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‘Austie’ Clark 1911 Mercer Type 35R up for auction debut

18 June, 2014


Darin Schnabel © 2014 courtesy RM Auctions

Darin Schnabel © 2014 courtesy RM Auctions

It will be the auction debut of the ‘Austie’ Clark 1911 Mercer Type 35R Raceabout when it goes under the hammer at the RM Auction’s RM Monterey sale.

It has been owned for 65 years by the family of purchaser Henry Austin ‘Austie’ Clark Jr, who bought the vehicle in 1949. He was a pioneering researcher, noted collector, and proprietor of the Long Island Automotive Museum.

Austie Clark accumulated such a large and diverse range of vehicles that when it was packed and shipped off to The Henry Ford Museum it involved an entire month of packing, three moving trucks and over two decades to sort through and file the 54,000 pounds of material that had been collected.

The particular vehicle going up for sale is one of Clark’s earliest additions to his collection. It was a fixture at his Long Island Automotive Museum and it took part in exhibition runs in conjunction with the Bridgehampton races. Clark had a hand in organizing and funding these races.

Darin Schnabel © 2014 courtesy RM Auctions

Darin Schnabel © 2014 courtesy RM Auctions

The museum closed in 1980 and the Mercer has been driven mainly on windy stonewall-lined roads by two further generations of the Clark family. It’s now the right time to pass it on to a new generation of owners and this will be the first time it is presented for public auction. The Mercer is expected to bring in a huge level of interest with estimates of $2.5 million to $3.5 million (US dollars) expected to be achieved for this historic vehicle.

“Austie Clark was a connoisseur who knew great automobiles and made extraordinary efforts to preserve as many as possible and ensure they resided in good homes. As a result, even a quarter century after his death, knowing that a car was part of the Henry Austin Clark Jr. Collection is a stamp of approval, and the name is an integral part of its provenance,” says Shelby Myers, Car Specialist for RM Auctions.

The sale will be held on August 15–16 in Monterey, California — so if anyone’s planning a trip over there during that time it may be worth heading along to a preview day. Otherwise you can check out the lots from your living room at

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.