Whether selling, buying or attending as a spectator, early wagon and vehicle auctions are always interesting for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that they give us an opportunity to examine and potentially learn more about these vintage wheels. There can be dozens of brands, vehicle types, construction methods and manufacturing eras represented. As a result, each vehicle can carry a wealth of potentially valuable information just waiting to be discovered.
Often, the early vehicles at these events will have some type of change or adaptation from their original production design. Once the levels of originality and authenticity have been established, though, it’s easier to spot distinctive features specifically related to the brand… and, while a visual dissection of each set of wheels usually takes some time, the larger number of vehicles on site makes these locations a great place to conduct side by side evaluations of not only different brands but those from the same maker as well. Inevitably, there will be differences that help us to better understand the vehicle and more readily recognize important features.
To that point, I often receive queries asking how a particular maker labeled their vehicles. It’s a difficult question to answer because – like today – those standards tended to change over time as well as between different models and regions of use. Not long ago, I had someone ask if a particular logo from a Weber wagon was indicative of an older design. In this case, it was not. I’ll give the person credit, though, for recognizing a difference and understanding that there was relevance to these areas. Oftentimes, that’s where the best lessons take place – when we see a distinctive difference and then work to secure an answer reinforced by primary sources.
The next time you’re at a vehicle auction, take some extra moments to look closer at the differences between similar vehicles. It’s a practice that will ultimately – and inevitably – uncover important details that not only help to better understand and appreciate these work horses on wheels but, can also play a key role in preventing buyer’s remorse down the road.