Since the passing of Leroy Hartung, there had been much speculation as to what
would happen to the vast collection of vintage cars, motorcycles, parts,
license plates, and hundreds of other collectibles that he had amassed over the
past fifty years.
It was announced in early September that Auctions America, a division of RM
Auctions, had negotiated a deal with the Hartung family, and would be offering
Hartung's fifty year collection of mostly untouched treasures for sale at a "NO
RESERVE" auction. Being very active in the collecting and restoration of
vintage motorcycles, I had heard about the collection in various circles a few
years ago, and had wanted to at least visit this fine collection and see for
myself what these finely preserved pieces looked like in their untouched and
finely preserved state. So, when I learned in early September while attending
the RM Auburn Indiana auction that the Hartung collection was to be offered for
sale to the public, I began making plans to attend to see if I could, perhaps,
pick up a piece or two for my own collection.
We loaded the motorhome up with food and fuel and, along with Ray, my driver,
and John, my mechanic, we set out for the sixteen hour ride to Glenview,
Illinois which is a suburb of Chicago. Also along for the trip was my friends
Sean and John from New Jersey. Sean was driving the new truck and toting the
new 26-foot enclosed trailer. That made five of us with the bus, pick-up truck,
empty trailer, and a few blank checks ready for action.
Upon arrival at the auction site, I noticed unusual high security and an
unusually high entrance fee. I later learned that this had to be done in order
to accommodate the large crowd that was expected and to insure that the real
bidders could at least get a seat and could also inspect the items for sale
without having to deal with the enormous crowd of spectators that was expected.
The RM boys were expecting us because I had pre-registered, and I was given VIP
access as I am a regular at the RM venues. An article that appeared in Old
Cars Weekly reported that people from 45 states and nine countries had
attended. All the hard-core collectors were in attendance. To name a few:
Lonnie Isam Sr. and Lonnie Jr. along with Dave Minerva, Billy Campbell. Mike
Terry, Vince Martenico, Dave Lightner, Matt Waulksler, John Szlay, etc.
The first items that came into view upon entering were the cream-of-the-crop
best items. I was especially interested in the 1911 Flying Merkel, the 1912
Harley (David)(son), the 1911 Excellsior, and the 1950 Veritas BMW with Spohn coach
work. Naturally, these were the items that I had the most interest in and,
after the dust settled, I became the proud owner of the 1911 Excelsior and the
1912 Harley (David)(son). Both are in pristine original condition. The Old Cars
Weekly article described the Harley as the best existing example in the
world. I did not win the 1911 Flying Merkel but, when asked what I thought
about the $200,000 price that it brought, I said that I was very happy to see
it bring such a large amount of money because I currently have ten of them!