MADISON, Ga. - Some of the coolest and craziest cars ever produced will hit the auction block this Friday and Saturday.
Bruce Weiner owns the largest microcar collection in the world. A microcar is a car that originated after World War II; most were made in European countries and the vehicles provided a better means of transportation for workers. In the early 1960s, Japan produced better and more luxurious vehicles, which led to the end of microcar production.
Weiner started collecting microcars in 1991 when he stumbled across one at a car auction in Atlantic City. He's been collecting the tiny vehicles ever since.
"The average one (took) me four or five months to finally convince someone to part with it," Weiner told Nelson's News on wsbtv.com. "But I've had some cars that have taken 11 years. I've had a lot of cars that have taken four or five years. Every car has a story, that's what's so great about it."
In building the collection, Weiner scoured the world to secure the best, the rarest and the most unusual examples extant. Many of the microcars set to be auctioned have never been offered in an auction before.
But Weiner has now decided to part with most of his prized possessions.
"Collecting is the treasure hunt, is the chase," Weiner said. "I love the chase. I love the hunt. And for the last three or four years, I haven't bought anything, haven't hunted anything and I've been the custodian. I love sharing what I have and I have shared it all, but it's gotten a little boring, paying the bills, housing them, maintaining them and looking after the responsibility of having such a large collection."
A dozen workers from RM Auctions were at the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum in Madison on Wednesday preparing for the big event. About 300 bidders from across the globe have already registered for the auction. Organizers expect about 1,000 people will be at the museum for the event.
“Bruce Weiner is the consummate collector with an incredible sense of fun and remarkable eye for rarity and quality — elements that are all perfectly reflected in his prized collection,” said Rob Myers, chairman and founder of RM Auctions. “As a microcar collection, the Bruce Weiner Museum is unequivocally the finest of its kind worldwide. With many items having been closely guarded in private ownership, and the vast majority coming to public auction for the first time, the sale is truly unprecedented. We look forward to welcoming enthusiasts to what promises to be an unbelievably fun and unforgettable weekend.”
The auction includes 200 cars and more than 300 collectibles, including period neon signage, exceptionally rare kiddie rides, hugely valuable microcar models, literature and period vending machines and candy dispensers, all from the 1950s — the heyday of the microcar.
The auction is expected to bring in several million dollars. Weiner estimates several of the vehicles will fetch more than $100,000 each, including a 1959 Coca-Cola Gogomobil.
Thursday is the preview day for the auction. A catalog costs $80 and that admits two people to the preview. Bidder registration is $150, which includes an official auction catalog and admission for two to the preview and auction. Organizers noted they had to charge to attend the events because of a limited amount of space. Interested bidders and spectators can take part online, too.
And while Weiner will part with 200 vehicles this weekend -- all lots are offered with no reserve -- he said he did keep 12 microcars out of the auction to keep for himself.