If you’re a true connoisseur of all things vintage automotive, E3 Spark Plugs urges you to mark your calendars for a trip to Boca Raton, FL February 24-25. That’s when RM Auctions and Sotheby’s will sell off upwards of 1,100 lots of amazing and rare antiques including toys, player pianos, jukeboxes, guns, Tiffany lamps and massive chandeliers collected over the past four decades by the Milhous brothers, Robert and Paul. But the real Milhous treasures are the gorgeous vintage cars.
In 1959, Paul Milhous made the first fateful purchase of a player piano, followed by dozens of rare and unique musical instruments. During the early 1970s, brother Robert caught the collecting bug when he purchased a 1934 V12 Packard 1101 Convertible Victoria that had been commissioned by Marie Dressler, the formidable actress known for her role as the original Tugboat Annie in the 1933 film of the same name. He began showing the car at major concours events throughout the United States, winning at every appearance. So enamored was he of the experience that he began adding other vintage beauties to his stable.
Soon, the brothers’ collections outgrew both their homes and their wives’ patience. So, in 1978, the two, who had made their millions in the printing industry creating circulars and comic strip inserts for newspapers, opened their first museum.
Over the years, the massive collections ended up in a nondescript corporate park building that belied the treasure it held. Inside, the museum bore the sumptuous ambiance of a Prohibition-era speakeasy and veritable wonderland of antiques. Among them: 29 vintage cars, five motorcycles, two tractors, a motorbike, a popcorn and peanut wagon, a PT-22 airplane and the only known surviving 1912 Oldsmobile Limited. The Olds alone is expected to fetch bids of $1.5 million or more.
The Milhous brothers are known for not just showing antique items behind velvet ropes, but for creating mesmerizing environments around their coveted pieces. For the car buffs, they created an exact replica of a Union 76 service station from the late 1910s and a half-size replica of the famous Auburn Cord Duesenberg Auto Salon of Auburn Indiana – just the way it looked in 1935. The brothers even commissioned the original brick manufacturer from the 1920s to recreate the same brick used in the original structure.
Got some extra cash and a passion for vintage automotive? Visit RM Auctions’ Milhous Collection website to see photos of all the items up for bid and information on registering for the auction. (See below for a video overview – The good stuff starts at the 1:45 mark). And if you make a purchase, be sure to take a pic and share your bragging rights on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook fan page. Happy bidding!