Venice

Spring 2016

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186 Venice The devotion to classic cars extends across generations of the Gould family. BY RONALD AHRENS PORTRAIT BY JASON NUTTLE THE THE AUTO ZONE t recently dawned on Donnie Gould that there's more than just 1,225 miles between Trucksville, Pennsylvania, and Fort Lauderdale. Three generations of Goulds and thousands of classic and collectible cars span that distance as well. "I'd never really connected the dots," says Gould, 55, president of Auctions America, the mass-market arm of collector car industry leader RM Sotheby's. Along with his three teenage sons, Gould will direct Auctions America's sale of vintage and collectible cars from April 1-3 at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. Starting with M.H. "Tiny" Gould, Donnie's father, the Gould family's trademarks have been honesty, integrity and just "getting things right." The patriarch, a sizable gent, was ironically known as Tiny after a track announcer narrated his attempt to wriggle into a midget race car. When a heart attack ended Tiny's racing career in the late 1950s, he became one of the first full-time antique car dealers in the nation. He operated Tiny Gould Antique & Classic Cars from a cinderblock building in Trucksville and promoted an auction at Pocono Raceway. Along the way, he became known for doing business on a handshake. The Gould family's involvement with car auctions in Florida goes back to the Hollywood Sportatorium in 1975, two years after they'd moved from Pennsylvania. "We had some big cars—Duesenberg, Delage, an Olds Limited," Gould recalls. "There were average collector cars as well. But the sale wasn't all we thought it could be. We put that on hold a few years until we found a nice location in Boca Raton at the polo grounds." As a young man entering the business, Gould showed a rambunctious side to offset his father's pragmatism. A vintage Jaguar dealer named George Bentley got to know Gould in the 1980s, when the successor to the Hollywood Sportatorium auction was established in Boca Raton. "Donnie now is fairly subdued, but he was quite a character," Bentley says. "The first time I ever teamed up with him, we ended up in a hotel, terrorizing the place and having a good time for a couple of hours." In particular, Bentley remembers Gould driving a race car that was about to go up for bid. "He comes tearing around the corner of the tent in that car, and he wasn't just tip-toeing up to the auction block, he came sailing around," he recalls. "He was fun. I liked the hell out of him." The Boca Raton sale stayed at the polo grounds well after Tiny's death in 1987. It grew to surpass $1.5 million in gross sales. But problems developed with the co-promoter, Gould moved to the parking lot of an abandoned jai alai court, and the gross fell to $400,000. Persistence and having a good reputation paid off in the opportunity to partner with RM Auctions' Rob Myers, who defined success as a $3 million tally for the sale they planned in 2003. "I almost choked," Gould says. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy." Yet the new partnership's first effort did $6 million—"Double what we had penciled in!" This spring's sale, now under the Auctions America umbrella, will be their 14th together. In recent years, Gould has received help from his three sons, who are poised to advance the family's legacy. Jeremy, 19, started out polishing cars and now drives them in and out of the salesroom. "My favorite so far is the McLaren F1 LM," he says, referring to the limited-edition, papaya-orange supercar that's powered by a huge 12-cylinder engine. Still, Jeremy says that friends regard him as "a glorified valet." Justin, 16, excels at ice hockey when he's not working an auction, while Jacob, 15, is fixing up a vintage Mustang with his father. He imagines what his grandfather, Tiny, might think about their involvement with collector cars: "I feel like he'd be excited and proud that my dad has brought us into the company like he has." v I

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