Auction pioneer, Ferrari dealer Kirk F. White dies

He founded the modern collector car auction format, and supplied Ferraris to Penske and for the Cannonball cross-country race

kirk white
Cars and Driver commissioned Ken Dahlison to create artwork re-creating Kirk White's first collector car auction | Illustration courtesy of Kirk F. White

Kirk F. White, the early Philadelphia-based Ferrari dealer who supplied cars that Roger Penske’s team raced and that Brock Yates and Dan Gurney drove across the country, died March 20. He was in his early 80s.

Kirk F. White | 2015 photo

But while White’s Ferraris might be the first things that people remember about his long career in cars, perhaps his most important long-term contribution to the car community was being the founder of the modern collector car auction industry. 

Back in 2015, The Journal published a four-part series on White’s staging of the first modern classic car auction.

“Ranging from small, local events to such extravaganzas as Arizona Auction Week and the mid-summer carfest on California’s Monterey Peninsula, classic car auctions have become a billion-dollar industry annually in the United States,” we wrote at the time. 

“Which got us to wondering: When and where did this industry get its start? So we checked the archives, and asked some old timers, and here’s what we discovered.”

What we discovered was the story of Kirk F. White, which we shared in four installments:

‘It has to work if it were done right,’ so Kirk White staged the first modern classic car auction

‘Tiny’ Gould makes a very big introduction

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The consignments arrive, but so does an act of vandalism

At last, it’s auction day, the first of many to come

White had moved from Philadelphia to semi-retirement in Florida, where he was writing an autobiography, Don’t Wash Mine. He shared completed chapters with friends and also through his Facebook page, where he reported recently that his book would be published, probably late this year, by Dalton-Watson Books.

The various chapters also are available on the Don’t Wash Mine website.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. A great friend, mentor and enthusiast. I met Kirk in 1971 at Daytona when he supplied the 512 Ferrari to Roger Penske. He was an enthusiast first and always ahead of the curve, be it Ferrari’s, Spin Dizzies, hot rods….it was if he could see the future. I’ll miss our conversations and company. He was, indeed, one-of-a-kind. Rest in peace, my friend.

    Bill Warner

  2. Kirk was my Dad. The family is deeply mourning his loss. Seeing this article is such a gift as is your kind comment. Kirk was a true gentleman and he loved my mother and his other children Geoffrey, Chris, Libby and Trip deeply. He was a great father.

    Thank you for this tribute.

    • I had several nice conversations a few year ago with your Dad about the start of his auction business. I’ve enjoyed his subsequent autobiography chapters he’s sent and look forward to the book to be available to read the full story. Cherish the memories as you grieve.

  3. I had a wonderful opportunity to communicate with Kirk over many years . He always enjoyed reminiscing about his wholesale Ferrari experience. He was also an expert on early tin toys. Amanda your father was a special person, figuring you might agree. My condolences to you and your family.


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