Mark Trimble, owner of the Ozark Auto Show Museum, decided to liquidate his inventory 30 years ago and the history of the Branson collector car auction began.
It took about three years for Trimble to sell his stock, but the auctions continued. Trimble realized that the auction was good for the community, drawing visitors to town every October.
“Back then, the day everybody went back to school, the tourist season ended,” said Jim Cox, current owner of Branson Auction.
A few years later, Trimble gave Cox an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“Mark said, ‘Jim, you ought to own an auction,’” Cox said, recalling the 21-year-old conversation.
Cox purchased Branson Auction for $1 in 1989.
Cox soon added a second auction every year — one every April to “jumpstart the spring season.”
Cox said that about the time he made the purchase, the bottom fell out of the collector car industry.
“The first three years were tougher than nails,” Cox said.
He estimated he lost about $72,000 the first 36 months he owned Branson Auction.
In the early years, the auction was held in the parking lot of White Water. In the spring of 2004, the auction was moved to Chateau on the Lake.
From 2004-07, the auction was held on the grounds of Celebration City.
The auction has been held at Branson Convention Center ever since.
“We were the first contract the Branson Convention Center ever signed,” Cox said.
Two years before the convention center ground breaking, Cox signed a three-year contract.
Over the years, about 15,000 cars have gone up on the block. The top seller was a 1933 Duesenberg Model J Sports Sedan that sold last spring for approximately $750,000.
This weekend, 300 more cars will go up for bid at Branson Convention Center during Branson Auction’s September sale.
An estimated 6,000-7,000 people attend each auction, which has between $7-8 million in sales a year.
The highlight of this year’s auction is a 1936 Horch 853 Cabriolet. A total of 619 Horch 853 Cabriolets were produced between 1935-37. The 1936 Horch made its way to the United States in the early 1950s as a military appropriation. The car later made its way to a St. Louis auto museum and then another auto museum in Rapid City, S.D. The Rapid City museum went under and its inventory was sold. The eventual owner was a South Dakota businessman and entrepreneur with a passion for automobiles and machinery.
The vehicle’s last drive was in the mid-1970s when it participated in the Black Hills Auto show. From there, it was driven home and parked in a garage below the main house, where it remained until recently.
Doors open 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 10. The auction begins at noon. On Saturday, the doors open at 8 a.m., with the auction following at 10 a.m. The Horch will go up for bid around 2:30 p.m. Saturday.