SCOTTSDALE AUTOMOBILIA AUCTION SCHEDULE
Sunday, January 24 – 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday and Tuesday, January 25-26 – 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, January 27, through Sunday, January 31 – 8:30 to 10 a.m.
Automotive memorabilia has been around as long as cars themselves. With America’s passion for these nostalgic items continuing to grow, Barrett-Jackson Automobilia Director Rory Brinkman believes lightning will strike twice in the same place in Scottsdale come January. The Ron Pratte Automobilia Collection helped make the Scottsdale 2015 automobilia auction the highest-grossing in history, shattering world records. Now, four stellar collections are combining for the Scottsdale 2016 automobilia auction, creating an offering Brinkman says is equal in importance to Pratte’s.
The collections of Gordon Apker, Art Redford, Jim MacKinnon and Richard LeRoy represent over 85 years of collecting and include more than 800 tin and porcelain signs, 40 restored pedal cars, over 100 neon signs, gas pump globes, service station displays, 35 restored gas pumps, soda collectibles, general store items and more. Incredibly, Apker and Redford are selling just a portion of their collections and have never sold any items from their automobilia collections before. “Collectors have been beating on their doors for years,” says Brinkman. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Apker, who also has an admirable car collection, says he started seriously collecting automobilia when he was in his mid-20s, although he was attracted to the motoring-related memorabilia even earlier, when he worked at a gas station. While he particularly likes automobile-themed toys, Apker has amassed a little bit of everything. He’ll be bringing some 20 pedal cars to Scottsdale, along with restored gas pumps, neon signs, station displays and more.
Apker is quick to point out that selling a portion of his collection doesn’t mean he’s stopping. “It’s hard to change my stripes,” he chuckles. “My favorite piece is probably the next one I’m going to try and find. I’ve always wanted an Aston Martin sign, but the factory takes them back and destroys them. I’ve never gotten one, and probably never will.” He says that over the years he simply bought what he liked, never thinking it would be “worth a darn dime,” but instead collecting things that reminded him of his past. “When I worked at the gas station, I had nothing,” he recalls. “I guess now I’ve gotten to the point where the American dream has been met. I like to go back and remember how it was. I don’t ever want to forget that.”
Like Apker, Redford’s collection is based in the Pacific Northwest, housed with collectible cars in a three-story museum built into a hill behind his house. “I built a small museum in 2000 and was just going to put up a few signs,” he remembers, “but it snowballed.” Redford will be bringing about 450 items to the Scottsdale auction, primarily auto and oil signs, as well as neons. One of the stars, Redford says, is sure to be a six-foot-tall Washington Chief porcelain sign. He says one of the things he likes most about automobilia is that it is readily enjoyed and doesn’t require a lot of upkeep. “You just clean it, hang it up and enjoy it,” he says. Redford, too, has every intention to keep collecting. “I have a dozen or so ‘Holy Grails,’ he laughs. “There’s always one more porcelain sign out there!”
Jim MacKinnon has been collecting automobilia for more than two decades. “I started slowly, picking up signs,” he says. One of his earliest acquisitions was a Mobil Socony Vacuum light-up sign. “I bought it because I had a piece of real estate and one of my tenants was a Mobil gas dealer,” MacKinnon recalls. “I put in in the front window of his station’s convenience store and later sold it for double what I paid for it. I’ve missed it ever since.” He says he’s never seen anything like that again, but that did it for him: he got the bug for collecting. Originally accumulated and displayed in the basement of his Minnesota home, the collection had grown to being housed in a large building. He was actively collecting through this past spring, but with retirement has decided to sell his collectibles. MacKinnon will be bringing some 50 neon signs, gas pump globes, light-up signs and, says Brinkman, “probably the finest advertising clock collection ever to come to auction.”
Richard LeRoy’s collecting passion has always centered around pedal cars. “I had one when I was a kid,” he remembers, “and when I went to an antique show and saw one, I just had to have it.” That first pedal car was a turquoise 1950s Murray Chrysler Town and Country Woody Wagon, complete with faux wood siding. He immersed himself in the hobby. “I bought every book I could to educate myself,” he says. At one point, LeRoy had about 350 pedal cars in his collection, but now has between 60 and 70. He has been selling some to offset the costs of restoring his new “toy” – a full-size 1929 Pierce-Arrow. Expect to see some exquisite examples from LeRoy’s pedal car collection cross the block in Scottsdale.
All in all, more than 1,300 pieces of some of the finest, rarest and most one-of-a-kind automotive collectibles will be offered at the 45th Anniversary Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction, all at No Reserve.