This past weekend, San Francisco, CA based auction house Bonhams and Butterfields sold a large collection of Steve McQueen memorabilia at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The sale was well attended, with most of the items selling for four figures or more and the bulk of the motorized vehicles (almost entirely made up of motorcycles) selling at a high rate with the high sale being $245,000 for a 1937 Crocker 'Hemi Head' V-Twin motorcycle.
The sale flesh out a crowd looking for something that I want to focus on here, namely, automobilia. While the Steve McQueen auction was highlighted by items of all sorts that used to belong to the late, great actor, there is no denying McQueen's close connection to the automotive world through such flicks as Bullitt and Le Mans. Automobilia can largely be considered anything that is related to cars or the culture of the automobile, but that is not an actual vehicle. This can include everything from posters and hood ornaments to neon signs and gas pumps. The latter two are especially popular as decorations to private garages.
The neon sign has held a position very close to gear heads' hearts as they have always been a part of car culture. Dealers and repair shops used them to identify themselves, and the most famous road in the US, Route 66, was defined by the neon signs that lit the towns that bordered her meandering path from Chicago to LA.
Today, auctions and catalogs abound the automobilia market is booming. Best of all, the cost of entry into the realm of automobilia is considerably cheaper than the cost to get into the collector car market, making it more appealing to a larger number of people. You may not realize it, but automobilia is in more places than you think, you might even have some in your house right now if you own any one of a number of Lalique paperweights (the Chrysis, Eagle's Head, Swallow, and Rooster are all original Rene Lalique hood ornaments).