It was put-up or shut-up time for Norman Covey.
Auctioneer Rick Little had shouted and harangued the price of the 1984 GMC Caballero up to $5,500, and there were just two bidders left – Covey and a guy with a long, gray ponytail and a straw hat.
The bid was up to Covey, and sweat was beading on his forehead. He seemed to have turned into a statue.
“Gotta go, gotta go,” Little shouted. “Fifty-seven-fifty. Don’t lose it at this price. You’ve been with me all the way. Now one more time.”
Covey at last flicked his right hand upward. The guy with the ponytail shook his head and the gavel went down. Sold: $5,750.
Covey grinned and his wife, Cathy, hugged him.
“I was hoping it would be a lot less,” said Covey, a maintenance mechanic from Eatonville. “But they don’t make them anymore, so …”
Covey’s personal drama was one small act in Saturday’s LeMay Car Show at the LeMay Family Collection’s annual automotive extravaganza in Spanaway.
Every year for 35 years, the LeMay family has opened up its collection of more than 1,000 collector cars on the last Saturday in August for a day of ogling, trading and car talk at the former military school called Marymount.
What started as a small gathering of friends of Harold and Nancy LeMay, with lemonade served on the front porch, has turned into a event so popular that a fleet of shuttle buses ferries people to and from nearby parking lots.
This year, according to LeMay Family Collection Foundation director Trudi Cofchin, more than 7,000 people showed up for the daylong event.
In addition to the auction, during which more than 100 old cars and assorted bits of cars were sold, the show featured not one but two multimillion-dollar Tuckers, displayed side by side for the occasion on a revolving turnstile.
Another favorite, especially for kids, was the Tow Mater truck, of Hollywood fame.
The annual car show also offered the rare opportunity to access the grounds of Harold and Nancy LeMay’s private residence, a place a place Harold LeMay used to refer to as “a three-story house with a 300-car garage.”
In addition to collector vehicles, the estate houses Nancy LeMay’s large collection of dolls, plus an array of miscellaneous farm equipment, fat tire bikes, hub caps, rusty machinery, tools and gas pumps.
South Sound vehicle enthusiasts are enjoying an assortment of treats this weekend. Besides the LeMay Family Collection’s show at Marymount, Tacoma’s LeMay-America’s Car Museum had a vintage motorcycle and scooter festival Saturday.
Sunday, America’s Car Museum is hosting an all-Corvette show called Capital City Vette Fest IX. Those who want to admire the cars get in free.