Numquam tanto minus – Never has so little cost so much
RM Auctions, Bruce Weiner Microcar Collection, Madison, Georgia, February 15-16, 2013
Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor
Hands down, this was the best, most enjoyable, cheerful, enthusiastic auction in memory.
It’s right up there with Christie’s sale of the A.K. ‘Nutzy Stutzy’ Miller auction in 1996.
Most collector car auctions, and particularly single owner collection auctions, are serious affairs, gathering like-minded collectors from everywhere bent on serious deal-making, parceling out the gems from the collection among colleagues.
RM’s Weiner Collection was nothing like that. Faced with twenty-three Messerschmitts, the Peels, multiple variants of Isettas and Heinkels, Gabriel Voisin-designed Biscooters and Biscuters and literally dozens of diminutive vehicles built by imaginative entrepreneurs known well only by cognoscenti, seriousness was not an option.
Weiner aided his cause by decorating his Goggomobil Transporters in Coca-Cola, Dubble Bubble and Pez livery, and handing out copious amounts of related sugar confections as well as Hot Wheels models of the ‘Whatta Drag’ Isetta. There were racks of brightly colored reading glasses: the cars were small and older collectors might have needed them to get up close and see clearly.
The theme was ‘fun’ and it was abetted by Bruce Weiner and by RM Auctions’ presentation.
The array of diminutive vehicles, many with just three wheels (the alternate subtitle was tot vehiculis, tam pauci rotarum, ‘so many cars, so few wheels’) was an education in the variety of little cars. RM’s catalog, measuring 5×5 inches and 2 inches thick, was a masterpiece in concept and execution. It will be referenced for years for its encyclopedic presentation of the microcar era after World War II.
It is risky to characterize any car collection as ‘definitive’ but if any is, it was Bruce Weiner’s collection of micro cars. Of vastly divergent quality – in both design and condition – they spanned an equally vast range of individual, idiosyncratic concepts. From basically utilitarian like the French Mochets and Gabriel Voisin’s elemental Biscoo[u]ters to anthropomorphic evolutions like the Fuldamobils and Fuji to the fantastic Sixties Peel P50 and Trident, right out of swingin’ London, everything in the collection – except maybe the TR6, 914 and 240Z – was exciting, different and cute.
‘Cute’ may be the defining characteristic of RM’s Bruce Weiner Collection auction. ’Cute’ was everywhere. Even the auction reporter slipped into the Peel P50 [displayed in the auction’s vestibule with a looping video of a drag race between it and an Shelby GT350 of the same vintage – the Shelby’s driver visibly aged waiting for the Peel to reach the finish line.]
Some auctions are memorable for the quality of their cars and the magnificent prices they attain. Others present huge and diverse consignments. A sparse few others are distinguished by the imagination, determination, selectivity and whimsy of their collectors and the sympathy of the auction company to the intent of the collector.
RM Auctions’ Bruce Weiner Microcar Collection auction was the latter. It was a privilege to be even a peripheral part of it and to witness the joy of the successful bidders.
Fortunately they were little cars with few accessories or options and well-researched descriptions, so it was possible to write up a lot of them. Don’t expect them to ratchet up benchmarks for microcar prices. These were once-in-a-lifetime prices, eagerly contested and followed by everyone interested in microcars. Taking home a trophy from Bruce Weiner’s unparalleled collection carried a premium in and of itself that won’t be equaled if the individual vehicles come back to market any time soon. Numquan tanto minus is not about to be repeated.
But it was fun, and a nearly unparalleled education.
RM Auctions Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum – Auction Report