On Sunday afternoon, 51 second-hand Fords will be sold to the highest bidders. They can't legally be driven on U.S. roads. Some don't even have engines.
They'll probably bring in a bundle.
The vehicles are a sampling of Ford Motor Co.'s concept cars from 1960 through 2000. They will be auctioned off by Ford Motor and Christie's International Motor Cars of New York at the automaker's product development center in Dearborn, Mich.
The event marks the first time a Big 3 automaker has auctioned a concept car collection.
General Motors has restored most of its concept cars, dating back to its 1938 Buick Y-Job. The concepts are kept in warehouses in Michigan, and are used for auto shows or other events, such as the annual Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit.
The Chrysler group has maintained more than 100 of its concepts since the mid-1980s. The automaker loans them out for dealer and other events, and keeps others at its Walter P. Chrysler Museum and in storage in Auburn Hills, Mich.
Neither plans to sell their collections.
"We would never sell any of our concept vehicles," said Sjoerd Dijkstra, Chrysler spokesman. "It would be like selling your grandma. It's selling your heritage."
Some of Ford's concepts are stored in the Henry Ford Museum, while others are in storage, or have been destroyed.
Ford Motor had offered the concepts to be auctioned to museums, but they were refused, said a spokeswoman. "They either would have had a dusty and dingy death in the warehouse, or they might have been destroyed."
To save them, Ford Motor design chief J Mays in November proposed the auction idea.
Although these vehicles no longer have a practical purpose, AutoWeek Publisher Rich Ceppos said collectors value them for their uniqueness and sense of history. The car enthusiast weekly is a sister publication of Automotive News.
"There are lots of reasons to own them," Ceppos said. "And the least of them is to drive it on the street."
No minimum bids have been set for the vehicles, but Christie's has provided its own estimates. They range from $4,000 to $8,000 for a 1996 Ghia Vivace coupe concept, to $100,000 to $200,000 for an emerald green 1992 Mustang Mach III concept.
How much they sell for will depend on how much of a splash the car made when it was shown, said David Kinney, owner of USAppraisal, an auto appraisal firm in the Washington area.
For the serious collector, Kinney said, there are real opportunities. For example, the 1993 Ghia Lagonda Vignale, which Christie's has estimated between $60,000 and $120,000, could land the purchaser a spot in a prestigious Concours, he said.
Anybody can peruse the concepts either on , or at Ford Motor's product development center in Dearborn, Mich., from Friday through Sunday at 2 p.m., when the auction starts. Only people who have pre-registered to bid on the vehicles can attend the auction.
Ford Motor considers the event the kickoff to its centennial celebration. Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Ford Fund, which supports more than 1,000 U.S. charities.