The Farmer That Fancied Ferruccio

Auctions are the agitator for collectible classic pricing. If you fetched a swingin’ auction deal you may thank your new advocate who either failed to stir the crowd by placing a low estimate on a loosely educated item. Or curse them for driving prices up doing exactly the opposite. There is the occasional wrongly placed Porsche, or insert your favorite foreign car here, slipped into RM’s Hershey show for a 20% hammer price discount. But more often than not, you watch your dream ride shoot passed you in a blaze of investment-funded speculation setting the bar for your next unobtainable sale price. Exactly why we figured the late William L. King Jr. estate sale would provide shanty for our nest egg dollars ready to hatch a quick profit. After all, who goes to an October farm auction in Hamilton, southern Ohio to find a Lamborghini Jalpa?

Mr. King Jr. had an estate and was of all things a collector. He was of fewer things organized. In speaking to several of the Penny Worley Auctioneer’s staff we learned that it took almost four months to sift through barns and out buildings of all his, err crap, to get the good stuff displayed for the event. When they first opened one rather large barn, they couldn’t see the floor. “There was barely enough room behind the door to step inside.” Upon making their way to the rear of the barn over piles of iron, presumably car parts, they worked up the other side back near the door they entered. “Hey! There’s a Corvette buried under here.” It was at that point we figured a 15% buyer’s premium seemed like fair money.

My cohort Roy suggested we attend this show. He sent me a link to the auction website knowing I have a soft spot for Honda CT70 trail bikes. The link took me straight to those listings. I poked around the site for a while and found Harley golf carts and other tractors of some interest. Typical farm auction I thought to myself but worth a little homework on the items. Turns out early 60’s Harley three-wheel-golf-carts with a steering wheel instead of a tiller are quite rare and all are gas powered two-cycle 250cc motors. AMF bought the manufacturing and name in 1969 at which time collectors started driving a different course. My Ram golf clubs are in the basement for a reason, and even if the links were in my future, I’d walk before taking a ride. The Harley would be a pass for me.

Returning to Penny Worley’s auction site I found it easy enough to explore more items and photos but never realized there was a Part 1 and Part 2. The collection was so large they broke it up. As it turns out, I was forwarded a link to Part 2 and to this day can’t maneuver between the two parts. Turns out Part 1 had the good stuff. So when Roy and I set out to the auction on Saturday morning he started talking about Indian motorcycles, Corvettes and the baby Lambo Jalpa. “They’ve got a what there? A Lamborghini? I didn’t see that. You bidding?” Roy gave me the let’s see look as he self-righteously yet subtlety drove home the pronunciation “halpa.” I didn’t argue even though the Lamborghini Registry lists it as “YAWL-pa” as in ya’ll comin’ over for grits. Not as in “hah” you’re funny like a clown. The rest of the day I deliberately dragged Haaalpa out longer and longer as if folks from Tel Aviv needed to hear the car was there. Unfortunately, I was probably the only one who found that funny.

The son-in-law of departed Mr. King. Jr. was walking around the show. We were wondering how his father-in-law came to amass such a collection that incidentally included furniture, tools, a bulldozer, campers, guns, toys, etc. Apparently, William would travel to different auctions in his camper with trailer-in-tow every weekend he could. At the end of the weekend, he would buy up what remained or save it from curbside pickup. If he found something of interest during the auctions such as Indian motorcycle parts, he would simply buy them. Those items believed to have real value he put inside the house for safekeeping. Consistent with great barnyard traditions three things are easily lost on a farm: virginities, cow stability and valuables stored in barns.

We watched the locals mull around the bright red over beige Lamborghini and wondered why people in Ohio speak with a southern accent. It made for entertaining banter as we swapped our observations. “It’s missing all the bolts that secure the air induction assembly covers over the Webers” I pointed out. “They say the car turns over but isn’t getting spark” was retorted. Roy and I concluded the auction company probably pulled the covers to squirt started fluid into the carbs then conveniently misplaced the bolts. A Lamborghini that hasn’t run in roughly 20 years, smells moldy inside and has orange peel on the deck lid from a repair job, as Roy astutely noted, should be a steal at this auction. Look around, who we would bid against? Question was, what’s it worth? Excellent condition Jalpas regularly trade in the high $30s to low $40s. We thought this one is worth $15-20K at best. It closed at $28,750 with buyer’s premium. In fact to our chagrin, almost everything there closed at what we called full retail pricing. If you can’t steal a Lamborghini in the middle of cows and corn where are you going to find one? I guess it’s back to scouring Craigslist and eBay.