HomeEventsMAG auction seems ‘just right’ for Hot August Nights festival

MAG auction seems ‘just right’ for Hot August Nights festival


The Motorsport Auction Group was organized in late 2015 with just one purpose:  to hold a collector car auction during the Hot August Nights festival in Reno, Nevada, replacing Barrett-Jackson, which left the venue after the third year of disappointing results.

Observers shrugged, wondering how an upstart auction like MAG could succeed where the mighty Barrett-Jackson had fallen short.  

But going into its third year, the MAG auction seems to have hit on the right combination of ingredients for success, according to Mike Oberle, one of the founders and operators of the one-stop auction company. Sales during the first two years were solid, he added, and interest in this year’s event has been strong.

MAG auction
One of the 1962 Chevy Impala 409 ‘bubble tops’ that will be auctioned

The auction is expecting more than 550 cars to cross the block during its August 9-11 sale, and more than 1,000 bidders have pre-registered, Oberle said.  

“This has become a good local event for us,” Oberle said. “Our bidder count is way up. We’ve been averaging 5-6 bidders (signing up) a day, and I would say that 80 percent are new bidders who have never attended our event. That’s really good. 

“We’re getting a lot of people calling up who have never been to an auction before.  Social media has really been working well.”   

Hot August Nights
1969 Dodge R/T with 426cid Hemi muscle 

There had been a Hot August Nights auction before Barrett-Jackson, a low-key event held for years by Washington-based Silver auctions, but it had been fading as expectations of live auctions were raised by the TV broadcasts of the various high-profile Barrett-Jackson and Mecum auctions, Oberle noted.

So after the glitz of Barrett-Jackson’s three-year stint, the MAG people knew they would have to meet those risen demands.

“When we came in here after Barrett-Jackson, we felt that we kind of had to step it up, and we did,” Oberle said.  “Mitch Silver was here for so long, and he did a basic show, and it worked for him. But now everybody sees it on TV and they’re expecting so much more.”

Hot August Nights
A lightly modified 1955 Chevy Bel Air convertible

Still, the three-day MAG auction is a laid-back affair, he noted, more in line with the expectations of the Hot August Nights crowd of hot rodders, muscle car drivers and car customizers, who might have been put off by the grand scale of Barrett-Jackson. 

“Hot August Nights has always been a sort of working man’s auction,” Oberle said. “And I don’t know why people are intimidated by Barrett-Jackson, but they just are.”

The MAG auction was founded by Oberle and his wife Sandy Oberle, along with Larry Gayhart of San Antonio and Frank Yaksitch of Mansfield, Texas, all of them collector car business owners and veterans of auction buying and selling.

Hot August Nights
A 1965 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 is among the vintage exotics at auction

Oberle said MAG has a good crop of cars going into this year’s auction, with a wide range of vehicles from entry-level collector cars and trucks to high-end muscle cars, street rods and customs, even a few exotics thrown in for good measure.

“This year is kind of cool,” he said.  “We have a lot of different stuff this year, some really good cars.  We have a 1965 330 GT 2+2 Ferrari, and a couple of high-end resto-mods, which are always good. 

“The thing about Hot August Nights, they love those hot rods, probably one of the best auctions to sell hot rods is Hot August Nights.  We’re getting (consigned) quite a few of the hot rods.”

Hot August Nights
A 1966 Chevy Chevelle SS 396 coupe

Classic muscle cars are also well-represented, he added, including “a couple of Impala bubble-top 409 cars, dual-quad cars.  We have a ’70 Hemi Challenger coming, and two ’69 Hemi Charger cars are coming.” 

Added this year are vintage-motorcycle sales, mostly bikes from a California collection, and a good selection of automotive memorabilia, including classic signs and neon, Oberle said.

The two previous auction companies that held Reno sales cited the sheer success of Hot August Nights as negatively affecting their attendance.  The annual celebration in and around the Reno-Spark area is a massive festival of street cruising, car shows, competitions, concerts and events, and socializing among the high-horsepower crowd.  And that busy schedule was seen as crowding out interest in the auction sales. 

Hot August Nights
A 1966 Ford Mustang convertible with a 289 V8 and 4-speed manual

Yet MAG seems to have beaten that problem, widely known as a local auction held as part of Hot August Nights rather than a separate event.  Silver was perhaps too small, and Barrett-Jackson was too big. 

But it seems that MAG is just right.

“I felt like I had big shoes to fill,” Oberle said.  “But the people here, they just want to come and have fun.”

The Motorsport Auction Group sale takes place August 9-11, with a preview day August 8 for bidders and consigners, held at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center.  For more information, visit the auction website, which Oberle said has been frequently updating with new auction vehicles.

Bob Golfen
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.


  1. I’m sorry, but isn’t that a four window 32 Ford?-Front window-check! Back window-check! Drivers window-check! Passenger window-Check! Yes Sir-that makes four windows alright.

  2. I participated in the Hot August Nights Auctions for almost 30 years in 1995 requested to Mitch Silver of Silver Auctions, to open Sunday to exotic’s and that started me to bring, Ferrari, Lamborghini, SLR McClaren and many gorgeous exotic’s to the auction! I have known Mike and Sandy Oberly for many years and they are a Class act, as is there partners, who know what they are doing in the Classic and Exotic style vehicles! The secret here is, they know how to market and sell your vehicles! Example is the rare Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 which is a very rare Ferrari in today’s market! This will be a great auction for 2018! Harry Swift


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