RKM Classic Car Auction, Convention Center, Charlotte, North Carolina, November 1-2, 2013
Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
RK Motors has made a big splash. Funded by Rob Kauffman, it has quickly established itself with a massive inventory.
They entered the auction market last spring at the Pinehurst Concours but set themselves up in the big time with this 2013 sale at the Charlotte Convention Center in November. It featured a generous Thursday reception at the NASCAR Hall of Fame across the street for the locals. There was a good selection of cars, heavy in the restomods, NASCAR racers, American muscle and pony cars that are the related RK Motors’ stock-in-trade.
It also was the weekend of the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, too, and RKM set up a parallel sale during the GP, flying several high dollar cars to the Persian Gulf emirate and simulcasting a block of high dollar cars from Charlotte to a site at the Emirates Palace Hotel. It’s extravagance the collector car market hasn’t seen since the late 80’s bubble.
RK Motors Classic Car Auction was a high-profile jump into the deep end of the pool. No toe-in-the-water here, all the cards were on the table with million-dollar cars (and a few million-dollar wannabes), like a televised poker showdown.
Attendance in Charlotte was sparse. The simulcast went down early in the Abu Dhabi block. Then a spectator had a heart attack in Charlotte, bringing the proceedings to a complete halt for ten or fifteen minutes. The victim survived, and waved as he was wheeled away but it seemed like half an hour before the auctioneer began to sell again and cut deeply into the flow of the most important segment of the sale.
Featured were several cars from Rick Hendrick and Ray Evernham. Neither of them showed up to represent their cars, an inexcusable failure in a sale that prominently promoted their consignments.
To make matters worse, RK Motors had its own bidder walking through the bidder area consulting his clipboard (perhaps containing consignors’ names and reserves?) and bidding regularly. To give credit where it is due, when his bids weren’t exceeded and the cars were hammered sold he signed the tickets, but it’s hardly kosher for the auction company to be bidding covertly from the audience, and calls into question even the meager sell-through rate reported.
At least one of the vehicles reported sold on the block, the Local Motors Rally Fighter consigned by Ray Evernham, subsequently showed up in RK Motors inventory. It’s probably not alone.
The overall results were disappointing, even taking into account the disruption of the Abu Dhabi simulcast.
RK Motors didn’t stint on the presentation, but they missed the execution and the networking that’s needed to gather the bidders, showing that it really isn’t easy to conduct a high quality collector car auction no matter how much money you throw at it.
RK Motors Classic Car Auction is booked back into the Charlotte Convention Center in the spring of 2014. Their presentation will be interesting to see, if it materializes.