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Last updated: Sun. Aug. 31, 2014 - 04:56 pm EDT

Living with car-buying fever

Millions change hands during ACD Festival auction

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By the numbers

The unofficial five highest prices paid for autos from Auctions America’s sales on Saturday were: $1,265,000

1935 Duesenberg Model SJ dual-cowl phaeton $330,000

2005 Ford GT $308,000

1934 Packard Twelve $231,000

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz $198,000

1962 Porsche 356B super cabriolet

AUBURN — Joe Favazzo just wanted to look, not buy. But ... you know how it is.

The classic car enthusiast wasn’t inside the Auctions America building for more than five minutes on Friday when he’d flashed his Bidder No. 7791 card and bought a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

“I have my wife convinced I can fix it up and sell it for a profit,” he said Saturday during a quick breather after winning a spirited contest that ended in his buying a 1959 Olds 98 convertible for $47,000.

Luckily, Favazzo secured a $100,000 letter of credit from his bank before coming to the Labor Day weekend auction for only the second time, and his first time as a bidder. The Columbus, Ohio, man confessed he also had his eye on a third vehicle – a 1960 Buick Electra convertible.

“We have a passion for cars,” Favazzo said of himself and his wife, Ginny, who was the driving force behind the bid for the golden Oldsmobile. “We have way too many.”

How many? Close to 30.

Tens – sometimes hundreds – of thousands of dollars change hands with the wave of a finger during the annual auction, which is held in conjunction with the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival in Auburn. Saturday’s biggest-ticket item was a1935 Duesenberg Model SJ dual-cowl phaeton that sold for more than $1.2 million.

About 1,200 collector cars will be auctioned during the event, which attracted more than 35,000 visitors on Thursday and Friday. The organizers expect total paid attendance to be between 80,000 and 100,000 – topping last year’s total of 70,000.

Although the car show attracts fans of all ages, most visitors are middle-aged or older. The Favazzos have two sons, ages 25 and 28, who didn’t make the trip but share their excitement for classic cars.

“My younger son has the fever as bad as I have – maybe worse,” Joe Favazzo said.

But his experience has a deeper, emotional element that likely eludes younger collectors. His two uncles owned gas stations, where he worked, surrounded by 1959 Oldsmobiles and 1960 Buicks. Seeing the vehicles now reminds him of his childhood.

These days Favazzo, who works in the medical devices equipment industry, doesn’t get greasy with his acquisitions. Although he will clean them up a bit. “We’ve done the rebuilding before, but it’s painful,” he admitted.

Not everyone sitting on the metal bleachers and padded chairs in the auction arena Saturday was bidding.

Gary Thompson was there for the sights of shiny sedans and convertibles dating to the early 1900s and the sounds of the rapid-fire auctioneers’ calls.

The Quincy, Michigan, retiree has never bought or sold a car in Auburn, but he has owned a 1968 Corvette and an ’82 model.

“It’s tradition, Labor Day (weekend), come to the car show,” he said. “My wife told me, ‘Don’t be coming home with any cars.’ ”

Thompson, a former trucking company supervisor, said some of the final sales prices seemed like good deals.

Crystal Spencer was helping her boyfriend look for good deals on memorabilia. They live near Indianapolis.

“I love looking at the different cars and signs from old gas stations that don’t exist anymore,” she said while standing in a vendor area behind the auction arena.

Their shopping list included Texaco-brand signs, maybe an antique gas pump and a car or two, Spencer said.

Her boyfriend, Gary McLemore, who owns New Truck Alternative in Delphi, buys and sells high-end, pre-owned vehicles. He drove a truck to Saturday’s auction and swap meet in case he found anything he couldn’t resist.

“You always come prepared,” McLemore said.

Favazzo could second that.

The auto auction concludes today. Scheduled highlights include a 1964 Chevrolet Impala convertible being offered for sale by Jerry Rathburn, founder of Rathburn Tool & Manufacturing in Auburn.

The Vietnam veteran is donating all proceeds from the sale to Honor Flight of northeast Indiana, a nonprofit organization that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials built in their honor.


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