My First Collector Car Auction

When it comes to this hobby (or more appropriately, lifestyle), I enjoy the opportunities I am given to experience many different aspects of it. There are shows, meets, track days, cruises, and other events to keep busy with but there was one that I had yet to ever attend; an auction.

A few weeks back at a Barlow meet I had the opportunity to meet Kevin, the director of events for Enthusiast Events. Recognizing the Focus, he extended an invitation to attend the then-upcoming show Horsepower at Spruce Meadows. It was being hosted in conjunction with Okotoks Collector Car Auction Ltd and the whole event sounded like fun so I registered and got the car ready.

I had tried to coordinate with some others at Kevin’s request to help represent the local ‘tuner’ community better but their calendars were already full; as it turned out though on the day of the show the weather wasn’t the greatest anyway, so the turnout wasn’t as large as it could have been. Regardless, a decent number of us made our way over early that morning and got our vehicles set up. I ended up attending with the Thunderbird Club and spent the day with my mother and our friend Ian, both of whom brought out their Thunderbirds for the event.


I am fairly certain that this was the first time I had ever actually gone to Spruce Meadows so we took some time during roll-in/set-up to wander around and see more of the venue. For those unaware, it’s an equestrian facility that originally opened back in 1976 – making it 40 this year as it happens!


Since we’d be walking I also fired up PoGo and found that Spruce Meadows was quite Pokèstop-heavy. Yeah I’m a geek, so what? I’ll often let this run at meets to log steps.


It was a cool morning but I was quite comfortable as we kept on exploring.  The grounds are actually fairly massive; we walked for a little while and only saw a fraction of the entire place. I definitely hope to have a chance to return; we’ll have to find another event to attend I suppose!


We kept exploring for a little bit but then it started to sprinkle outside so we decided to see if we could get into the auction tent. At this point in the morning things were still being set up for the main event but we were able to take a look around and check out the vehicles that would be looking for new owners in a few hours’ time.


Immediately my attention went to this Mustang – it was an original Cobra R (#187/300 ever made) with around 5000 miles on it. I have seen Shelbys new and old, Roush Mustangs, and even a new GT350R, but had never seen a Cobra R in person before this.


Once I could be dragged away we carried on wandering around the building. I really enjoyed the variety that we saw in front of us.


This Jaguar E-Type was hard to miss. Showing some signs of age, it was noted as a largely original example. Having a perfect car is nice but they’re only original once!


This 1973 Landcruiser had previously undergone a full frame-off restoration and basically hadn’t been driven since completion. A ton of work had gone into this one!


This Porsche 911S ended up selling for one of the highest amounts – if not the highest amount – of the day which wasn’t surprising given its rarity and the care it had seen.


This shot gives a bit of an idea of the variety. Mini, Mustang, 911S, Suburban; there was even a Cobra (replica) and a couple of new Corvettes.


Reading over the info for this S 600, I started laughing when I got to the last line. “You will be able to blow the doors off annoying 5L Mustangs and practically anything else on the road. What fun.”

Does Sir wish to embarrass Mustangs today? Shall I fetch the S 600 then?


I couldn’t walk by this Suburban without taking a closer look and I was glad I did; I’m biased towards these as we have one (the following generation granted) and it has been bulletproof since day one. This ’81 model was a completely original and unrestored ‘burban, and could have passed for a new vehicle. One owner as well!


We kept on looking though the cars inside for a little while but eventually ran out of things to look at. Not to worry, there were more outside! There were two additional lots of cars but it was in this one – the first one – where I found what was the biggest surprise of the show for me.


All stock. Mint-condition. Two owners. BC car. This 240SX checked every box! As if that wasn’t crazy enough, you’ve surely noticed that it was a convertible too! I had seen it listed on the handout we received for the auction but without photos or further information I didn’t know quite what to expect (or what body style it was even) – I wasn’t expecting this, I’ll tell you that!


If a 90’s Nissan wasn’t your thing though, there were other options. There were even a handful of Thunderbirds, as it happened.


We kept looking outside but I didn’t take too may photos given the light rain. Back inside I carried on snapping some more though, before the crowds had a chance to take over and block the cars.


Blue on blue GTO complete with the always-cool hood-mounted tachometer.


There was the odd right-hand drive vehicle at the auction including this 1992 Defender which had seen a lot of work by the then-current owner. It seemed no expense was spared in looking after this one.


Fast-forwarding a little bit, we decided we had spent enough time checking out the auction cars for a bit and went back over to the show itself. As mentioned attendance was not huge because of the weather but some real gems were brought out regardless.


Even the Consulier was in the lot, surely confusing some people as to what it was exactly. The ‘BANNED’ plate makes me smile every time.


As nice as the rest of the cars were though, the stand-outs for me were these. When was the last time you saw stock and mint examples of a 300ZX, NSX, and RX-7 together? Three icons from three different manufacturers, all left just as they were on day 1. The plates on the 300ZX and RX-7 were just icing on the cake.


Slow clap.


I didn’t get the opportunity to say hi to the owners but I wonder if any of these are still one-owner vehicles?


In preparation for the show I had given the Focus a quick wash the night before…oh well!


Even though we had expected to primarily spend our day at the car show portion of the event, the lower attendance combined with the weather made us rethink our plan and we decided to get some seats in time for the start of the auction. None of us had ever witnessed a car auction live before so it was something new and I was also curious to see what some of the cars would wind up going for.


I had watched collector car auctions on TV before but being able to actually witness one live sounded like a good way to spend a day!


We found some seats near the front (conveniently this also put us near the food) and I put on my telephoto in preparation for the cars and trucks to start coming around…


…and other things too…


The vehicles were generally all pushed around to the stage; it was easy to tell which had been parked outside!


We watched as one by one the various vehicles were brought up and bidding took place. Yelling and shouting was heard as people would go back and forth and try to take home whatever they had their eye on.


One of the auctions I was waiting for was the Cobra R’s; partially just because I wanted to see it some more. We’re fortunate that Calgary and the surrounding areas are home to a number of truly rare and special vehicles, and I’m glad I got to see one of these up close and personal.


With 100 or so vehicles to auction off and only one going at a time, it was a decently long event but I happily watched as it went on. I forget how long we ended up staying but it was definitely later than we had originally anticipated. I believe we certainly made the best of the wet weather and I’d definitely attend another auction given the chance. I think I had just as much fun as I would have if the show were packed and we spent the day outside instead.


The whole atmosphere perhaps got the better of my mother and Ian though, as they started looking at the cars a little more seriously. Being enthusiasts and existing owners, they had both been looking at both this Thunderbird and another with the idea that maybe one of them would take one home, but in the end I don’t believe either car met its reserve price and so they went back without new owners.


It was a little disappointing to miss out on the Thunderbirds but then, near the end of the day, that mint little 240SX came up front for its turn…and let’s just say we’ll certainly never forget our first collector car auction after what happened next.


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