Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wheelin' and Dealin'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Wheelin' and Dealin'

Article excerpt

Back in the late 1980s, even after the oilpatch broke, it appeared as if the busiest brokers in town were those who handled classic and antique cars. Business managers and consultants often touted the benefits of investing in these utilitarian works of art. Minor fortunes were made, some lost, as these cars changed hands -- mostly through and around auctions. Then, in about 1993, the bottom started tilting and sales began to slow, both in volume and monetary value.

The tide appears to be shifting, changing again as investors see more than dollar signs -- these cars often are dragged from near- oblivion and lovingly restored by amateurs and professionals alike. Even professional restoration specialists tend to look upon the objects of their work with more than just affection. That trend was demonstrated locally during the 14th annual Kruse Oklahoma City Antique and Classic Car Auction and Show.

"This was a good year," said Rocky Santiago, owner of Santiago Sports and Classics, sponsor of last month's event. "Our sales and our volume both were up. So far this year, sales have been up at every auction I've been to, both volume and the money brought in." As an example, there were more than 400 cars to cross the auction block, with 196 of them sold for $1.6 million during the three-day sale. This up 63.4 percent from last year, Santiago said. "That's pretty neat." Beyond this, there were "undoubtedly a lot" of parking lot transactions where a car wouldn't sell through the auction, or didn't bring the seller's asking price, and were sold privately later. "We have no way of keeping up with these cars, but I know it happens," Santiago said. "In fact, one of the things I tell sellers and buyers is that this is the best classified advertising you can find." One group had some special cars, but were sold in the parking lot before the auction. "Everyone was asking me when those cars were coming through, but they had already been sold," Santiago said. Local benefits Although cars were entered from Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, the largest number of cars sold were owned by Oklahomans. This is an economic development event that attracts millions of dollars to the city, Santiago said, but he couldn't give specific numbers. "We had at least 362 bidders registered this year, people who stayed in Oklahoma City four or more nights," he said. "I don't know how many hotel rooms were booked for this event, but I had a lot of people call to say the host hotel (Embassy Suites) was booked and they needed a place to stay. I told them that along Meridian there was everything from low-cost to top of the line, so they could undoubtedly find a room easily. I also pointed out that restaurants in this area ranged from McDonald's to lobster." The reason there was no exact count of the registered bidders is that many are registered with Kruse International, the Indiana company which handles about 100 auctions nationwide annually, and are automatically allowed to bid in any auction that company heads. …

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