Muscle cars and vintage pickups still fetch top dollar,
but couldn't match the show-stopping power of a special 1999 Prevost
By Alyn Edwards
November 2, 2015
People in the classic car hobby or considering classics as an investment should pay attention to the results of the latest Toronto Fall Classic Car Auction, put on by veteran auctioneer Dan Spendick and his crew. You never know what kind of closing bid a collector vehicle could attract – and you certainly can’t predict what will be offered for sale.
Despite the surprising absence of American bidders taking advantage of the low Canadian dollar and the fact that cruising season is over, prices were strong. Thousands of enthusiasts attended the three-day event at the International Centre, just outside of Toronto, to watch nearly 300 classic cars and trucks cross the block – and one bus that was the star of the show because it was owned by a superstar.
The 1999 Prevost tour coach was rushed to the auction from Prince George, B.C., on October 22 after Shania Twain wrapped up her 66-stop Rock This Country goodbye tour. The Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas headliner and five-time Grammy Award singer songwriter, who sold 85 million, albums custom ordered the bus from Prevost in Sainte-Claire, Que., in 1999.
Twain designed the interior of the palace on wheels herself with two separate living suites, an extra-large kitchen, soaker tub and even a recording studio area. The long silver bus has been her transportation hub for three major tours over the past 16 years, logging 225,000 kilometers (139,808 miles) from crisscrossing North America. Even a trailer hitch was installed to pull a trailer for Twain, who has been a long-time horse lover and incorporated a horse into many performances.
Classic car enthusiasts and Twain fans lined up the first day of the auction, with 600 people going through the Prevost Marathon Entertainer bus that originally cost more than $1 million. Twain had signed the inside of one of the kitchen cupboards.
Twain reportedly cried the last time she stepped out of the bus because it had been such a big part of her life and touring is now over for her. She may also have shed a tear after her tour management spent $110,000 in service work to get her bus ready for the final tour.
The auctioneer began the sale of the bus, which was far too big and heavy to drive on stage. Bidding was spirited but the final bid of $280,000 – plus a 10 per cent buyer’s fee – wasn’t enough to close the deal. When the auction ended, Shania Twain’s tour bus was still for sale.
But sales were strong with many classic convertibles, muscle cars, old pickup trucks and other collector cars changing hands. There were many unusual vehicles offered for sale, along with cars that aren’t made any more.
A red 1939 Hudson pickup truck that featured modern power drew a lot of interest. Another oddball – a 1956 Studebaker President Pinehurst two door station wagon with factory air conditioning – garnered a respectable winning bid of $18,000, plus the 10 per cent buyer’s fee.
Crossing the block was a 1949 Oldsmobile 88 Futuramatic, featuring the marque’s first high-horsepower overhead valve ‘Rocket’ V8 engine. This was the car that inspired Rocket 88, Ike Turner’s early 1950’s hit record. This green fastback model sold at auction for $20,750, not including the buyer’s fee.
Seldom seen was one of only 759 Canadian-built 1958 Pontiac Parisienne convertibles that was hammered down by the auctioneer at $48,000 – a price the owner of the car said wasn’t enough, so it as a no sale.
But there was lots of money changing hands at the auction, such as $105,000 for an eye-popping 1970 Dodge Challenger Hemi convertible. Restored trucks continue to be hot-ticket items, with a 1957 GMC attracting a successful bid of $71,000 and $69,000 for a perfectly restored black 1940 Ford pickup truck that had originally served the transportation needs of a Tennessee farmer.
It was a good auction for classic car dealer Mel Melanson from Bolton, Ont., just north of Toronto. He brought eight cars to sell, including a rare air conditioned 1963 Chevrolet Impala, powered by a 409 cubic-inch engine running through a four-speed transmission. The early muscle machine attracted a successful bid of $25,000.
With thousands attending the fall auction and several hundred vehicles changing hands, the event shows there continues to be strength in the classic car hobby and market. Maybe it was not the right venue to sell the Shania Twain’s personal tour bus, but the auction company is still determined to get it down the road with a new owner.