at his auction in January exceeded $70,000.
But the emphasis is on cars, and he noted that he’ll offer everything from an outstanding 1967 Volkswagen “bug” that should sell for less than $10,000 to a 1940 Ford convertible street rod that figures to draw bids of $70,000 or more.
He’s also excited about a just-consigned and brand-new to the market 1967 Chevrolet Impala SS convertible, with a 396-cubic-inch V8 and automatic transmission.
“It’s date-coded properly but it’s not matching numbers,” he said. “That takes it off the stratosphere, but you can drive it and enjoy it every day.
“It’s from a restorer we’ve worked with for many years. We’re expecting mid-20s and it’s a lot of car for that.”
Not being “numbers matching” makes the Impala much more affordable, but doesn’t detract from the fun of driving the car.
Nobody ever asks that about (numbers matching on) Fords or GTOs.”
— Mitch Silver
[/pullquote]“Nobody ever asks that about Fords or GTOs,” Silver said. “They just want to know if it’s a proper engine. But Chevy just happened to put numbers on there so you can check it easily.
“My personal response is that for most collectors, you can take a car and you can change every piece of sheet metal and chrome and every piece of the interior and the glass and rebuild it and the question of numbers matching never comes up. But that big chunk of iron under the hood that actually can wear out and it’s the one thing you’re not supposed to change!
“That’s not to discount the fact that when you find a pristine car that has not been altered, it is a blueprint for how to restore the car properly, and those cars should be preserved,” Silver added.
“But I think there are a lot of people who don’t know why it (numbers matching) makes a difference (he added that it does make a difference with “big block” Chevys and Corvettes). But they still ask, ‘is it numbers matching?’ “
Take, for example, Silver said, a 1980s-era Corvette that’s been “painted a couple of times and has 150,000 miles and 350cid. Numbers matching is not an important question. The car already has been gone through too many times. Just keep it on the road and let somebody enjoy it and learn about the hobby.”
Spoken like a true educator (which is what Mitch Silver was, a car-collecting college professor, in his previous life).