Classic Van Auction Talk

Wednesday 31 August 2016



·        ‘Wendell’ the life-size, mechanical elephant makes auction debut at Auctions America’s Auburn Fall event this weekend
·        A Labor Day tradition spanning more than 45 years, Auburn Fall returns to the historic Auburn Auction Park, August 31 – September 4
·        Multi-day event highlighted by auction featuring 900+ collector cars and assorted automobilia
·        Weekend also features exciting range of auto-themed activities for the whole family, including appearance by former pro-wrestler Bill Goldberg
·        Frequently updated list of entries and digital preview catalog available at 

AUBURN, Indiana (August 29, 2016) – A life-size mechanical elephant that once inhabited Detroit, was used in the presidential campaign for Dwight Eisenhower, and made an appearance at the 1980 Republican Convention, is set to steal the spotlight at Auctions America’s Auburn Fall Collector Car Weekend, August 31 – September 4. A Labor Day weekend tradition spanning more than 45 years, the annual event at Indiana’s historic Auburn Auction Park coincides with the world-famous Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, bringing thousands of enthusiasts to the Classic Car Capital of America.

Over the years, Auburn Fall has been witness to the sale of hundreds of quality collector cars, with a roster of no less than 900+ vehicles slated for this year’s podium. Towering over the classic rides at this week’s sale will be Wendell, the Auburn Auction Park’s resident mechanical elephant, who after taking up residence at the Auction Park in 2013, is now looking for a new home.

“Wendell the elephant represents a very unique ownership opportunity and the ultimate conversation piece,” says Megan Boyd, car specialist, Auctions America. “The fully operational, life-size mechanical elephant would be a unique topper on any collection of cars, or could easily reprise his role as a distinctive promotional piece. We’re sad to see Wendell go, but look forward to hearing about his new adventures as the 65-year old elephant embarks on a new chapter.”

Formerly known as Jumbo, Wendell was built in England in 1951 and is one of only two known surviving examples. Originally ordered by Cunningham Drug Stores of Detroit for a promotional tour of its stores, the elephant was later used in the Motor City’s 250th anniversary celebration before making an appearance at the Republican National Convention of 1980.

Moving like the real thing, Wendell—who weighs a massive 1400 pounds and measures a monstrous 12 feet in length and approximately 8 feet 6 inches high at the top of his head—is powered by his original Model 948 Anglia water-cooled engine, with each leg moving independently, controlled by the driver perched on his neck. He also boasts the ability to shoot water from his trunk, thanks to a retrofitted five-gallon water tank, and is equipped with a CD player and speakers, providing music and sound effects.

Truly an engineering marvel of his time, the rare gentle giant is set to make a big splash this Labor Day weekend where he is expected to bring more than $250,000. As part of Auctions America’s commitment to give back to the local community in which it operates, a portion of proceeds from Wendell’s sale will benefit Kate’s Kart, a Northeast Indiana not-for-profit organization founded in memory of Katherine Anne Layman, (affectionately known to family and friends as "Baby Kate"), that supplies free new books to hospitalized children in the area.

This deserving local organization will also benefit from the sale of the Gary “Chopit” Fioto-designed “Bubbletop” Scooter Custom, commissioned by television personality and collector Barry Weiss after he purchased the original vehicle on an episode of Storage Wars. With an assortment of quirky features, including a flamethrower rear exhaust and tiki ice bucket, the custom power chair was built as a tribute to Fioto’s famed 1955 Ford “Beatnik Bubbletop”, which was sold at a previous Auctions America event. In addition, this Friday (September 2), Auctions America will offer Buy One Get One Free Admission to attendees that bring in a new, quality children’s book for donation to Kate’s Kart at the main gate of the Auburn Auction Park. Further information and a list of currently needed books are available at

This year’s Auburn Fall docket is highlighted by a terrific assortment of hugely desirable collector cars, including an ACD trifecta and a pair of Shelby Cobras. For those drawn to star power and provenance, some of the more unique offerings set to draw collector interest at Auctions America’s Labor Day Weekend tradition include:

·        1969 Dodge Charger “General Lee’, one of four “Bo’s General Lee” built by John Schneider (who played Bo Duke) and reported to have appeared in commercials and the film, Behind the Scenes with Bo. The General Lee comes to auction having been previously owned by Schneider along with former NBA basketball player and current ESPN analyst, Jalen Rose (Est. $80,000 - $120,000);

·        1964 Yamaha Batcycle with Sidecar, believed to be an original Batcycle used in the mid-60s Batman movie and television show (Est. $25,000 - $35,000, offered without reserve); and,

·        2004 Brinks Truck Mission Impossible III Movie Prop, reportedly used in the hit 2006 action spy film starring Tom Cruise (Est. $20,000 - $30,000, also offered without reserve).

Beyond the auction action, Auburn Fall features an exciting host of automotive-themed activities for the whole family, including Monster Truck Shows and Rides, Freestyle Sportbike Stuntshows and the Ultimate Race Fan Experience, featuring cars and simulators from Stewart-Haas Racing.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to meet professional athlete, former pro-wrestler, TV host and automobile aficionado Bill Goldberg, who will be signing autographs at the Auction Park on Saturday, September 3.

Enthusiasts looking for an opportunity to show off their own ride can join the Auctions America team for the Auburn Fall installment of the company’s Cars & Coffee series between 9am – 11am this Saturday, September 3. A full list of ancillary activities scheduled as part of this weekend’s Auburn Fall event is available online here:

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