We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.
Year’s end approaches, but before we follow Robert Burns’ instructions to “take a cup o’kindness yet” on New Year’s Eve, we hope you’ll take a few moments in the next few days to reflect on the year we’ve experienced within the collector car community.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll present our annual countdown of what we, the staff of the ClassicCars.com Journal, believe are the top-10 stories of the year for the collector car community. It’s been a year in which the theme song more likely comes from James Taylor than Robert Burns, because, yes, we’ve seen much too much of fire and rain.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The purpose of this piece today is to introduce the upcoming series, and to mention the stories that didn’t make our top-10 list. They are:
The news back in March that Edd China was separating from the Wheeler Dealers television show. China is the car world’s version of Big Bird, a tall but friendly fella who turned so-called reality television into educational TV with his instructive mechanical magic wrought on so many vehicles. But after 13 seasons, the producers wanted to move the show from the UK to the US, and Edd decided he preferred to stay home.
Also during the spring, the Leake Auction Company posted the largest sale in its long history, a history that runs all the way back to 1972, when a 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari sold for $3.7 million at Leake’s Dallas auction.
More big auction news: A 1968 Shelby Mustang GT500 stolen in 1970 was discovered in 2011 by a California policeman who also was a Mustang enthusiast. The car was impounded, three years later, a judge ruled on the car’s ownership, a sale ensued quickly, and this summer the car emerged on the docket for the MAG auction held during Hot August Nights in Reno, where bidders did not have to worry whether the car still was “hot.”
Yet another auction, but this time it’s not a car that attracts big bids but a wristwatch. But not just any watch, this is the Rolex Daytona that Joanne Woodward bought and had engraved and gave to her husband, Paul Newman, back in the late 1960s. “Drive Carefully. Me” was the inscription as she fretted about Newman’s plunge into auto racing. The watch was offered for sale for the first time at a Phillips’ auction in New York City and both the worlds of watch and car collecting were stunned when the watch sold for more than $17.75 million.
Another celebrity brought attention to the collector car world in 2017 when Ralph Lauren not only used his own car collection as inspiration for his newest line of fashions, but unveiled those fashions during an A-List evening at his own “garage.”
Eldon Hostetler assembled the finest collection of Hudson automobiles on the planet, but after his widow’s death earlier this year, the facility in Shipshewana, Indiana, was scheduled to be closed and the cars sold off at auction. A local group called themselves the Friends of the Shipshewana Hudson Automobile Museum and were granted time to see if they could find enough funding to keep the museum from disbanding — and keep a significant tourist attraction open in a town that thrives on such business. At last check, the museum remained open.
The spreading popularity of car collecting can be seen in the spread as well of businesses that feed the need to buy and to sell those vehicles. Thus national collector car dealers such as Streetside Classics and Gateway Classic Cars and others are spreading their geographic footprints across the nation.