Who knew that the legendary singer/songwriter was also a dedicated Lionel electric-train hobbyist?
A 1948 Buick Roadmaster funeral hearse, a vast collection of model-railroad trains and gear, plus guitars, recording equipment and memorabilia from a lifetime as a legendary rock n’ roller highlights an auction of the collection of singer/songwriter Neil Young, scheduled for Saturday, December 9, at Julien’s Auctions Gallery in Los Angeles.
The 72-year-old Toronto-born rock star, who had been performing in concert regularly until this year and has promised to be back on the road in 2018, wrote some of the greatest songs of the folk/rock movement of the 1960s and ’70s.
Another part of Young’s life, of which most of his many fans are probably unaware, was as an avid Lionel model-train hobbyist, even to the extent of inventing some of the controls and accessories for electric trains produced by the iconic model-railroad company.
Young also collects vintage cars, and the three cars to be auctioned include a Buick hearse that is identical to the one that Young and his band, The Squires, used to haul equipment to their gigs in the early 1960s. That car was the inspiration for one of Young’s many popular songs: “Long May You Run.”
While the original hearse is long gone, Young later obtained the current one for his collection. The auction company values it at $8,000 to $10,000.
Maybe not as meaningful but far more valuable is Young’s first-in-production 1953 Buick Roadmaster Skylark convertible, a 50th anniversary special-edition model with a steering-wheel hub that says “Customized for Neil Young.” The Skylark’s estimated value is $200,000 to $300,000.
The third car, a 1941 Chrysler Series 28 Windsor three-passenger coupe, has double celebrity provenance; according to Young, the car was once owned by none other than the late actor Steve McQueen. Julien’s values it at $15,000 to $20,000, unless of course, Steve McQueen fever takes over the bidding as it has on other auction occasions. In that case, the sky’s the limit.
Young is undoubtedly one of the towering greats of the rock era, touring and recording with his band Crazy Horse, performing along with Steven Stills in Buffalo Springfield, and again with Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. He has written literally dozens of rock anthems, including such hits as “Cinnamon Girl,” “Heart of Gold” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
More than 230 pieces from his Lionel train collection will be offered at the auction, including some unique items, as well as several of his electric and acoustic guitars, amplifiers and a hurdy gurdy used on Young’s recording of “Red Sun.” Also at auction will be several pieces of clothing worn by Young on stage or at events, including a red-and-blue plaid flannel shirt worn in a performance with Paul McCartney at a benefit concert for the Bridge School, with an estimated value of $1,000-$2,000.
For information on the Neil Young sale, visit Julien’s Auctions website.