The white Continental Mark II above sold for $26,500. It may have been the best Mark II at the auction. The other two photos above are some of the rows and rows of parts cars.
J.C. Daniels Auto Auction
Pampa, Texas, February 22-23, 2003
Introduction and Photos by Michael Black
Originally published in the May/June 2003 issue of Continental Comments (Issue # 252).
Webmaster’s Note: This is an historical recreation of an article originally published in the May/June 2003 issue of Continental Comments magazine. The J.C. Daniels collection is not currently up for auction.
J.C. Daniels was a West Texas oilman, rancher, and, more importantly to this story, owned a Lincoln dealership in Pampa, Texas. And, although the invoices from the Continental Division do not support his claim, Mr. Daniels boasted that he sold more Mark IIs than any other dealership in the country. Until his recent death, Mr.Daniels claimed to own the largest collection of Lincolns in the world.
To my knowledge that claim was true. Although less than half of his 400 cars were capable of running, the number of his cars were authentically “Texan” in every respect.
Members of the J.C. Daniels family were smiling at the prices paid for the cars.
Similar to Jett Rink of Edna Ferber’s Giant, Mr. Daniels’ collection was larger than life and excessive to a fault. When I visited his collection about 10 years ago, the memory that is most vivid is not just the cars, but also the tires. In typical Texas fashion, Mr. Daniels had his initials or name on everything in sight. This was also true of the many different sizes of tires that he had stored in a separate building. Each of the tires (and there were many) were custom molded, instead of having the name “Firestone” or “Goodyear” in raised letters on their sidewalls, the tires bore the raised name of “J.C. Daniels”. I can’t begin to guess the actual cost of such vanity, but it makes for a great story.
Not only were there many cars, there were many LCOC members present to see them. Members came from Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, California, Illinois, and, of course, Texas.
Some of the buyers had never owned collectible Lincolns before, and they were told about the LCOC. The car buyers were mostly interested in the benefits of joining the LCOC; when explanations were given about the information that the club has available for members, several asked for membership applications.
– Michael Black
Originally, the estate wanted to sell all of the cars as a group, but after two years they could not come up with a single buyer willing to pay their price. Therefore, the cars were sold individually at a no reserve auction which brought $1.2 million plus another $30,000 for the rough, non running but restorable cars, parts cars and parts.
Saturday, the first day of the auction, the running cars were sold inside the auction building. On Sunday the parts cars were sold; it was so cold outside, about 20 degrees above zero, that photos of the cars were shown on a screen inside.
There were a lot of our members at the auction. Geoff Weiner bought two parts cars, a 1964 beige sedan and a 1961 convertible in prime. He got to the auction several days early and had plenty of time to look over the cars. In fact, one night Geoff and a few others were locked in the place and were ready to rip through the gate with a crowbar before somebody from the collection came to rescue them.
Here is Geoff’s story as he told it to Continental Comments about a week after he returned from the auction.
Continental Comments: Were there a lot of rusty cars?
Geoff Weiner: “Nothing you could see. Well, there were bondo jobs, so you didn’t know if they had rust or not. The bondo jobs were just awful. Awful sides. Awful paintwork. Awful everything. They were middle of the county cars. There were two fellows that had been under every 1956 and 1957 Mark II, and said that of all the Mark IIs, there were 42 of them, he believed that more than half of them had rotted frames.
The best Mark II brought $26,500. It was a white ‘56 with the wrong (vinyl) upholstery. Daniels never upholstered them in leather. The paint jobs were typical used car lot paint jobs. On the 1961-65 convertibles, when the tops were down, where the top sits on the top of the quarter panels, you could see where they hadn’t been painted with the top down. So you might have had a white car that was previously red, with red at the top of the quarters. It was just horrible.
On a lot of the slabside cars, if they painted the car on the outside they painted the engine compartment black. It was just not the proper color. The people doing restorations on these cars are just going to have an enormous job to bring them back to what they should be. But if you wanted a nice driver, probably they would be fair cars.
Every one of these cars had big fat wide whitewall tires which were all wrong for most of them. Daniels must have gotten a buy on new tires. (See Michael Black’s comments [above]).
Most of the cars were a number three at best. Of all of the cars that were there, probably there weren’t more than ten maximum that were really decent, nice cars. There was a red 1971 Mark III that was a very nice car. There was a nice 1969 Mark III that David Jenkins bought. It was turquoise with a white top and a turquoise interior in fabric. It had been repainted, but it was a very nice car.
There were a couple of nice Mark Vs. There was a 78 Diamond Jubilee in gold that was a 34,000 mile car, and I think the car brought seven or eight thousand dollars.
There was a 1977 or ‘78 Lincoln Continental just outside the door, an original car, with I think 30,000 miles. That car brought $2,000 and was well worth it. But cars like this were the exceptions.
There was a very nice ‘78 Lincoln Town Coupe, a triple black car, which had like 92,000 miles. It looked like it had been in a body shop and had overspray all over the car. It was sitting outside and was filthy. I was willing to pay $ 1,000 because a nice color sand and a buff and the car would have looked beautiful. But somebody else liked it and was willing to pay $3,000.
Most of the cars had not been running in about 15 years. I heard they spent two or three months getting them running. So most of the cars that went through the auction the first day were running. A lot of them were running but had no brakes when they went through. In fact, I think it was the 1967 convertible that had the grafted on front of the ‘77 Town Coupe, and it couldn’t stop. When it went through, the guy cut the wheels too hard and he hit the door. The fellow who bought it negated the sale and they sold it afterwards, on the parts day for less money.
There is a gray 1960 convertible that a fellow bought, and he is going to have Paradise Motorsport in Illinois restore it. Herb Sheffer bought a red ‘60 that is going with it.”
Continental Comments: Considering the condition of most of the cars, why were buyers willing to pay so much for them?
Geoff Weiner: “From what I could see a lot of people came and looked at the cars and left before the auction when they saw the condition of the cars. A lot of people flew in and flew right back out. They came a long ways for nothing. They were just awful cars. There were very few really nice cars there. But most of the buyers seemed to be overlooking that. There was one guy sitting beside me wearing painter’s coveralls. He had a cell phone, and he was buying everything, even the junk cars.
A lot of people did not do their homework. There was one guy there first thing Thursday morning in overalls. He had a note pad sheet, and he had every Mark II listed, including VIN number and color. He critiqued every single car and wrote it all down. He wanted to buy a driver Mark II for $10,000 or less. He asked Jack Rosen for opinions and so forth. He was walking around with his note pad for two days solid, Thursday and Friday. But I never saw him there on the days of the auction, and I doubt if he bought a car. The ones that were over $10,000 were more than he wanted to pay, and the ones under $10,000 probably weren’t worth it. But most of the people who did buy cars did not do their homework. I don’t think that most of the people who know cars would have bought most of them.
J.C. Daniels’ son bought 15 of the Mark IIs back to honor his dad, and they were not the best Mark IIs. He didn’t buy the two or three good ones. I think he bought 15 horrible cars” concluded Weiner.
Jack Rosen bought a good solid 1956 Lincoln Premiere sedan driver, a 1957 Lincoln Landau driver, and a 1949 Lincoln Cosmopolitan four-door sedan parts car. Jack came mainly to introduce himself to the people who bought Mark IIs because he felt they would be good prospects for his Mark II Enterprises parts business.
Rosen laughed about the deplorable bodywork on all but a few of the Mark IIs, and the vinyl interiors in the ones where the interiors had been replaced. He took all kinds of photos of all the wrong items on the Mark IIs—wrong rear view mirrors, wrong engine accessories, wrong hubcaps, etc. One Mark II had been equipped with dual headlamps. Another had permanent pillars put in front of the rear quarter windows. Rosen found it hard to believe why anybody would buy so many Mark IIs and then do such poor restoration work on them. Rosen noted the man who did the restoration work. He wore very nice suits which J.C. Daniels bought for him. The guy actually thought his restorations were good. “He just didn’t know any better,” Rosen mused.
Herb Scheffer of The Lincoln Old Parts Store in Clearwater, Florida, bought a lot of parts cars as did several other Lincoln dealers in the hobby. Herb commented, “It was quite a happening. It is my definite opinion that the overall quality and information given prior to the sale was inaccurate, to say the least. Many who attended were down right angry that correct and accurate information was not given.
The supposedly good cars were not very good with a few exceptions. The parts cars were just as you’d expect. The crowds were large with a reasonable number of bidders. It was the consensus that the prices for most of the cars in the Saturday auction were higher than the cars warranted. There were possibly two Mark IIs that were worthwhile, and maybe many of the suicide door convertibles were worth it. By and large the paint and body work on these cars was awful, they were generally incorrect, and none should have been driven home.
The weather Saturday was lovely. Sunday was brutally cold and windy so the parts cars were auctioned off inside the main building using pictures. All things considered, the entire auction went smoothly and was very much enjoyed, except for the weather.”
Pat and Bob Gee from California bought one of the nicer cars at a good price. It was a 1967 sedan in very good condition, and they only paid $2,750.
Pat wrote: “In our opinion, the cars were rough to average, nothing sensational. As always, the first few cars auctioned went for reasonable prices, but after that, 90 per cent of the cars went way over their value. We were fortunate to get a 1967 sedan in good condition with bucket seats, and very nice upholstery for a reasonable price.
The attendees from the west besides us were Jack and Linda Rosen, Jan O’Neal and Marv Wendt and Geoff Weiner. Michael Black from Houston was there, and from the east were David Jenkins and Margaret McClatchety, and probably more members we didn’t see. Various Lincoln supplier groups were represented.
Saturday we loaded up the car we bought as a driver and were all ready to head back early Sunday. We did hit a little snow outside of Albuquerque and Flagstaff, but it was not bad and we had a pleasant trip.
Pampa was a nice little town in the Texas Panhandle where people were friendly. The highlight was the Texas Rose Steak House Restaurant with very friendly waitresses, good food and the best on premises home made small, delicious cinnamon rolls that were served for desert. Yum, yum! With that and the good company we enjoyed the event.”
Linda Rosen seemed to enjoy the town and the people more than the auction. She loves to tell the story about the old man at the bank who had worked there since the thirties. She also enjoyed talking to Daniels’ wife.
Nobody, even Daniels’ wife and children, know why he bought so many cars. He was buying cars from his hospital bed just few just a few days before he died of cancer in January, 2000. Cars were arriving at the collection for months after he
In both life and death, J.C. Daniels was a legend. His fame spread far and wide among Lincoln lovers. Some of the best cars sold were a 1941 Lincoln Continental Cabriolet at $37,500, A 1938 Lincoln Willoughby at $37,400, a 1941 Lincoln Zephyr sedan at $19,500. actress Gene Tierney’s 1941 Lincoln-Zephyr convertible at $43,450, and what was reported to be JFK’s 1962 Lincoln Parade car at $16,500.
BELOW: Dick and Pat Slusser from Colorado with Joe (blocked from view), and Lana Hill from Texas, and Grant and Joan Milne from Colorado.
ABOVE: So many cars — so many missing parts! A Mercury station wagon sans windshield.