America’s love of the open road will be a theme at this year’s Auctions America by RM Aug. 30 – Sept. 2 Auburn Fall auction as exhibited by a restored Model A and camper combo that looks like a time capsule from the 1930s. Nearly 1,500 American muscle cars, classics, foreign sports cars and hot rods will cross the block at the historic Auburn Auction Park, the company’s national headquarters in Auburn, Indiana.
Towing a camper full of fishing gear across the country is nothing new; marine products representative J.M. Keely saw much of the southeastern United States from just such a rig in the middle of the Great Depression. Keely modified his new 1931 Ford Model A Deluxe and custom-built trailer (est. $150,000 - $225,000) for heavy-duty road use, and it provided him a sales platform as well as on-the-road accommodations. Once retired from the road, the Keely combo lived in storage for many decades until its recent restoration.
The nautical-themed, custom-built, single-axle camper is a 20-foot-long rolling fishing cabin with twin bunk beds, a hooded gas stove, icebox, sink, writing desk and cabinets housing Keely’s original enamelware cookery and utensils. A 25-gallon water tank with hand pump serves the camper, and an attachment allows “shore water” to be piped aboard. Model A cranks and regulators operate the trailer’s windows, and brass screens keep the mosquitoes away.
The restorer carefully recreated the lettering that decorated the exterior of Keely’s caravan, advertising products such as Rain-Beau Fishing Lines and Sea Horse Brand Fishing Tackle. A veritable boatload of rare fishing supplies – rods, lure, floats, oars and small outboard motors – is included with the sale, as is every scrap of paper and notebooks full of photographs Keely kept to document the life of this car and camper.
As it sits now, looking like its vintage photographs come to life, the Model A is fitted with a heavily reinforced rear spring and cross member and still has the axle, hubs, brakes and thick steel rear wheels from a Ford AA truck. Unlike a stock Model A, the four-cylinder engine in Keely’s car has two six-volt generators – one to power the car’s electrical system and the other for twin storage batteries that run the trailer’s lights. When parked at a trailer camp, a 110-volt hookup powers fans, lights and a radio for the self-contained environment. At primitive locations, juice comes from an onboard gas generator.
“This Model A and travel trailer combo is a real find for us,” said Auctions America by RM’s President Donnie Gould. “Our Car Specialists are always on the lookout for vehicles that grab attention and set us apart from our competition. We are very happy to offer this 80-year-old travel rig with so much genuine nostalgic value and history.”
In addition to the nearly 1,500 cars for sale, Auburn Fall will feature a seminar and special display devoted to the 50th anniversary of Carroll Shelby’s legendary Cobra and Mustang sports cars.