For the past 21 years, classic and vintage bike fans have looked forward to the annual extravaganza of Daytona Bike Week for more than racing, anticipating the annual J. Wood Daytona Antique and Classic Motorcycle Auction. Much more than just an auction, the J. Wood sale has become an integral part of Daytona Bike Week and an event unto itself. That made J. Wood’s late November announcement they were cancelling the 2009 auction more than a little disturbing for the classic bike crowd. No Daytona classic bike auction? How could this be?
Jerry Wood blamed increasing bureaucracy for the decision, citing among other things that Florida law mandates he act as a dealer for all bikes sold, including processing titles for new owners. That and the general stress of running a consignment auction had convinced him and his wife (and partner), Dee, that it was time to call the Daytona auction quits. “It’s no secret that we’ve been looking to back off,” Jerry says. “Dee and I are 62, and the stress level is extreme when all that stress of running the auction falls on two people.” Money wasn’t the issue, he says, noting, “The event has always been successful and paid its bills, but we used to say, ‘wow, that took five years off our lives,’ and we don’t know how many five years we have left in us.”
Cal Rayborn's 1973 H-D factory XRTT racer sold for $160,000 at J. Wood's 2006 Daytona auction.
Fortunately, a white knight came in the form of classic bike dealer Glenn Bator, who runs a successful consulting and sales operation, Bator International, in Ojai, California. As soon as he heard about the impending death of the Daytona auction, Bator contacted Wood, and this week the pair announced the sale of the Daytona auction to Bator International. But why buy an auction when you could just hold your own? “Jerry has the experience, the mailing lists and the reputation, so basically I’m getting Jerry Wood’s reputation and the long running history of the event,” Bator says. “It’s a golden endorsement from him, plus all the players are still in place. I don’t have to go out cold and reorganize this.”
Bator’s long harbored a desire to get into the auction biz. He tried to buy an existing auction once before, but that deal fell through. With the amount of time he was already investing in organizing the annual Hanford Vintage and El Camino motorcycle shows in California, the two biggest classics bike events in Southern California, he didn’t feel he had time to go out and start a major event from the ground up. Now, with the purchase of the Daytona auction, Bator has the auction venue he’s wanted. “When I heard Jerry was canceling the show, I contacted him and we struck up a deal within two days,” Bator says.
A 1973 MV Agusta 750S Corsa drew $37,000 at J. Wood's 2008 Daytona auction.
Bator and Wood have agreed to work together for at least the next three years, with Wood continuing on as the auctioneer, just without the stress of actually running the auction. “I love to do the auction,” Jerry says. “I love the motorcycles and the people, and I like selling them, and that’s the arrangement I made with Glenn.” Bator’s clearly looking forward to working with Jerry, telling us, “I’m also buying an education, because we have less than four months to put this all together, so now I’ve got to put on a new hat and figure this game out. I want to do more than just this one, but I think with Jerry’s tutelage this will help me move forward into the next phase of my business.” Catch up on Bator International here, and get the latest scheduling information from J. Wood Auctions here. — Richard Backus