Dragone Brothers, Westport, Connecticut, May 30, 2015
It would be inaccurate to say that Manny and George Dragone have been finding antique, classic and rare cars their entire adult lives. They started as teenagers and have built a reservoir of knowledge, relationships and contacts that is perhaps second-to-none among modern dealers.
In the Northeast, where the automobile was born in America, Manny and George Dragone know where to look, whom to call and what is choice.
They kicked off their ‘Greenwich Weekend’ auction four years ago, trading on the profile created by Bruce and Genia Wennerstrom’s Greenwich Concours d’Elegance and Bonham’s Sunday auction at the Concours. But it is unfair to Manny and George to characterize them as ‘followers’; they’ve been in the forefront of finding, collecting and restoring old cars for fifty years and regular exhibitors at Greenwich, Hershey, Amelia Island and Pebble Beach with some – simply – marvelous old cars. Give the Dragone brothers – and the next generation, Alex – full credit for finding, preserving and popularizing some of the finest early cars.
These guys are pioneers of car collecting.
On the other hand, they haven’t been very good at auctions.
For their second sale, three years ago in 2013, they brought in an auction block crew better suited to selling the contents of abandoned storage lockers. The crew knew nothing of cars, or of collectors’ motivations. Manny and George were supposed to introduce the cars on the block but spent most of their time off the block trying to make deals and manage the lineup. The sale dragged interminably, to the point where people just went out to dinner in preference to enduring more frustration.
It was agonizing, and apparently it didn’t get any better in 2014 in May or after Hershey.
That all changed this year when they brought in John Kruse and Rod Egan from Worldwide Auctions to call the sale. Rod Egan on the block for the cars picked up the energy, knew the inventory and the crowd. Manny’s descriptions were timely, undistracted and appropriate. John Kruse worked the bidders as a ringman who knew his audience.
It was a wholly different experience, in a very good way.
The numbers aren’t stellar (and the pre-sale preview organization still has a long way to go) but this year’s Dragone auction in Westport puts them in a place much more than following the trend toward ever-more auctions and presents some desirable, interesting cars not likely to be seen elsewhere.
Dragone Greenwich 2015 – Auction Report