Results Of The RM Hershey Auction – Would You Buy A Classic Boat At A Collector Car Auction?


Runaway Jane  - Photo Courtesy RM Auctions

Runaway Jane – Photo courtesy RM Auctions

Earlier this week we ran a story on the 2014 RM Hershey, Pennsylvania Auction which included two significant Chris-Craft wooden speedboats to be offered among the 160 collector cars and automobilia related items, scheduled to cross the block on Thursday & Friday. (If you missed it, you can see that story, along with the detailed descriptions of the boats by Clicking Here)

We now have the results of the auction with a few “screenshot” photos from the RM Auctions Live Stream. The two Chris-Craft boats were presented for auction by our friends from Antique Boat Center and Freedom Boat Service, and we would like to take this opportunity to tip our Woody Boater caps to them and their clients for making the effort to offer these beautiful boats at one of the nations premier collector car events, presented by RM Auctions.

Creating a presence like this goes a long way to help promote the hobby by getting these boats in front of hundreds of people who may not be currently aware of, or be involved in the classic boating hobby. The RM Hershey Auction was also featured on Fox Business Channel. Nice work everyone!

Antique Boat Center presented Lot 264 – a 1941 Chris-Craft 27′ Model 115 Custom “Runaway Jane” – Auction estimate: $225,000 – $275,000
Hull no. 27061 – 300 bhp, 502 cu. in. Mercury Mercruiser V-8 engine. Length: 27 ft.

From the live streaming, the bidding for “Runaway Jane” was brisk and deliberate, starting at around 100,000.00 and immediately climbed in 10K increments to over 200K, finally reaching 235,000.00 (plus auction fees) when the hammer fell.

RM Hershey Screenshot - 2
Dave Bortner from Freedom Boat Service was at Hershey again this year with Lot 150 – a 1930 Chris-Craft 26′ Model 111 Runabout “Muse” – Auction estimate: $220,000 – $260,000
Hull no. 10072 – 250 bhp, 824 cu. in. Chris-Craft A-120 V-8 engine. Length: 26 ft.

“Muse” crossed the block on Thursday evening with a number of bidders involved, and the bidding quickly made it up to 190,000.00 – but didn’t appear to make reserve, so no sale. However we did hear from Dave Bortner on Friday and he was hoping to advance the sale over the weekend.

RM Hershey Screenshot 1
The annual Hershey auction is definitely unique and different than other collector car auctions for a number of reasons, including the geographical location and history of the event, and also because it runs in conjunction with the huge, week-long AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Eastern Fall Meet. All this is reflected in the wide range of lots that are offered at RM Hershey.

Like this fully restored 1860 Abbott-Downing Stagecoach, with a pre-auction estimate of $225,000 – $325,000.

RM Hershey Screenshot - 7
The Michigan built stagecoach sold for 300,000.00.

RM Hershey Screenshot - 3
Over the last few years we have seen a number of wooden boats offered and sold at collector car auctions – in Florida, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and even in Monaco. Most of the successful auctions have been when the boats are offered in limited numbers, with a high sell rate.

So the question for our viewers today is;

Would you consider buying a classic boat at a collector car auction?

As always, we appreciate your opinion, so fire away!


23 replies
  1. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I think it is a great way to expose these boats to an audience that has the ability to buy them and may not even know they want them. I also think some Auction Fever may play a roll in the sale of some of these boats, as last years sale of Hornet indicates.
    All that being said these boats are way out of my league so don’t expect to see me waving a paddle at Hershey any time soon.

  2. matt
    matt says:

    One issue is the Auction house. The boats that have recently sold are from very good companies as well. Its all about trust.

  3. dfa;b
    dfa;b says:

    still not real money when you consider the restoration costs, this is nothing compared to a vintage Ferrari and these boats are held up in the ACBS judging circles as such. Even the price that Hornett garnered was pocket change compared to a Ferrari 250. Enjoy the boats but cars are still where it is at.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    I would have to say no. An auction bypasses the normal buy/sell process and replaces it with emotion and manipulation.

    If I wanted either of these boats and had the cash, I would much rather deal with ABC or FBS directly.

  5. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    Buyers preimum, sellers fees plus entrance fee to get in to the event. I have attented a few auctions over the years I have never left one regardless of how reputable the company is/was supposed to be feeling clean. Personally i have only bought at auctions where there was NOT a buyers fee. We all know the story of the Minnesota event, and that has happend again in other places in the car hobby. I think the TV auction has killed the goose that laid the golden egg and has severely damaged the collector car market for the hobbyist.

  6. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    From a seller’s point of view, I don’t think it is worth it…You have to pay the entry fee up front, then drag the boat to the auction, stay with it two or three days talking it up while it sits in the parking lot or storage area, not to mention hotel and resturant expenses for over night stay, and then bring it home if it doesn’t sell. I’d rather jst advertise it and sell it to an interested buyer and let him come get it.

  7. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I’ve been to Hershey. Quit going because it is too big. I have clients that come in from Sweden, Norway, Switzerland planning to buy. They arrange a shipping container in advance. Shop till it is full.
    The RM event exposes their entries to people worldwide who come there to buy.

  8. Mike Green
    Mike Green says:

    I think it’s good for the hobby and hopefully it ill be a plus for the value of boats.

    I think that we have become a little more educated on how auctions work now from watching RM, Mecum and others, at least I have. You have to know going in how it has worked for a long time in the car auctions, there may not be “real bids” and they do that to get things moving and for the auction to keep the excitement. In Minnesota very few people knew of that practice and then when it happened it was a huge deal. I have watched Wayne Carini from Chasing Classic Cars ask many times “is that a real bid” when it gets close to the reserve so you know it happens all the time. I feel the boats that sold at RM reflects the true value that people are willing to pay and what the boats are worth.

    • Brian Robinson
      Brian Robinson says:

      I echo Mike Green’s comment. If nothing else the worldwide collector exposure is good for the hobby.

      I think that is a solid price for Runaway Jane with modern power. I’m almost certain that boat should have cup vents though, not bear claws… Doug?!

  9. Matt
    Matt says:

    Hi Brian, in 1941 it was a transition year for vents. The coast guard rule took place mid year with a need for more vents and larger. That’s when the cup vents became part of the build. I would bet that the date of this was before. As you recall Sylvia had 2 bear claws from the factory, then when it was sold the dealer installed to more bear claws. The hull number was 1 off the transition time. And now you have the rest of the story…ish

    • Brian Robinson
      Brian Robinson says:

      Matt, you are referring to the coast guard change of 1/6/41. This boat was shipped 5/9/41 which is also why it has vents on the aft deck, prior to 1/6/41 the 27s did not. It should have cup vents IMHO. The one 27 built prior to this one also had cup vents, as did 27056 which was held over from 1940 production and also sold in May 1941.

  10. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The car hobby has basically accepted fraud as part of the price to pay to play. I am not sure the wooden boat hobby has anything to gain by going down that path and inviting unscrupulous auction tricks to become an accepted norm for us as well. Fake bidders in a no-reserve auction or anywhere above the reserve should be an absolute no no.

    I also question the quality of the exposure. Are the auctions reaching people who will care for and USE the boats, or people who will store them for years in a building full of cars not realizing they will decay while in storage?

  11. Steve Moreau
    Steve Moreau says:

    Good answers and comments on both sides. For me no I wouldn’t, even if I have bottomless pockets. U see I’m a tinker, and a little OCD. No matter what it is I have the need to take it apart and put it back together. There’s just a need I have to take something that need a little love and tenderness and make it right. And after completing the project watching it perform is worth the sweat and money. So if I had a boat like Runaway Jane that I didn’t restore it wouldn’t make me happy. But then there’s always something to do on a boat, maybe that’s why I love them so!

    Just my thoughts Steve

  12. Stephanie G.
    Stephanie G. says:

    I passed Runaway Jane (surely en route to her new owner) on the PA Turnpike near Cranberry Township today. I know nothing about boats, but the beauty of this vessel compelled me to Google it. It’s simply striking, even from a distance! I’ve got a new respect for the craftsmanship of these wooden boats. Beautiful!

  13. dfa;b
    dfa;b says:

    does the clayton boat auction really do anything for wood boats;anyone one in the know shudders when they watch the boats go unreserved; and the bidding on the reserved boats is so low is it worth the gas to tow the boat to the show. The boat auction in Gravenhurst was a like attending a funeral. I have failed to see any wooden boat transactions in the past 5 years that have exceeded the restoration costs of the boats. I enjoy your boat and perhaps the admiration of those who smile and say what a lovely boat, but when it comes to dollars these boats make no investment sense…like a car can

  14. Coop
    Coop says:

    For those not familiar with the auction company process, the listed hammer price of $235,000 is not the actual selling price… with the buyers premium of 10% the actual selling price is $258,500 as listed on RM’s auction results page. Also, the seller has a sellers premium that must be paid to the auction company, which is about 8-10%. I don’t understand why people keep saying “offered by” the 2 brokerage companies, when actually it was the owners who were offering them. The brokerage companies had them for sale for some time and couldn’t sell them, the owners chose to offer them at auction. These brokerage companies were probably paid to transport them to auction.

  15. Texx
    Texx says:

    That’s exactly why we noted that the selling price (as shown on the screen shot at hammer time) was 235,000.00 (plus auction fees). The details of the final buyers premium and sellers premium was unknown at the time, and I will not speculate on the details of the related auction fees, or brokerage fees.

    The brokers are representing the sellers, who are offering the boat for sale. The brokers assist in the presentation of the boats during the three days of the auction (Wednesday viewing, Thursday / Friday auction days). – Texx

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