Hollywood Movie Car Auction

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2006 Dodge police car
1953 Cadillac convertible among those available at the Hollywood Movie Car Auction | Larry Crane photos
1953 Cadillac convertible among those available at the Hollywood Movie Car Auction | Larry Crane photos

Ted Moser is a high achiever, champion cattle roper, master mechanic and fabricator, legendary NASCAR fan, purveyor of motor vehicles to the film and television industry, credentialed actor and a stylish guy — with something like 1,000 cars give-or-take in several large lots across Southern California.

“I just can’t afford to store them any more,” he tells me.

The Movie Car Auction could solve some of that challenge.

Certificate of Authenticity on 1969 Mercedes-Benz 230 sedan
Certificate of Authenticity on 1969 Mercedes-Benz 230 sedan

These auction temptations were not collector treasures, these were film and television veterans of all manner of drama. There were a few pretty drivers with shiny paint, and some little more than car shards, but they take up valuable California real estate in either case.

Cadillacs were the largest number of a single marque, though only a few of them remained useful as transportation. A baby-blue ’53 convertible was pure Hollywood from the Golden Era. The pink ’58 Sedan de Ville is more Beverly Hills entrepreneur and would pay for itself as a wedding rental — or a prom coach.

Police cars represented the greatest volume, though of different police car makers, some painfully illustrated the hard life of a TV cop story.

There was a sad, if formerly fabulous, ’58 Lincoln Continental and a scattered set of Mustang veterans of rough chase scenes.

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For the most macho among us there were a pair of incredibly effective Mercedes-Benz Unimogs in different stages of disassembly, another pair of U.S. military-style Six-bys for someone with a dream of moving to central Baja or simply in search of something that will consume fuel at a rate of 6 mpg — and a fat-tired yellow Hummer — lined up next to an early teens Dodge phaeton.

The most recent vehicle noted in the lot was a Range Rover that appeared to be in great condition and is the most representative of a Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive shopping car — the other perspective of a movie car.

One might have landed a bargain, but warrantees were thin on the ground and deferred maintenance might be a multiple of the selling price.

At the end of the 100+ degree day, reading the posted “industry” provenance on the Picture Car Warehouse window stickers and remembering all those scripted visions of life was worth the trip.

Photography by Larry Crane

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Larry Crane has been an automotive literature aficionado from childhood. Car books and magazines represented most of his reading experience. He moved to Southern California in his early twenties to be close to his favorite cars. After a WestPac stint in the Navy, he was offered a position redesigning Motor Trend magazine. Then, for Steve Earle, he created America's first vintage road racing magazine as both editor and designer. FromVintage Racer he joined Road & Track and then David E. Davis Jr., asked him to help create a new kind of car magazine, Automobile. After 12 years, Crane took his family back to Los Angeles to create his dream magazine, AUTO Aficionado, which attracted an impressive cadre of the most influential members of the collector car hobby until the national economy made that one impossible to continue.