Report by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
The Taste of Hershey
Aside from chocolate (chocolate, chocolate, everywhere) the appeal of Hershey is the search for the rare, obscure, intriguing piece to complete a car restoration puzzle.
Hershey denizens criss-cross the fields, pawing through piles of lights, fenders, distributors, cylinder heads, distributor points, frames, springs, axles and light bulbs seeking the pieces they need to complete their projects. They search, and they … in the lexicon of New England … ‘dicker’ for the best deal. Hershey attracts car collectors from around the world. There’s more Dutch, Australian, German, French and, increasingly, Eastern European overheard here than in Monterey.
The objective always is the Saturday AACA Meet where an award earned at ‘Hershey’ stands right up there with Pebble Beach. The standards are high, the competition intense, and the means to meet them are offered in the acres of the AACA Hershey swap meet, the Car Corral and at RM’s auction, which has swept its competitors from the board in recent years.
This year demonstrated why RM has achieved its dominance.
Of the 148 cars offered, 110 were without reserve and selling to the highest bidders. The estimates were low, encouraging the Hershey bargain-hunters. The cars were old: 67 were built before 1920, eleven before 1905 and therefore eligible for consideration to participate in the UK Veteran Car Club’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run – an endurance test that every car enthusiast should experience at least once in a lifetime.
It evidenced astute marketing, positioning and an understanding of the audience, something which RM has mastered in recent years.
67 cars in the sale were built before 1920. 25 of them sold for over their high estimates. More importantly, all of them sold, including the sale’s second highest transaction, the ex-Harrah’s 1903 Packard Model F Rear Entrance Tonneau which brought a princely $374,000 (and was worth every penny of the price, too.)
In fact, every car but one at RM’s Hershey auction sold on the block … and the one that didn’t (the Bergholt Streamline sedan) was closed later at $82,500, an effective hammer bid of $75,000 which topped the $67,500 it closed at on the block.
There are many conclusions to be drawn from RM Hershey, but none more important than the endorsement it made of the continuing appeal of very early cars, those creative, imaginative examples of early automobile entrepreneurs’ diverse visions of solving the problem of converting energy stored in hydrocarbon fuels and electro-chemical batteries into rotating motion that turned road wheels.
RM Hershey this year was a lavish, diverse, intriguing catalog of early marques and the development of the American automobile industry (follow the progress of the early Fords and Chevrolets.) I had great fun here, and I hope it comes through in the notes and comments.
Photos are courtesy of RM Auctions (the preview is in the dank parking structure next to the Hershey Lodge Convention Center where what little illumination there is comes from dimly orange sodium vapor lighting. Photography is impossible.) It is mostly copyright 2010 by Darin Schnabel and Stephen Goodall.