Entrance to the Maine town of Owl's Head (or Owls Head), site of the annual Owls Head Transportation Museum auction. (Selling prices for all cars include a 10 percent buyer's premium. About one third of the 160 cars on the auction results list were described as "passed," which means they may not have sold on the auction block, but could have been sold in a private transaction later on. Or they simply might not have sold.
(All photos by Michael Taylor.)
Museum exhibit: 1904 steam-powered pump engine with a 1918 American LaFrance tractor.
Museum exhibit: replica of the 1903 Kitty Hawk flyer. (The original is in the National Air and Space Museum.)
1939 Ford Deluxe convertible. Passed.
1920 Maxwell 25 Town Car. $23,100.
1923 H.C.S. S4-6 Touring. $67,100.
1926 Ford T Speedster. $7,975.
1952 Chrysler Windsor convertible. $29,150.
1951 Cadillac Series 62 sedan. Passed.
1964 Ford Thunderbird convertible. $12,650.
1973 Cadillac Eldorado convertible. $6,875.
1954 Chevrolet Corvette. $75,900.
Front to rear: 1958 Jaguar XK150 ($56,100) and 1967 Chevrolet Corvette ($74,250.)
1914 Model T Express truck. (This car, made of spare and donated parts, was a collaborative project of the museum and students at the Mid-Coast School of Technology in nearby Rockland, Me. Proceeds from the sale -- the car went for $15,950 -- will help fund future projects.)
1950 Buick Super Estate wagon. Passed.
1948 Chrysler Town & Country convertible. $129,800. (Highest price car of the auction.)
Inside the Town & Country convertible.
Front to rear: 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe (passed); and 1951 Mercury station wagon ($66,000).
Gazebo near the auction tent, with seats for spectators.
1987 Ferrari Mondial. $27,500.
1972 Fiat 500F wagon. $9,350.
1989 Chevrolet Corvette. Passed.
1966 Chevrolet C10 pickup. $11,000.
1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 convertible. Passed.
1953 Dodge Series B pickup. $8,800.
1955 Dodge Series B pickup. Passed.
1948 Chevrolet Thriftmaster pickup. $17,050.
1960 BMW R26 motorcycle. $11,000.
The bidders wait to see what's coming next.
A tent outside the main auction building, for spectators.
David Gushee of South Portland, Me. After the auction, he said he had been interested in the 1959 Ford Thunderbird and the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner up for sale. In the end, however, he decided not to buy anything at the day's auction.
Spectators studying the day's offerings.
A bidder at the Owls Head auction.
Watching the line of cars heading for the auction block.
It wasn't in the auction Saturday, but looked nice anyway, sitting off in a field near the museum entrance.
Volkswagens wait to be auctioned off. A 1979 convertible sold for $11,000.
This 1993 Cadillac Allante convertible sold for $11,000.
A 1983 Avanti II. It sold for $7,700.
1922 Ford Model T Touring. $24,750.
1932 Ford BB one-and-a-half ton truck. $6,050.
1946 Chevrolet 3100 Stake Body pickup. $13,200.
1929 Ford A roadster pickup. Passed.
1929 Ford A roadster pickup. $23,100.
1923 H.C.S. S4-6 Touring (seen in better light than the earlier photo). $67,100.
1930 Franklin S147 Series speedster. $46,750.
1927 Pierce-Arrow 80. Passed.
1911 Maxwell AB roadster. $22,000.
A Mercedes-Benz 300SL from the mid-fifties. It was not for sale, but did attract attention.
A Packard convertible of undetermined vintage (1950?), parked outside the museum entrance.
Lincoln parked in the museum parking lot.
The Owls Head Transportation Museum’s annual auction took place a few days ago and the beauty of it is that most of the cars sold were the kind of cars you might find lurking in a barn (if you were lucky) or even on one of a dozen or so websites. The main point was these are actually cars most of us could afford, unlike, say, the multi-million-dollar Ferraris that crossed the block at the Monterey Peninsula auctions last weekend.
Owls Head is a town of about 1,600 people on the coast of Maine, where rusticators from New York and Philadelphia’s tonier areas built or bought big summer houses decades ago and then bought some planes, boats or old cars for activities with which to fill those summer days. One of them was Thomas J. Watson Jr. (1914-1993), the man Time magazine once dubbed “the greatest capitalist in history.” Watson was the second president of IBM and, at one point, served as U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. He had a summer house on the island of North Haven, not far from Owls Head, and in 1974 he financed construction of a museum adjacent to what is now the Knox County Regional Airport.
All this by way of introducing an annual auction that has become a fixture for New England car buffs. On Saturday morning, nearly 1,300 spectators roamed the grounds as private jets occasionally took off from an airstrip only a couple of hundred yards away. Aficionados of old iron stopped by and gazed at half a dozen Ford Model T cars; over there was a row of pickup trucks, some more than half a century old. And so it went, until the last car, a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser, was hammered down at $4,620.
In between, there were the highest priced car at the auction (a 1948 Chrysler Town and Country convertible, at $129,800) and the lowest priced (a 1986 Lincoln Town Car, at $1,210.)
The lone Ferrari in sight, a 1987 Mondial ragtop, went for $27,500.
(An editorial aside: at the entrance to Owls Head is a welcome sign that spells it “Owl’s Head,” not Owls Head. Note the addition of an apostrophe. Yet that appears to be the only place around that uses the apostrophe. The town officially spells it Owls Head on its website and the museum spells it Owls Head. Many years ago, sailors approaching nearby Rockland harbor thought the promontory of Owls Head looked something like the head of an owl. That would make it, to my mind, a possessive — i.e., Owl’s Head.
(There’s still some debate. Linda Post, one of the town’s three selectmen [similar to a town council] says “there’s always been a discussion about whether there should be an apostrophe. The old timers say yes. Anyone over 70 would tell you it belongs there. As far as I know, it would probably take an act of Congress to get it back.”)