Doris Day’s 1930 Ford Model A Roadster sells for $96K

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Nearly one year after Doris Day’s death, her fans made sure she’ll never be forgotten, gobbling up items owned by the Hollywood legend, singer, and animal rights activist. In a weekend estate auction hosted by Julien’s, fans of “America’s Sweetheart” placed online bids for more than 1100 items from her residence in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, known as “Overlook.”

Day died of complications from pneumonia on May 13, 2019. Day would have celebrated her 98th birthday on April 3.

Julien’s said that the auction generated more than $3 million, far exceeding presale estimates of $300,000–$600,000. All proceeds benefit the Doris Day Animal Foundation (www.ddaf.org).

Topping the list of items sold was Day’s 1930 Ford Model A, which she owned for more than 35 years and was frequently seen driving around Carmel. The rumble-seat roadster, which Day nicknamed “Buttercup,” sold for $96,000, more than nine times its estimate of $10,000.

The car was a gift from a fan and Day had it restored in the early 1980s. It is powered by a 40-horsepower L-head 200.5-cubic-inch four-cylinder engine, mated to an unsynchronized three-speed manual transmission. Among the Model A’s features are dual running boards, front and rear bumper guards, side and review mirrors, rumble seat, mounted spare tire, wire wheels, and four-wheel mechanical drum brakes. The odometer reads 35,142 miles.

Included is Day’s personalized license plate “1 Bixby,” a reference to her nickname, “Clara Bixby,” given to her by good friend Billy De Wolfe decades before. It also has written starting and shut-off instructions taped to the dash.

Day used the Model A on her 1985–86 cable-television talk show, Best Friends, often taking her guests for a spin. That included Rock Hudson, who publicly revealed the toll that AIDS was taking on his body. Hudson died on October 2, 1985. “He was very sick,” Day said later. “But I just brushed that off, and I came out and put my arms around him and said, ‘Am I glad to see you.’”

Day’s best-known films are those in which she co-starred with Hudson, chief among them 1959’s Pillow Talk, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

The second-highest item sold at the weekend auction was also a vehicle, Day’s 2002 Cadillac Escalade, which went for $28,800.

Doris Day 2002 Cadillac Escalade
Juliens Auctions

Other highlights include Day’s three Golden Globe Awards, one for “World Film Favorite Actress,” presented to her in 1962 ($25,600), as well as in 1957 ($16,000) and 1959 ($22,400). Also a Columbia Records Gold Record Award for Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera) from 1956 ($15,625) and a Columbia Records Gold Record Award for the song, Secret Love ($16,000). The “Overlook” sign from her home in Carmel went for $16,000.

Julien’s, in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic, shifted from the previously announced public live event to a live online auction, with auctioneers conducting the sale in streaming video in front of a global audience of registered bidders and fans.

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