A trio of stainless steel cars produced by Ford and Allegheny Ludlum sold at auction for $950,000.
Billed as “The Historic Stainless Steel Trifecta” and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the cars were sold Saturday night as a single lot by Worldwide Auctioneers at the 13th annual Auburn Auction.
They were offered for sale without a minimum price.
The buyer’s identity was not known.
The lot included one of each example produced by Ford and Allegheny Ludlum, predecessor of today’s Allegheny Technologies Inc.: a 1936 touring sedan, a 1960 Thunderbird and a 1967 Lincoln Continental convertible.
The three are among a total of 11 ever made — six of the 1936 sedan, two Thunderbirds and three Lincolns.
The 1936 sedan is one of only four of the six known to still exist. One is displayed at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
The cars were removed from a garage at ATI’s Hot Rolling and Processing Facility in Harrison for the auction in April, sparking the ire of the United Steelworkers Union, from Local 1196 in Brackenridge up to the international level.
ATI cited economic challenges brought on by the covid-19 pandemic in its decision to sell three of the four stainless steel cars in its possession. The company retained a Lincoln Continental.
“We are really pleased that these unique vehicles are in the hands of an experienced collector who will maintain them well into the future,” ATI spokeswoman Natalie Gillespie said after the auction. “As you know, ATI is not in the business of maintaining classic automobiles, and their value was deteriorating in our possession.”
Regarding the final price, Gillespie said it was impossible to set a price on something “that is so unusual. … We chose to sell the vehicles by auction to set a true market-driven price and we’re pleased with it.”
Watching the auction from his home in Buffalo Township, Local 1196 President Todd Barbiaux was in tears after the cars sold; he said he was at a loss for words.
“Those cars represented a relationship between the workers and the company. They represented a relationship between the community and the company,” he said. “That’s all gone now for less than $1 million.”
Barbiaux said he figured the cars would sell for between $800,000 and $1.4 million.
“I almost want to laugh in their (the company’s) face,” he said. “They gave away something very precious for less than $1 million.”
Mary Lou Bitar, a retired New Kensington-Arnold School District teacher living in Arnold, never saw the cars in person, but feels a special connection to them. Her father and grandfather worked for Allegheny Ludlum in West Leechburg.
The cars sold for much less than the $1 million each, or $3 million total, that Bitar expected.
“That’s what they’re worth to me,” she said.
Calling the auction of the cars “regrettable,” Bitar said the Alle-Kiski Valley lost a piece of itself with them.
“They should have stayed here in the Valley,” she said. “I don’t think they should have taken those cars.”
Before the auction, Gillespie said ATI has not made any decisions regarding the remaining Lincoln.
Barbiaux said he hopes the company donates the Lincoln to the Allegheny-Kiski Valley Historical Society in Tarentum.
Barbiaux, who said he’s retiring in May, said he would dedicate his time to helping maintain the car.
“That car doesn’t belong in Texas, or Florida or Canada,” he said. “That car belongs in Brackenridge.”
Bitar said displaying the car in the community could help make up for the loss of the other three.
“I would like the children, especially those who grew up here and those who are here now, to know these cars were important,” she said. “They were an important part of our history.”
Business | Editor’s Picks | Local | Valley News Dispatch