Classic cars kick off Barrett Jackson auction at Mohegan Sun
Uncasville — It was a smooth ride for 68-year-old Tom Becker until he pulled into a parking lot at Mohegan Sun early Saturday evening.
After nearly 200 miles and seven hours, Becker's 1933 green Auburn 8-101A, the very first car he bought, started showing signs of strain.
The car's radiator started to overheat, and the cooling fan stopped working. After attending a banquet Saturday night, Becker and his brother worked on the car so that he could drive it back home to Fonda, N.Y., on Sunday.
Not only did they get the car working, but Becker went home with some recognition. For his travels, he received the "Distance Award" at the New England Concours D'Elegance, a parade of elegant cars that took place at the casino's Turtle Lot on Sunday. Cars were hand selected to participate in the judged event which gave out awards such as "Best in Show." The Barrett Jackson" award went to a 1971 green Buick GSX, one of the top muscle cars in the '70s.
"I'm honored that my car in this condition was invited to come out, and then to receive an award, it's just a humbling experience for me," Becker said.
Some of the other cars in attendance included two Duesenbergs, luxury cars built in the early 1930s that were famous for their engines after successful races at the Indy 500, and a 1922 Detroit Electric, an early electric car mostly marketed toward women for its dependability.
The concours event, which featured about 75 cars, was sponsored by Barrett Jackson, the collector car auction company, which is putting on a full week of events in connection with its second Northeast Auction from Wednesday through Saturday at Mohegan Sun.
Sunday's event brought classic car aficionados like Becker, who was 10 years old when his dad bought the family a 1932 four-door Auburn sedan. Becker learned all about the Auburn through working on its engine as his brother's "gofer," fetching the parts he needed.
Years later, in early January 1970, when returned from serving in the Vietnam War, his brother told him about a 1933 Auburn being advertised for sale in a Philadelphia newspaper. Becker bought it for $950, and said he's keep it in as original condition as possible. He said he has no plans to sell the car, and he gets great pleasure out of being able to drive it.
"I am going to be 69 this year and I will continue to drive it as long as I can," Becker said as he prepared to drive the car he's owned for 47 years back the 200 miles to Fonda.
His brother, who told him about that 1970 advertisement, was going to drive behind him in case anything happened.
In the "early years," when Becker was in his 20s, he'd drive the car, which was built to travel 80 to 100 miles per hour on the highway, almost 65 miles per hour when traveling from Philadelphia to Auburn, Ind., for an annual car auction on Labor Day weekend.
On his way home Sunday, he was planning to drive about 50 miles per hour.
"I'm older. It's older," he said. "We respect each other."
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