A.K. Miller’s Famous Collection Reappears

I decided to attend the now famous Christie Auction in East Orange in September 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 Miller’s 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.

HCS touring car restorationThe 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.

harry clayton stutz touring carWe 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 Ross’s 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 restoration was a good one and a fitting tribute to Harry Clayton Stutz and to Alexander Kennedy Miller.

My Experience at the 55th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Pebble Beach

I had never had the pleasure or situation where I could go to Pebble Beach or any part of the Monterey Festival which lasts over a week in August. Pebble Beach is considered the world’s premier gathering of classic motor cars which are “invited” to be on display during the one day culmination of a week of fantastic automobile pleasures! (Racing of vintage sports cars, tours thru a special parts of Southern California, fine automobile art exhibits, several high end auctions, corrals for the major enthusiast clubs, honoring of present and past automobile greats, etc.)

Andrea and I had arranged to get to Pebble for the Concours as part of our trip to California for a Rogers family reunion in Santa Rosa. Getting to Pebble Beach on Sunday meant getting up very early and driving straight for about four hours until we could park our rental car and walk several miles or take a bus to the site of the concours which is held on the area immediately between the Lodge at Pebble and the ocean next to the 18th hole. We eventually were “on site” after showing our tickets several times at about 12 noon!

Scott Sargent and Mike Lemire

We almost immediately ran into Mike Lemire and his friend, Olga. They were there because Mike and Scott Sargent, both friends, had just finished months of work on a gorgeous Bugatti cabriolet owned by Peter Mullin of Los Angeles.
In 2003 the car they had prepared won “Best of Show” at Pebble and this car was every bit as good, in my opinion. This time their efforts resulted in a 1st in class, a very significant award given the competition. In any case, for us it was a thrill to see my friends’ work so highly celebrated!

The featured marque was Delage but in addition twenty three classes of very special, rarely seen automobiles most of which were beautifully restored or maintained greeted our eyes, including a wonderful selection of rarely seen antiques such as a 1904 National or a 1904 Pope Toledo. Also some amazing vintage open wheel racecars such as a pair of 1916 Packard Twin Six and 1902 Napier Model D50 Gordon Bennett.

32 Alfa Romeo Spyder

What we will most remember was the variety of Alfa Romeos, mostly prewar, unbelievable in their variety of style and beauty but all stunning. It was also a special year for Alfa Romeo, a marque which has had a large presence at Pebble for many years. This year there were about sixty of the most famous Alfas in attendance, ranging from 1910 to 1956. All together there were about 200 plus cars, an ideal number for viewing in the time available.

1916 Packard Twin Six race car

A listing of the different makes of automobiles on display would be a who’s who of the great automobile manufacturers of the world. I was able to take about 40 photos a few of which are included, which indicate the variety and expressiveness of the assembled cars.

Finally it is important to mention that this one-day event is run with the utmost of professionalism. In spite of its exclusiveness, a pleasant and friendly atmosphere exists. I saw several people I happen to know from years of involvement in the hobby, among them David Steinman, a director of the VAE. It was a privilege to be on the grounds of Pebble and to share so many incredible cars with friends.