Sometimes I think the best auctions are the ones where I can’t afford to even bid.
Which is why I will enjoy the Richard Muehlmann Fall Classic Car Auction Friday night at Schumacher Auction Service in Belleville.
Dave Schumacher will auction off an impressive array of old La Salles, Packards and other classic cars that Muehlmann accumulated through many years.
Muehlmann was a 40-year veteran musician with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and an avid collector of old cars. But no one was sure how many cars he had until Schumacher began sorting through a bunch of buildings to put together the auction. Everyone was surprised.
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“His daughters knew he had cars, you know how that is, but no one knew how many until we began bringing them out,” Schumacher said. “We’ve been working on this for a couple of months.”
The total was 25 old cars of various makes and styles and in various condition.
There are some that are just stunning, like the green 1930 LaSalle Series 345 All Weather Phaeton in beautiful condition, which could cost you the price of a pretty good new house.
There are convertibles, coupes, roadsters and even a car with a rumble seat.
There also are some unfinished projects that would only attract the eye of a car enthusiast interested in a complete restoral, like the 1939 LaSalle Hearse which is a hulk with some of the pieces inside the vehicle.
There also are a 1956 Packard Patrician Sedan and a pink 1955 Packard 400 which are either in running condition or can easily be restored to that state but which need bodywork. In fact, a mechanic was working on the engines last week.
Schumacher said he has had other people looking at some of the cars with the intention of turning them into custom street rods.
Sorting out all the various parts and cars was a chore.
“I think we have everything where it goes,” he said. “But matching parts with cars took some work.”
There were so many extra parts that there will be a separate auction on Saturday to sell them.
The auctions have drawn a lot of attention, with collectors from across the country and even from across the sea taking note.
“We’ve had phone calls from Germany and England and all across the country,” he said.
The cars will go up for auction starting at 7 p.m., Friday at the auction house at 1436 E. Main St. Belleville. The cars will be available for viewing starting at 4 p.m. with a reception for interested buyers.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, all the spare parts will go to auction.
Last week Schumacher showed off some of the cars being kept indoors, walking with a cloth in hand to whisk off any accumulated dust from the paint jobs on the immaculate cars. He pointed out a gorgeous 1925 Packard limousine.
“If you were driving one of these you were in tall cotton,” he said. “Actually you would have had a driver.”
The driver was separated from any passengers by a glass partition with a microphone in the back seat for communication.
LaSalles were manufactured by the General Motors Cadillac Division from 1927 to 1940. Packard was a separate company and produced cars from 1899 to 1958. It considered itself a Cadillac competitor.
You can view the cars at schumacherauctions.com.