Collectibles

Auction report: Searching for gold amongst metallic mayhem

Auction report: Searching for ...
Despite a judge originally ordering the contents of the farm scrapped, the extraordinary auction in Missouri last month netted $850,000
Despite a judge originally ordering the contents of the farm scrapped, the extraordinary auction in Missouri last month netted $850,000
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Bidders were able to acquire rarely seen accessories for early American headlights such as this carbide lamp by Excel
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Bidders were able to acquire rarely seen accessories for early American headlights such as this carbide lamp by Excel
This was one of many Bultacos that Jerry had acquired
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This was one of many Bultacos that Jerry had acquired
A BSA unit construction A-65 had been fitted with high pipes. Spitfire wanna be?
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A BSA unit construction A-65 had been fitted with high pipes. Spitfire wanna be?
Pre-unit Triumphs like this one have become very popular among builders for a period bike
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Pre-unit Triumphs like this one have become very popular among builders for a period bike
Remarkably complete Matchless G3L was originally a military bike. Some of its olive drab paint was still showing through
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Remarkably complete Matchless G3L was originally a military bike. Some of its olive drab paint was still showing through
This early 305 Superhawk was bid up to $4400 on the hammer
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This early 305 Superhawk was bid up to $4400 on the hammer
Rarely seen 1958 Deutsch Bonnet was a low run fiberglass car
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Rarely seen 1958 Deutsch Bonnet was a low run fiberglass car
Rarely seen 1958 Deutsch Bonnet was a low run fiberglass car
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Rarely seen 1958 Deutsch Bonnet was a low run fiberglass car
The view from behind one shed shows a serene lake with an accumulation of bits in the fore front. One has to wonder, was there more in the pond?
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The view from behind one shed shows a serene lake with an accumulation of bits in the fore front. One has to wonder, was there more in the pond?
Viewers examine the trunk of the Porsche 912. The engine had been completely disassembled
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Viewers examine the trunk of the Porsche 912. The engine had been completely disassembled
Auctioneer Jerry Wood goes over the ground rules for the sale
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Auctioneer Jerry Wood goes over the ground rules for the sale
As the auction proceeded, sold lots were covered with plastic by employees
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As the auction proceeded, sold lots were covered with plastic by employees
Numerous "unknown" wheels
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Numerous "unknown" wheels
Pre-view was active for two days
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Pre-view was active for two days
Military Stores rebuilt Triumph engine with crate was hammered down for $5000 plus buyer's 10% premium
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Military Stores rebuilt Triumph engine with crate was hammered down for $5000 plus buyer's 10% premium
Early flyers showed "compact" storage
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Early flyers showed "compact" storage
Tanks were auctioned off in lots of twenty
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Tanks were auctioned off in lots of twenty
The remains of a Vincent Comet left all wondering where the rest was?
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The remains of a Vincent Comet left all wondering where the rest was?
This pre-war Austin attracted a lot of bidding, despite the fact that it that the hinges were rusted shut
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This pre-war Austin attracted a lot of bidding, despite the fact that it that the hinges were rusted shut
Unknown early single engine
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Unknown early single engine
Crosley "Hot Shot" had deteriorated badly
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Crosley "Hot Shot" had deteriorated badly
Rebuild notes from military stores on one of the engines in a crate
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Rebuild notes from military stores on one of the engines in a crate
This Norton military engine in a crate was sold for $5,000 + 10% Buyer's premium
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This Norton military engine in a crate was sold for $5,000 + 10% Buyer's premium
Early HD JD fenders in excellent condition
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Early HD JD fenders in excellent condition
There was a sea of humanity during the sale
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There was a sea of humanity during the sale
Outboard motors were sold in lots of 10-14
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Outboard motors were sold in lots of 10-14
A French Panhard was among the automotive gems
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A French Panhard was among the automotive gems
The remains of many early bicycles were sold
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The remains of many early bicycles were sold
Another fire victim
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Another fire victim
This Royal Enfield survived the fire ... to become yard art
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This Royal Enfield survived the fire ... to become yard art
This Moto-Guzzi Astore "bitsa" (bit of this bike, a bit of that bike) sold for $30,000
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This Moto-Guzzi Astore "bitsa" (bit of this bike, a bit of that bike) sold for $30,000
This Moto-Guzzi Astore "bitsa" (bit of this bike, a bit of that bike) sold for $30,000
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This Moto-Guzzi Astore "bitsa" (bit of this bike, a bit of that bike) sold for $30,000
One Norton, well done
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One Norton, well done
This Norton Manx was another fire victim, but still sold for $18,500
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This Norton Manx was another fire victim, but still sold for $18,500
This Panther "sloper" - though not completely original - brought a record of $30,000
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This Panther "sloper" - though not completely original - brought a record of $30,000
This 1938 NSU was everyone's favorite. It sold for $30,000.
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This 1938 NSU was everyone's favorite. It sold for $30,000.
This 1938 NSU was everyone's favorite. It sold for $30,000.
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This 1938 NSU was everyone's favorite. It sold for $30,000.
The entrance to Jerry's property
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The entrance to Jerry's property
The compound
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The compound
Jerry's auction was not the place for the mechanically feint-of-heart
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Jerry's auction was not the place for the mechanically feint-of-heart
Opportunity for the right person
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Opportunity for the right person
A small sampling of the automobiles on offer
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A small sampling of the automobiles on offer
Sorted motorcycles prior to preview
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Sorted motorcycles prior to preview
As a final insult, this Manx fell over during the auction
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As a final insult, this Manx fell over during the auction
Motorcycles, by the pound
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Motorcycles, by the pound
Despite a judge originally ordering the contents of the farm scrapped, the extraordinary auction in Missouri last month netted $850,000
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Despite a judge originally ordering the contents of the farm scrapped, the extraordinary auction in Missouri last month netted $850,000
The windows were broken out of the cars to prevent people living in them
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The windows were broken out of the cars to prevent people living in them
An orphan car shared space with farm implements and even an old sled
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An orphan car shared space with farm implements and even an old sled
This 912 Porsche was in relatively good condition
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This 912 Porsche was in relatively good condition

An extraordinary auction took place last month in Cuba, Missouri. Five buildings full of old motorcycles, cars, outboard motors and antique advertising signage went under the hammer – all without reserve. There was so much stuff that much of it was gathered into job lots on pallets ... but there was gold to be found amongst this mass of metal and rust.

Jerry L. came back from the Vietnam War a changed man. Stress was common in his job as a demolition expert, and stress had taken its toll. One symptom of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a desire to move away from people and that was Jerry's first move when he got home, purchasing a large secluded plot of land in rural Missouri.

The entrance to Jerry's property
The entrance to Jerry's property

That's the entrance to the land above. Unless you were going there specifically, you'd never find it.

The compound
The compound

Then buildings went up, and cars and motorcycles were acquired.

Crosley "Hot Shot" had deteriorated badly
Crosley "Hot Shot" had deteriorated badly

Lots of cars and lots and lots of motorcycles.

Sorted motorcycles prior to preview
Sorted motorcycles prior to preview

Jerry soon began living as cheaply as possible, preferring to spend his money on more and more vehicle purchases. One picker who was actually able to buy bikes from him years ago reported that "he had a drop cord with one bulb in it and a hotplate for cooking."

Ten years ago, he decided it was cheaper to live with no utilities at all: no electricity and no sewer. He began living on raw hot dogs and carbonated drinks. If he went out to eat with people, he would drink water and then eat the scraps off their plates at the end of the meal.

The vehicles were always cheap. He knew his bikes because he'd been a Triumph dealer before the war, and he could often be seen lowballing at the end of swap meets buying motorcycles, automobiles, bicycles, outboard motors, signs, license plates, and oil cans.

Outboard motors were sold in lots of 10-14
Outboard motors were sold in lots of 10-14

It was often more appealing for people who'd hauled their old gear to a swap meet to take a few dollars and be rid of it than load it back into the truck and do it all over again. So Jerry accumulated a lot of stuff.

All the available space was utilized to house the growing collection, moreso when Jerry began disassembling the bikes. Curiosity? Anti-theft measures? Who knows? Maybe it was designed to enable him to get more into each space. When he ran out of space, another building was erected and filled, a pattern that went on for years.

As a final insult, this Manx fell over during the auction
As a final insult, this Manx fell over during the auction

Jerry then became upset that spaces were being utilized by people he hadn't authorized. He felt that people “were living in the walls.” One shed seemed particularly infested so he burned it down. There were a couple of Porsches in there, and a Norton Manx.

The windows were broken out of the cars to prevent people living in them
The windows were broken out of the cars to prevent people living in them

To ensure these imagined people did not live in the cars he had acquired, he broke out the windows.

Sadly, as his mental state deteriorated, authorities had to move in and Jerry was hospitalized.

Auction firm J. Wood and Company was called in to liquidate his assets.

Early flyers showed "compact" storage
Early flyers showed "compact" storage

“We got it all out and weren’t sure if we were doing the right thing,” said Jerry Wood of J. Wood and Company.

"It looked better crammed in the buildings! It took about three weeks to move it to a warehouse and that left us a week to sort it out."

Motorcycles, by the pound
Motorcycles, by the pound

When auction time arrived there were still items on pallets left unsorted and occasionally bidding on a particular pallet would sky rocket when someone noticed a buried Goldstar engine or HD KR wheels.

Here are some of the highlights:

This Moto-Guzzi Astore "bitsa" (bit of this bike, a bit of that bike) sold for $30,000
This Moto-Guzzi Astore "bitsa" (bit of this bike, a bit of that bike) sold for $30,000

A “bitza” Moto- Guzzi Astore sold for $30,000.

This Norton Manx was another fire victim, but still sold for $18,500
This Norton Manx was another fire victim, but still sold for $18,500

The fire-damaged Norton Manx with the wrong frame and forks was hammered down for $18,000. On day two, the frame was found in the weeds at the farm. It sold for $3,000.

This Panther "sloper" - though not completely original - brought a record of $30,000
This Panther "sloper" - though not completely original - brought a record of $30,000

A mismatched Panther fetched $30,000

This 1938 NSU was everyone's favorite. It sold for $30,000.
This 1938 NSU was everyone's favorite. It sold for $30,000.

An NSU 601 attracted a lot of attention. Everyone wanted it; one guy won it for $30,000 plus 10 percent buyer’s premium.

When the dust (or rust) settled, the sale netted $850,000. Not a bad result, considering that the judge who had been presiding over the case had originally ordered the contents of the farm scrapped!

He just didn't see the gold in there.

There were no shortage of buyers who did, however. I feel certain that many of Jerry's dreams will be fully realized by those who attended the auction and trailered away projects, basket cases and just enough to be able to reconstruct the original.

7 comments
boomer
Judges being impartial quite often ruin a good thing.This judge must not have an ounce of automotive blood in him.I'm just glad there was an auction...
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The bus from Rolla to KC stopped at Cuba!
GeoffG
I agree - what an absurd decision to make by an ill-informed judge. But sense prevailed. I find this judge guilty of attempted motricide.
bergamot69
Poor, poor man. A desperately sad story. Still, I hope that as many cars and bikes go to good homes- but still, it seems a bit like state-authorised robbery to sell them whilst the owner is presumably alive- even though he'd destroyed some of them himself due to his mental health conditions. I hope the man can find some peace in his final years- but given his history, I doubt whether he would welcome his effective incarceration, even if he has most likely become a danger to himself.
Mark Salamon
$18,500 for the charred remains of a derelict motorcycle? It strikes me that some of the folks bidding at this auction were the sort of people who have "more money than sense"...
REScott
So what happens if he gets put on the a medication that for lack of a better description "lifts the fog" for him and he realizes his property is no longer available to him?
ponitora
Paying $18K for an extremely rare and collectible "burned up motorcycle" makes plenty of sense, the Manx engine alone is worth more than that. What makes little sense is how the Federal Reserve printed up $85 billion in QE every month for six years to balance the books of highly criminalized Fed dealer banks (look it up). That's infinitely worse than what the judge decided in this case. When "money" is free at 0% folks are going to look for investments that pay something more than the 0% they get from the too big to jail banks for their savings. Likewise there is no point in holding federal reserve notes worth less tomorrow than they were worth yesterday, so of course those eventually worthless $$ will be spent in exchange for collectibles that increase in value over time.... whereas the Fed just prints more dollars to burn by those privileged enough to have access to them. Sorry I know that's a lot more than the average joe can digest. Suggest looking at Mike Maloney - Bill Still - and Peter Schiff to get started, or Jim Rickards.