Three times a year, Mitch Silver brings his laid-back collector car auctions to the Fort McDowell Casino in Arizona: In January during the famous Classic Car Week in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, in March as the snowbirds prepare to fly back to their northern homes, and in November to catch the snowbirds as they return for the sunny winter season.
The fourth annual Arizona in the Fall auction is happening this weekend with the goal of providing a cool set of fun wheels for the out-of-town folks to enjoy over the winter, and possibly re-sell at Silver in the spring. But it’s also just a fun, local sale in which old-car fans can engage without spending a whole lot of money.
The selection is fairly small, about 125 cars waiting on the tarmac around Silver’s auction tent in the casino parking lot. Most of the cars are modest driver-quality vehicles for casual hobbyists to enjoy.
The sale started Friday and runs through Sunday, with each day opening with bidding on a variety of automobilia.
1940 Lincoln Zephyr The classic two-door coupe, with its long, sloping rear styling and V12 flathead engine, was my favorite of all the auction cars. The black paint looks rich and glossy, set off by a set of suitably wide whitewall tires for an authentically vintage look. The interior looks decent, and the seller claims the car is a restored numbers-matching original.
1963 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk Always a favorite, the GT Hawk continued the sleek lines penned by Raymond Loewy’s design team for the 1953 Studebaker, updated for the ’60s. This car looked like a clean driver with decent paint and trim. The seller says it’s a 69,000-mile California car with its original 289 cid V8, automatic, power steering and, for when the Arizona weather turns warm again, factory air conditioning.
1952 Mercury Monterey This is the kind of outlaw custom that I would spy when I was a kid, a slammed Mercury with flat-black paint, dark-tinted windows, lake pipes, baby moon hubcaps and stickers with that cigar-chomping woodpecker down behind the front wheels. The Merc is a real period piece powered by its correct 255 cid V8, and the owner says it has been totally restored and well-maintained.
1956 GMC pickup truck Pickup trucks have grown in popularity among collectors, and this era of General Motors trucks have a lot of stylish charm. This one seems like an honest old pickup that the seller describes as original aside from a repaint in its original shade of baby blue. The original straight-six engine and four-speed manual transmission are on board, and it looks ready to go.
1933 Ford Victoria street rod Built for cruising, the Ford is a full-fendered custom designed to drive anywhere in comfort and reliability, the seller says in the car’s description. The engine is a modern 4.6-liter Ford V8 with a six-speed transmission and 9-inch rear, with all the features of a modern car. The fenders are fiberglass, which might offend some purists, but the car is built to be enjoyed, not fretted over.
1955 Ford Thunderbird Two-seater T’birds from the 1955-57 model years are longtime favorites at collector car auctions, with their clean lines and sporty aura, even though they have always been more boulevard cruisers than sports cars. The first-year version is the purest, and this looks like a sweet one.
1932 Ford rat rod The term “rat rod” used to be something of a put down to describe a backyard project built from bits and pieces. Nowadays, it delineates a certain type of imaginative custom hot rod that has been purposefully designed to look that way, usually slammed as low as humanly possible with a hand-wrought style. Here is a cool example of the breed.
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.