I wasn’t looking for a Model A, or a baby blue Thunderbird with white leather interior or a pristine 1967 Mustang. But there they were. in all their automotive glory.
I wasn’t in the market for a bargain. Or a treasure. But I couldn’t help but lust after these mechanical marvels.
I might have been a spectator but I wasn’t alone. This event — now in its 40th year — draws car lovers twice a year, April and October. The next is April 22-26. Two more are held in Zephyrhills, Florida, in November and February.
I came for the auction and watched as people bid up to $40,000 on a vintage automobile at the Carlisle Expo Center. And these weren’t the beauties lined up around the perimeter of the hall. Oh yeah, they were nice, but if I had brought my wheelbarrow full of money, I was going to wait for those spotlighted vehicles. These were the classic cars that looked like they’d never left the showroom. Shiny, not a dent or scratch. These, I heard, were the cars that would attract the really big bucks. $100,000 or more for some of them. And oh were they beautiful. Lots of chrome. Soft leather (it looked like it; I wasn’t touching.) Sleek fenders and sculptural taillights.
I swooned even though I usually tend to think of a car as something merely utilitarian. So this wasn’t like me. But these were so bright and shiny, kind of like gigantic jewelry.
The auctions go fast. The auctioneer was rattling off numbers, 10 grand, 10 grand, 10 grand. 10-5, 10-5. Can I get 10-5? He spoke so fast I think that’s what he was saying. A screen above the cars kept the audience up to date on the bidding. Meanwhile, the car everybody was bidding on was rolled off the stage and the next one was rolled on. I realized quickly you have to pay attention.
I took a break to go out into the parking lot — filled with more automotive beauties. And there I found the one I wanted to take home. It came with a rumble seat. And brilliant yellow wheels and white wall tires that looked gorgeous with the deep ocean blue paint job and beige rag top.
I left it — and all the others — behind, alas. I need my cars to have warranties and service contracts, AAA memberships and dealers close by. I need people to take care of my car so I left that beauty for someone who will love it as it should be loved.
Here are a few others that caught my eye.
© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman