When reality is anything but real, the televised auction

Reality TV is a source of both entertainment and irritation.  In my role as a collector car appraiser I often have people tell me things they think they know about values based on what they see on TV. Let’s get one thing out in the open, most reality TV shows are not completely real and certainly not transparent enough to be taken at face value.

I can advise that you are better off assuming that what you see on reality TV, particularly car related TV, is forced, manipulated, scripted or just plain baloney. 

People love to tell me how they saw something sell for big bucks on one of the televised auctions. If they sell the car at auction it must be correct, they insist.  The short answer is not really. 

When Barrett-Jackson or Mecum televises their sales they know exactly when the cameras are going to role and what cars are going to cross at those times. If they have a big car or something special they want to make sure looks good for the cameras you can bet they are negotiating with their well-vetted customers before the sale ever starts. Deals often include offers of discounted commissions to buyers if they bid on certain lots or special arrangements to sell or buy another car. Extra pressure is often applied to sellers to accept bids so the viewer can hear the car being sold. 

This is not to say the buyer’s aren’t real and the sales aren’t real. They are mostly real. The incentives get manipulated to bolster the potential outcome and most importantly to enhance the theater of the sale. I’m not saying this is every televised transaction. But it does happen with some regularity. 

Buyer’s are also susceptible to the influences of the video camera. Some buyers love to get on the screen and they can accomplish this by going to inspect the car and or by bidding when the cameras are rolling.  In the collector car world, where some players have more money than they know what to do with, they can buy a car just to get attention for themselves if their egos are that in need. 

Worse yet, it is no accident that the major auction companies open the bar at the same time as the gates open to the spectators. Get your wealthy clientele liquored up by the time the cameras role and throw them some commission incentives and let the money and egos create some auction excitement for the cameras.  This formula has been working for as long as the auctions have been televised. 

It’s simple,  don’t believe everything you see on the TV auctions. 

1000 miles in a vintage sports car

I have driven more old cars, more miles than I can possibly account for. 

But, I have never driven a vintage car as intensely as I recently did on the Mountain Mille rally. 

The Mountain Mille is four days and 1000 miles of Virginia and West Virginia back roads driven by two person teams in sports cars. You may run against the clock in typical time-distance-miles style rallying or just take in the fantastic scenery while covering lots of miles in a cool car of your choosing.  Either way, you drive and many participants drive very hard. 

I was driving a 1957 Jaguar XK140 MC drophead, a legacy car that belonged to my father. In fact, the rally marked the 20th anniversary of the week my parents ran the New England 1000 in the same car. My sister was my navigator for this adventure; I gave her this trip as a birthday present. I also chose this event on this date to honor our parents. 

Neither of us have ever done a real rally. We have both done one-day events with more modern cars and longer tours at a leisurely pace but never anything like this. We instantly fell in love with it!

I thought all the driving in the old car with drum brakes, leaf springs, non-synchronized first gear and iffy weather protection would be a total exhausting experience but for most of it, that was not the case. Driving with the top down in the lovely late spring weather, taking in the breathtaking scenery and enjoying being at one with a car that has no driving aids, no radio, no climate control, leaving you feeling totally connected to the machine, the road and the place was fantastic. 

Okay, when it was all over, I was exhausted. But, it was like being exhausted from being at the beach all day. You feel recharged.  I’m doing this again.  I recommend you look into a driving event for you and your favorite car.  


For more information about the Mountain Mille and other rallies run by Vintage Rallies go to www.vintagerallies.com


The beginning selfie

Just before the first checkpoint

A road trip with a purpose

2700 miles is a long drive pulling a car trailer.

But it was worth it to attend the 20th Anniversary of the McPherson College Motoring Festival in McPherson Kansas—nearly the midpoint of the USA. The only school that offers a four-year degree in automobile restoration, McPherson hosted 400 cars on the show field including my 1951 Allard K2.

A superb collection of cars; the impressive student work done in the program; and the amazing effort and energy of nearly 160 young people pulling together this terrific event convinced me of one thing; The car hobby is in good hands with the next generation of enthusiasts. They have the skills, the knowledge, the desire, and the interest. All they need is our support.

Go to car shows. Share your car with the future collectors. Let them sit in it your car. Take them for a ride. Let them share their own cars with you. Stoke their enthusiasm.

I promise you won’t regret it.

1951 Allard K2 on the show field at the McPherson College car show

1951 Allard K2 on the show field at the McPherson College car show