WARM SUN, COOL CARS: Enthusiasts enjoy first day of Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach

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Kicking off what is set to be the best Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction to date, Wednesday night’s entertaining Opening Night Gala featured the larger-than-life John Staluppi not only talking about his Cars of Dreams Collection but serenading the crowd with a rousing rendition of “My Way.” It was just one of many memorable moments of the evening, where guests wined, dined and cut loose on the dance floor to the music of Soul Survivor.

Service station gas pumps took top honors at today's Automobilia Auction, with a Sunoco Oil model from around 1948 (right, Lot #6193) leading the pack.

Service station gas pumps took top honors at today’s Automobilia Auction, with a Sunoco Oil model from around 1948 (right, Lot #6193) leading the pack.

The renowned Gala was the perfect opening act to the main event: the 16th Annual Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach Auction, which got underway today. As soon as the gates opened, visitors flocked to see the 700-plus cars on display before their moments in the spotlight, including the extraordinary John Staluppi Cars of Dreams Collection, stunningly showcased in its own massive air-conditioned structure at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

The morning began with the first 100 pieces of authentic automobilia up on the auction block – the beginning of what Barrett-Jackson Automobilia Director Rory Brinkman says will be the finest Palm Beach automobilia offering ever, with over 400 items selling at No Reserve, including items from the James F. Scott Estate Collection. Meticulously restored service station gas pumps caught bidders’ eyes today, with five snapping up the top spots, including a Sunoco Oil pump from circa 1948.

Retired Captain Tommy Clack (left), with his new mobility-equipped Ford F-250 pickup, courtesy of Wounded Warrior Family Support and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Retired Captain Tommy Clack (left), with his new mobility-equipped Ford F-250 pickup, courtesy of Wounded Warriors Family Support and the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Keeping with Barrett-Jackson tradition, the National Anthem – superbly sung by 17-year-old Cassie Ortiz of Wellington, Florida – got the collector cars rolling on day one, with nearly 200 electic vehicles making their way across the auction block. Taking top honors today was a stunning 1950 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible (Lot #130) that sold for $110,000. Other top-selling vehicles of the day included a 1967 Pontiac GTO Convertible (Lot #145), a pair of 1950s pickups (Lot #126 and Lot #111) and a 1956 Chevrolet 210 Custom 2-Door Post (Lot #76).

The most moving moment of today’s activity was the presentation of a special mobility-equipped F-250 to retired Captain Tommy Clack, a Purple Heart recipient. The Vietnam veteran – joined onstage by a number of other Purple Heart recipients – was initially pronounced dead after losing his legs and right arm, as well as suffering internal injuries and loss of hearing, in a 1969 attack on his U.S. Army unit on the Cambodian border. In partnership with the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Wounded Warriors Family Support selected Captain Clack to receive the truck, which has been signed with words of gratitude by Americans from all walks of life, as a token of appreciation for his service and sacrifice for our country.

The excitement continues to build tomorrow, as the first of the John Staluppi Cars of Dreams Collection takes to the stage.

Enjoy the videos below of the Opening Night Gala and today’s top sellers, as well as a gallery of images highlighting the fun from around the auction site:

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Barrett-Jackson's Driven Hearts charity initiative to raise funds and heart health awareness is in full swing in Palm Beach.

Barrett-Jackson’s Driven Hearts charity initiative to raise funds and heart health awareness is in full swing in Palm Beach.

Matt Llewellyn of Bridgepoint Risk Management and Jerry Alspach of Woodside Credit discussed the finances of car collecting with moderator Pat Patterson of NASCAR Radio for one of today's Behind The Hobby Collector Car Symposiums

Matt Llewellyn of Bridgepoint Risk Management (left) and Jerry Alspach of Woodside Credit (center) discussed the finances of car collecting with moderator Pat Patterson of NASCAR Radio for one of today’s Behind The Hobby Collector Car Symposiums

Burning rubber at the Dodge Thrill rides today.

Burning rubber at the Dodge Thrill rides today.

17-year-old Cassie Ortiz sang today's National Anthem.

17-year-old Cassie Ortiz sang today’s National Anthem.

Lot #130 - 1950 CADILLAC SERIES 62 CONVERTIBLE - $110,000

Lot #130 – A 1950 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible – was today’s top seller, at $110,000.

LOT #145 - 1967 PONTIAC GTO CONVERTIBLE

LOT #145 – 1967 PONTIAC GTO CONVERTIBLE

LOT #126 - 1956 FORD F-100 CUSTOM PICKUP

LOT #126 – 1956 FORD F-100 CUSTOM PICKUP

LOT #76 - 1956 CHEVROLET 210 CUSTOM 2-DOOR POST

LOT #76 – 1956 CHEVROLET 210 CUSTOM 2-DOOR POST

LOT #111 - 1951 CHEVROLET PICKUP

LOT #111 – 1951 CHEVROLET PICKUP

Purple Heart recipient, retired Army Captain Tommy Clack (center), with Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis, Founder and President of Wounded Warriors Family Support Colonel John Folsom, UAW-Ford National Veterans Department Assistant Director David Berry, Ford Performance Marketing Manager Jim Owens and fellow Purple Heart recipients after Clack was presented with his new Ford F-250 pickup.

Purple Heart recipient, retired Army Captain Tommy Clack (center), with Barrett-Jackson President Steve Davis, Founder and President of Wounded Warriors Family Support Colonel John Folsom, UAW-Ford National Veterans Department Assistant Director David Berry, Ford Performance Marketing Manager Jim Owens and fellow Purple Heart recipients after Clack was presented with his new Ford F-250 pickup.

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