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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Jeff Austgen steps out of the 1946 Mercury custom coupe he bought Saturday at the RM Auctions Auburn Fall Sale.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette A 1956 convertible Corvette sits under one of the many protective tents housing other classic or collectible cars Saturday afternoon at the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival.

  • A 2006 Ford GT is pushed onto the auction block Saturday at the RM Auctions Auburn Fall Sale. The car fetched more than $300,000.

  • A 1949 Chrysler Town and Country convertible sits on display Saturday afternoon in Auburn.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Freestyle Motocross riders show off their tricks as one of the many side shows at the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival Saturday afternoon.

  • Photos by Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Along with the bevy of classic cars, the annual auction features side shows, such as motocross riders doing aerial tricks for attendees.

Sunday, September 02, 2018 1:00 am

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival

Annual pilgrimage for gearheads

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Eric McCarty loves muscle cars.

“That's kind of our era,” the 55-year-old said Saturday as he looked over some of the pricier rides to hit the auction block at the RM Auctions Auburn Fall Sale. “I'm more of a muscle head.”

He has a 1973 Ford Mustang in his garage, and he's owned at least five others – including a 1968 Chevy Camaro, a car Motor Trend magazine highlighted as among “the most popular muscle/pony cars out there.” He bought a 1967 Plymouth GTX on Thursday at the auction, which draws thousands of visitors when it's held each year around Labor Day at Auburn Auction Park.

McCarty's been coming to the auction about five years, and he was eyeing a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 – price tag: about $250,000 – as several members of his family looked at some of the other cars up for sale.

“This year's been a family affair,” he said.

His is a familiar story.

Ask people passing through the gates or drooling over rare autos under tents and in the display arena where the rare Mustang was parked and many will tell you they come to the event every year. They bring family members to dream about owning a piece of automotive history or simply to bond.

Jeff Miller of South Bend was there Saturday with his son, Ryan. The two were looking over a red 2005 Ford GT valued at about $260,000.

“This is probably my 20th year,” Jeff Miller said. “We try to make it an annual thing. We're car enthusiasts (and) we can appreciate nicely built cars.”

He and his son weren't going to take the GT home with them, but the car with the powerful 550-horsepower V-8 engine represents something to work toward.

“(Our) dream goal would be to buy and sell muscle cars,” the father said.

The auction began Thursday and runs through today. Organizers said 750 cars were featured at this year's event.

“I've been here many years,” said Pat Gioffredo, who drove from Sandusky, Ohio. “You can see everything here.

Indeed. Expensive exotic cars such as a 2003 Ferrari 260 Spider were parked just yards from cheaper models including a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, which was expected to sell for at least $25,000.

Jeff Austgen couldn't resist the bright red 1946 Mercury custom coupe he discovered under one of the tents. He said early Saturday afternoon he would buy it.

“I didn't have any intention to buy it,” Austgen said. “It just kind of hit me.”

It will go nicely with the 1932 Chevy hot rod and the 1949 Ford pickup he has at home in Cedar Lake, he said.  

mleblanc@jg.net