A.K. Miller's Famous Collection Reappears
Avery Hall [ February 2012 ]
I decided to attend the now famous Christie Auction in East Orange in Septem-ber 1996. I convinced Ross Anderson, a new acquaintance to go to East Orange on the day before the auction to see the cars and possibly partner with me in buying one. After viewing the dust covered and neglected relics of another time we decided we would bid on at least one of the cars. I had met A.K. Miller back in the 1950s driving an HCS touring car and had visited him with John Hawkinson (Hawkeye) a few years later. This early contact had introduced me to the HCS brand and to A.K Millerís personality which could only be described as odd.
Due to my early contact with A.K. Miller and some further research I became most interested in the HCS cars. Since HCS cars were built by Harry Clayton Stutz (thus HCS), after he had lost the Stutz Motor Car Company in a stock takeover, they were now considered to be Stutzes.
There were several HCS cars in the Miller collection. There were 3 or 4 four cylinder cars with wire wheels and one six cylinder car with disc wheels. It was very difficult to determine the condition of the over fifty cars in the short time available but we developed a list of the cars that we felt might be within reason and how much we would bid. On the next day (auction day) only I was able to attend the auction so it became my responsibility to do the bidding.
The auction was very well attended due to much publicity and the reputation of the Stutz name as well as the long standing anticipation of the break-up of this most unusual collection. The bidding was brisk. I was successful with my bid for the six cylinder HCS which was numbered lot #22. I made bids on a second HCS but was out bid to my relief.
A great deal of mystery surrounded A.K Miller and his wife, Imogene. They had moved from East Orange, New Jersey to East Orange, Vermont in the late forties, early fifties, bringing with them a huge collection of Stutz cars and other significant cars as well as an autogiro. They lived very frugally even though they had considerable wealth! Occasionally A.K. would agree to sell a car but he would withhold a crucial part for which he was the only source.
We brought our prize HCS and several hundred dollars of Stutz ephemera home to Burlington in my trailer and proceeded with the restoration. A few years after the purchase and the initial restoration, I purchased Rossís share of the car and continued with the restoration. One can see from the photos that there was plenty to do. This year at Stowe Car Show this car received a first place indicating the restora-tion was a good one and a fitting tribute to Harry Clayton Stutz and to Alexander Kennedy Miller.