Going unnoticed is goal of auction employees

September 2, 2018

“Trans Am Sam” sat quietly in the car Saturday, looking straight ahead with both hands on the wheel.

In a few seconds, the 22-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, native would lightly tap the accelerator and slowly guide the 2006 Ford GT onto the auction block at Auburn Auction Park, where the car would fetch more than $360,000 from a bidder.

It’s good work if you can get it.

Sam Arant interned as a mechanic this summer for RM Sotheby’s, the company that owns the park and runs the annual auction there that draws thousands of gearheads and car enthusiasts. On Saturday, he helped get rare cars such as the GT into position to be sold.

“It’s definitely something I’ll be able to hold onto,” Arant said of the experience.

The GT was among the first of the supercars produced by Ford in Detroit. It has fewer than five miles on the odometer and is among just 4,033 produced between 2005 and 2006, according to a catalog from RM Auctions highlighting the vehicle.

While the cars certainly are the stars of the RM Auctions Auburn Fall Sale, the event would be impossible without people like Arant. Mechanics, drivers, cashiers and other volunteers and paid employees work in the background to make the auction run smoothly and without trouble.

They might be nearly invisible among the glitz of expensive supercars, restored muscle cars and classics, but they are not taken for granted, said Jake Auerbach of RM Auctions.

Auerbach said if people notice the moving cars but not the moving pieces such as Arant, that’s the goal.

“Our job is to make it look like it’s a very easy, straightforward process,” he said.

In fact, Auerbach is among the hundreds of nearly invisible but essential pieces that keep the auction’s pistons firing.

The New York native is a car specialist for the auction company. He got his start working at a car restoration shop on Long Island in high school.

Now, he’s the guy to talk to if you want to sell a car at auction or buy one. Auerbach can get you in touch with the right people to figure out how much your car is worth and what paperwork you need to fill out to sell it.

He is in some ways the gatekeeper to the auction.

“We’re the people that help shepherd you through the process,” Auerbach said.

He guides people, but it is Arant that sometimes guides the cars.

Arant said it’s exciting to drive expensive vehicles, but that excitement is tempered by the fact he has spent hours working on cars most people never will be around, let alone drive. He recently worked on a Duesenberg Model J worth about $800,000.

“It’s still exciting, but they’re all just cars,” he said, moving on to the next one.


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