Jim’s Blog: A City of Cars

After a good night’s sleep, this morning’s plan was set: Grab something to eat and head up to B&T Specialty’s Reno auction, which is not a Hot August Nights event, but is taking place just a few miles from the heart of the city. Chad and I had an assignment to cover cars for ACC, and we wanted to get there early enough to take pictures and talk to sellers before the auction really got underway.

Of course, Hot August Nights is one of the biggest American car events of the year, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to walk out the main doors of Circus Circus Reno at 9 a.m. to see a car show already taking over the city. Roads were blocked off to everything but show vehicles, and people walked right down the center of the streets, checking out cool cars with plates from all over the U.S.

The cars themselves ranged from lifted pickups and a Vietnam-era Military Jeep (complete with an M60 machine gun mounted in the rear) to modified muscle cars and hot rods. Everything was pre-1972, as per Hot August Nights rules.

We grabbed a quick breakfast, checked out some of the show cars, and hopped in our Jeep Grand Cherokee for the five-minute drive to the B&T auction.

Now, like I mentioned before, B&T Specialty’s auction is not a Hot August Nights sanctioned event, but with so many cars and car people in town –- word is 10,000 registered Hot August Nights cars and another 10,000 unregistered – foot traffic there was solid.

Of the cars on offer, two really caught my eye. The first was a 1977 Chevrolet C10 that was described as a one-owner truck. It was offered for sale a few months ago by a private party in Wilsonville, OR, not far from ACC HQ, and I’d seen pics of it online. In person, it looked every bit the part of a 30k-mile C10, minus a respray and some reproduction interior panels. With the truck market booming as it is, I expect it’ll do well here – even though the square-body 1973-1987 Chevy and GMC trucks are still lagging behind their older brothers in collector interest and value.

The second was another ‘70s special, this one a 1978 Plymouth Volare Super Coupe offered at no reserve. When’s the last time you saw one of those? Plymouth built 474 of these in ’78, all with the 360 motor. Joe, the seller, mentioned that he bought it in 2009, did some work to it, and drove it for a while before deciding to part with it.

And he knows just how rare it is. He goes over the basics of the car with us, including the original wheel paint, which then brings up a great story: “Once,” he says, “a passerby stopped dead to look at it. He starts telling me all about how he hadn’t seen one like it in years. Apparently this guy stole one off a dealer’s lot when it was new and raced it around in the Reno desert. Ended up rolling it. He said he took the wheels and put them on his van. It was a full confession!”

Joe’s not too concerned about selling it. He actually has two!

We’ll have roundup coverage of the B&T auction in the next issue of ACC, as well as an in-depth report at Barrett-Jackson’s Hot August Nights auction, which was our next stop in the afternoon. Check out Chad’s blog about that here.

Tonight, it’s off to the races, and then we’ll hit the strip for an evening of cruising. Hopefully it’ll stay dry this time. Stay tuned!