Salvage yard shut since 1953 finally sells its secrets
The difference between a treasure trove and a scrap yard may be just good marketing. How else to explain the interest generated by a Oklahoma man who closed his junkyard over a zoning dispute in 1953 and protected it like the Fort Knox of rust until his death? Later this summer, his cache of some 250 cars from the first half of the 20th century will finally go to auction, and within all that broken-down metal are a few rarities.
It’s not uncommon for rare vehicles to surface in a barn or rundown garage, encrusted in decades of dust, itching to be sold for a handsome profit. What is rare, however, is to find a one-owner, 1969 Shelby Mustang GT500 — one of only about 1,000 ever made — resurface in its original condition, fastidiously maintained and never washed for fear of damaging the paint, with only 8,500 miles on the clock.
Larry Brown, a resident of Centre Hall, Pa., passed away on his birthday during the latter part of last year, leaving behind a trove of fascinating items. With no wife or children to inherit his estate, the entire collection — his house, TVs, snow blowers, motorbikes and of course cars — are heading to auction, with the Mustang the star attraction.
Brown purchased the car on May 9, 1969, for $5,245.97. The last recorded warranty work occurred in September that year, when Brown had the door glass adjusted. At that time, the registered mileage was 1,665. By 1973, Brown had stopped driving the car altogether, storing it in his garage with just 8,531 miles on the clock.
According to the auction listing at Ron Gilligan Auctioneers, the GT500, that features a 428 Cobra Jet engine meshed to a 4-speed transmission, still maintains its original paint, tires, belts, hoses, factory steering wheel cover and 1968-dated coded spark plug wires. Vehicles with more miles, in far less original condition, have sold for over $100,000 — offering clues as to how much Brown’s GT500 may fetch when it goes under the hammer on April 25.
The three biggest factors affecting collectible toys value are rarity, condition, and the presence of original packaging. This 1962 Imperial model from Asahi combine all three of them into a rare item, as well as a “very good” condition appraisal. Because of that it sold for a price of $17,500, including buyer’s fees, earlier this week.
Other collectibles cracking the auction’s top five included a 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II two-door sedan from toymaker Marusan, complete with its original (but misprinted with a 1958 Lincoln) box, which sold for $7,500; a 1956 Ford Fairlane sedan from Marusan, missing its windshield but complete with well-worn original packaging, which sold for $6,875; a 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer concept model from Mitsuhashi, minus its box and showing average wear for its age, which sold for $6,000; and a 1950s Jet Rocket V-7 lithographed tin toy from Kokyu, missing its packaging and its rear stabilizers, which sold for $5,000.
For complete results from the Yoku Tanaka Toy Collection sale, visit Bonhams.com.
1949 Studebaker pickup truck
The engine is a 169.6-cubic-inch Champion L-head six, generating 80 horsepower. When coupled with the standard three-speed transmission and 4.82 rear, it could deliver in excess of 22 mpg at a 40-mph average. Seen on Reddington Road in Tucson, AZ