Michael Dingman didn’t know how to quit. He beat cancer twice but both times after he was given his diagnosis, he sold off his dazzling collection of cars, memorabilia, and fabulously restored neon signage in single-owner RM auctions in 2006 and 2012. With remission, he got right back into collecting and restoring mode.
Dingman was a racer, always behind the wheel of a Ford, and finished fifth in the 1992 IMSA GTO season championship in a Roush Mustang. His corporate accomplishments included creating Wheelabrator-Frye, merging it with Signal Companies to become Allied Signal, then forming a spinoff group of companies into Henley Group.
His affection for Ford, and particularly Henry’s flathead V-8, was reflected in every Dingman collection. Always meticulously restored and maintained, his high standards of restoration and presentation were universally acknowledged. That may have been a reflection of his 21 years as a director of the Ford Motor Company.
Dingman’s final bout with cancer claimed his life in 2017, and RM Auctions recently sold his final assemblage of signs and neon, a complete railroad car-style diner (which brought $336,000 including commission), and 18 vehicles, all but three bearing a Ford nameplate. An additional 19 cars from other consignors were auctioned at Dingman’s fastidiously-maintained facility in Hampton, New Hampshire, June 23–24, all without reserve.
Eight cars, six from the Dingman Collection and two on consignment from other owners, are described below. A few have odd calculated hammer bids, suggesting some negotiation of the standard buyer’s premium (12 percent of the first $250,000 and 10 percent over that). A more complete report of 30 of the 37 vehicle lots can be found at rickcarey.com.
Final price: $68,400 ($61,071 plus commission of 12 percent)
Specs: S/N 18165765; Dark Blue/Aluminum shell, Red leather cushions, no top; 1929 Model A Brookville steel body, V-shaped Deuce radiator shell, Guide headlights with built-in parking lights, turn signals, steel wheels with trim rings and hubcaps, blackwall tires, ’38 Ford banjo spoke steering wheel, raked vee windshield with matching chrome front frame spreader. Flathead V-8 with Ardun OHV heads, Austin three-carb intake, Edwards air cleaners, Joe Hunt magneto, fuel cell, juice brakes, 1931 Chrysler instrument panel, and gauges.
Notes: Customized restoration, 2- condition. Very good paint, chrome, and interior. Marvelous speed equipment. Not fresh but better than most of its counterparts. Recently rebuilt Ardun-Ford with new block, cam, and lifters.
Analysis: Sold by RM at Monterey from Jack Boxstrom’s collection in 2007 for $143,000, then sold back to Jack at Ft. Lauderdale in 2011 for $39,050 but with a stock flathead engine. Reunited with its Ardun, now rebuilt, this is a primo street rod and a very good value at this price, a car that couldn't be replicated for twice this money.
Final price: $80,640 ($72,000 plus commission of 12 percent)
Specs: S/N 1B4402; Acadia Green, Yellow accent/Green leatherette. Black wheels, hubcaps and trim rings, chrome bumpers, dual taillights, right running board mounted spare, engine oil filter.
Notes: Recent restoration, 2+ condition. Excellent paint, interior, and chrome. There is one tiny chip on the back of the driver's door behind the accent and the instrument faces are somewhat aged, but those are the only noticeable flaws. Even the wood bed spacers are varnished. Described as restored in the last century, but looks like it was done last month. From the Michael Dingman Collection.
Analysis: The doors were lettered “The Farm,” and one wag noted that the new owner could be said to have “Bought The Farm.” That didn't seem to deter the bidders who paid a handsome price for a handsome truck, but the underbidder will look a long time before finding a similar one from this period just before the war.
Notes: Competition car, original as-raced, 2+ condition. Clean, orderly, as-raced condition with storage cobwebs indicate it hasn't run since bought from Roush. Good cosmetics in Dingman's livery, but this is Tom Kendall's 1996 Trans Am championship winning chassis and drivetrain. From the Michael Dingman Collection.
Analysis: In his 60s, empire builder Dingman took up auto racing in Roush-built cars in SCCA Trans Am, one of the most competitive classes of the day, and IMSA GTO, always in Ford-branded cars. He finished fifth in the 1992 IMSA GTO series. When Jack Roush sold off his old Mustang race cars, Dingman missed out on acquiring one of the cars he drove, but his consolation prize was this ex-Tom Kendall Trans Am championship-winning car. It excited the bidding contest of the day and, after nearly stalling out below $300K, took off between two bidders in the room (one rumored to be representing Tommy Kendall) to this substantially astounding result. It's an epic car, but this is an epic price for it.
Notes: Concours restoration, 1 condition. Excellent paint, chrome and interior. The exterior wood framing is 90-percent birdseye maple, some of it gloriously figured. All the wood panels fit perfectly. The engine compartment and chassis are better than new but not overrestored. A real showpiece, and the 1946–47 red accents on the chrome are delicious. From the Michael Dingman Collection.
Analysis: Restored by Jim Lowrey for Mike Dingman in 2011, then sold in RM's 2012 Dingman sale for $132,000 and reacquired in 2014. Its quality is such that it wasn't expensive then, and it isn't now, despite the estimate range.
Notes: Older restoration, 2+ condition. One of the updated “Spring Model” 1947 Fords. Excellent paint, chrome, and interior. The mostly-original wood framing is nearly impeccable aside from a few water stains at joints and fasteners. The underbody, chassis, and engine compartment are like new. An older restoration updated by Ford woodie specialists since it was completed and better than new. From the Michael Dingman Collection.
Analysis: Sold by RM at the 2012 Dingman Collection auction and subsequently re-acquired, the quality of the older restoration and its diligent upkeep resulted in a superior price which it deserved.
Final price: $103,600 ($92,500 plus commission of 12 percent)
Specs: S/N 1Y86H414255; Sunburst Yellow/Black leather, Black vinyl top; air conditioning and everything else.
Notes: Recent restoration, 2+ condition. Superb paint, interior, chrome, top, and glass. The engine compartment and chassis are as close to flawless as they need to be. This may not be the best Continental Convertible Sedan in the world—if it isn't, it is so close that it doesn't make a lot of difference—and the color is both unusual and eye-catching. From the Michael Dingman Collection.
Analysis: It takes a magnificent Continental Convertible Sedan to be worth six figures and only a very few have breached that benchmark. This one deserved to join that exclusive club, but even then it is expensive.
Final Price: $89,600 ($80,000 plus commission of 12 percent).
Specs: S/N 0072H5064459; Black/Grey, Beige broadcloth; Three-speed, no radio (the radio frequency labels are on the clear panel, but there's no radio dial behind them), heater, dual Mercury remote spotlights, wide hubcaps and trim rings, wide whitewalls, ’51 Mercury fender skirts with a set of stock ’50 skirts included, Smithy's glasspacks, lowered 2 inches.
Notes: Unrestored original, 2- condition. Has 22,923 all-original miles. Very good original paint with some small flaws, scrapes, and tiny edge chips. Clean original engine compartment and chassis. Even the cardboard trunk cards are pristine. The upholstery is flawless, as are the original floor mats and carpets. The chrome isn't perfect but is more than good enough to be kept as is. The engine compartment is clean and orderly. Panel fits are like new. Early Ford V-8 Club Rouge Award for originality. Skeptical about the glistening paint? There's a chip on the left front fender where the hood nicked it and there is no discernable evidence of earlier factory paint. Amazing.
Analysis: This Merc was the surprise of the auction, a vehicle that is lucky to have escaped the attentions of would-be George Barrises. Its originality is eye-opening and so was the bidding on it, which stalled early in the high 20s, then took off between two determined bidders to this final result, double the low estimate. It is expensive, but there is not likely to be another one out there like it, and it is just used enough to be driven sparingly with minimal effect upon its condition or value. The bidders' judgment rules: this is market, at least for this original and well-preserved car.