The rusty Indian

Most of my friends are always on the outlook for old and interesting cars or motorcycles. They usually send me a text message with a couple of pics and the question, “what do you think its worth?”. When I started in the auction business, I worked as an appraiser. I’d help the auction consignors establish a value, so they could get an idea of what their car might be worth before putting them in the auction.

I thought I was pretty good at that job.

But in today’s vintage car/bike market I can’t even come to understanding the market. This 1944 Indian Chief showed up on a local tow company website for their weekly auction. It was hard to get a good look at the old Indian with the posted pictures, so I went out to look at for myself. The Indian Cheif has been neglected for the past 60 years, it was rusty and had been disassembled. It was loaded with what is referred to as patina today.

It was an ex military bike bought in 1950, and by 1953 was put away. Needing a complete restoration, I thought it was worth $5-8,000 in present condition. On Ebay you can find fully restored ones priced from $15-40,000. It sold for $14,600 rust wins again.


Time to wait.

Time has a way of making you forget how much work it took to take a photograph with a traditional film camera. A couple months ago I dug out my old 35mm cameras out of the storage closet.

I was surprised after I had done some basic maintenance they both still worked. Well, at least the shutters still functioned. So I ordered a couple new batteries a roll of black and white and color film.

My oldest camera I received as gift from my parents when I graduated from High School in 1980, and the other one when I got out of college. I discovered Blue Moon Camera, here in Portland they specialize in vintage cameras and developing. I unloaded the film, drove to the store, dropped it off and waited. It took a week to get my negative back, and to too my surprise out of the all pictures I took there were a half a dozen good ones. It was worth the wait.


More Miles

Work and travel never keep me from clocking more miles on my old GPZ. I jump on my bike as often as I can. A spare minute always means another mile.

I have already managed to get a couple of really good rides in this summer. Last month; I made the trip back to my hometown of Spokane to help out my old friend, Jay with his annual car show in neighboring Rosalia. He had invited me back again to be one of the judges for his annual car show. It’s a tough job when there are so many great cars! Besides the old cars, I got to visit and chat with some of my old college friends who also made the trip to Rosalia for the day. 

My old 1983 GPZ ran like a top for the 800-mile round-trip. Even more surprising was how well I held up on the ride! When I rode the exact route last year, the 90-degree heat took it out of me. The much cooler temperature this year made for a much more comfortable ride.

This weekend, I did a couple of my favorite rides. First one had my heading east out of Portland onto Highway 84 towards The Dalles. From there I rode south on the 197 to Tygh Valley, then east onto Highway 216, which took me along the Deschutes River and up Shears Bridge Canyon. It’s a great twisty ride but you have to be careful because not all of the corners have guardrails. If you go off the road, it’s a hell of a long ways down to the bottom of the canyon! I continued on by connecting through Grass Valley onto Highway 97, then hooking onto Highway 84 westbound back to Portland. It’s a great 300-mile ride that I would highly recommend.

The next day, I took a quick spin to Mount Hood with a quick visit to Timberline Lodge. The road around the backside of the mountain takes you through the wineries and fruit tree farms of Hood River. It really was a perfect weekend of riding.

Did I do the speed limit?

Did I do the speed limit?

Sherars Bridge Canyon - a fun and fast series of twists and turns

Sherars Bridge Canyon - a fun and fast series of twists and turns

In the background is Oregon’s tallest mountain, Mount Hood

In the background is Oregon’s tallest mountain, Mount Hood

Taking a selfie break along the Columbia Gorge Highway

Taking a selfie break along the Columbia Gorge Highway


All of my Saturday nights through the spring and fall are filled with fundraising auctions. This last week though, our team had back-to-back-to-back auctions Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings! I am glad to report that we managed to meet or exceed the goals at each and every event and surpassed the expectations of all those who were involved.

It really is satisfying for me when my clients feel that we knocked an event out of the ballpark. It is especially rewarding when they are loyal clients whom I have had the pleasure of working with the longest in my auctioneering career. In today’s fundraising world, if the same auctioneer is invited back for three or more years in a row; that is considered a long stretch. So, I consider myself supremely lucky to have working relationships of upwards of ten years with some of my schools and non-profits.

I still have a few full weeks ahead, so see you at the next auction!



October kicks off the fall fundraising season here at srdorsey auctioneering! Instead of the bevy of beer and bratwurst that defines Oktoberfest, our month is chockerblock full of benefits and galas, special appeals and fundraising auctions.

This year, we are back at the World of Speed Museum. We are working again with Chad Brown and his Soul River Foundation in Portland, then onto San Francisco for the Wild Salmon Center 25th anniversary celebration at the end of the month. We will likely raise over a million dollars at these three auctions alone. Very exciting stuff.

On the car side of things; I worked a collector car auction with my old boss Mitch Silver, over the weekend. We'll be meeting up again in Southern California and Las Vegas. Check back in with us at the end of the month to see how we made out!

My Other Job

This weekend marks the end of the traditional fundraising season. This autumn through spring, each of the not-for-profit groups that I worked with saw another solid year of growth. But I didn't do it all on my own.

We have to thank all the volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year for these schools and committees; so that when I show up on the day of the big event, the audience shows up and is ready to do its part by giving. It really does take a huge team, most of which are your steadfast volunteers, to make sure that your fundraising auction is successful. So when it comes time; before, during, and post-event, make sure that you recognize how much you appreciate the help of your event staff!

I have some exciting auctions coming up, with a bit of a break in July and August. So I'm looking forward to enjoying some warm weather this summer and then to branching outside the Portland area this coming fall.

The One Moto Show

One of my favorite Portland motorcycle events was back again this year. In its eighth year, The One Moto Show was at its biggest and best yet. I went to my first Moto Show six years ago. Back then; it was a just a gathering of a few custom, restored and original bikes in a small warehouse space in SE Portland. This year though; over 80 builders and their custom bikes were out on display in a big, old warehouse that used to be a working factory in North Portland. Over three days, more than 15,000 people came to check out all the metal masterpieces. Can't wait for next year's show!

Happy Holidays

With Thanksgiving turkey in the rearview mirror, it's a quick countdown to Christmas only three weeks down the road.

Waterwatch wrapped up this year's fundraising with a bang. Thanks to Nina Johnson for sharing her photography skills. Next year is already looking to be a Happy New Year filled with fun fundraisers. Good to have our loyal repeat customers back and a warm welcome to new clients joining our team. We look forward to starting the 2017 fundraising season right with a new-to srdorsey auctioneering not-for-profit group. Revving up in February and gearing down in November, there is still lots of availability remaining in the first and last months of next year's auction calendar. If you have a specific date in mind, best to get on the stick!

A couple of notable upcoming events is auction week in Arizona, January 18 to 22. You will see a record number of cars consigned this week in 2017, with seven auctions competing for your business. Even I have been eyeing a few auctions I may head down to. There are some worthwhile cars to bid on. Of course, don't forget to check out the first motorcycle auction of the year too.  Mecum returns to Las Vegas January 27 to 29. I'm planning to make it down there for at least one of those days.

So happy holidays to you and your families. Thanks for a tremendous 2016! I wish you all the best in the new year and am excited to see what 2017 has in-store for us all.

Thanks for a Great Year!

This past weekend, the srdorsey auction team finished up another successful fundraising auction season. In 2016, I'm proud to say that we helped over 20 non-profit societies, public and private schools, and charitable foundations reach their fundraising goals! Overall giving was up this year; but the auctions that took place during the uncertainty of election week, may have suffered a bit of pull-back. Despite 2016's being an election year, each and every one of our returning clients saw an increase in what they had raised from the year before.

I'm very excited to welcome four new clients who will be joining the srdorsey auctioneering team in 2017! I'm really looking forward to 2017's turning into another great fundraising year too. Please also join me in welcoming Dave Colson to our team. You may have already seen him around on the ballroom floor. In the new year, he will be making regular appearances as ringman and lending his hand as auctioneer too.

Our 2017 event calendar is filling up fast! If you're looking to bringing us back again in the coming year or considering holding your very first fundraising auction; the srdorsey auctioneering team would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks everybody, for a great year!

Bigger Is Not Always Better

At the end of November, we will be finishing up our final fundraising auctions for the year. The last one on our roster is slated for the Soul River Foundation. Chad Brown is in charge of this not-for-profit aimed at helping inner city kids and veterans who suffer from PTSD. To learn more about the good work he is doing, you can check him out at

This year has already been a big year for growth. All-told, eight new clients joined the srdorsey fundraising team. A couple were very large auctions with over 300 people in attendance and more than a $150K raised in one night! Though the majority came to us as grassroot groups starting up with their first fundraising auctions. Most had limited to no experience in organizing a fundraiser. So we were able to guide and coach them into holding their first auctions, which turned out to be better events than they had imagined possible.

On average, we managed to raise between $20,000 and $50,000 on auction night, which was enough to cover their expenses and provide much needed revenue for these kickstart non-profits. Our success didn't surprise me; but what did, was how difficult it was for these small groups with limited resources, to find an auctioneer who was willing to be paid less to work a smaller auction.

In my experience and opinion; it is even more crucial to hire a professional auctioneer for a smaller and newer auction, than it is for a well-established auction that has been running year upon year. Most auctions take at least three years to establish themselves. Usually in year one, we establish a baseline of funds raised. The next year, we improve a bit more by raising more than we did at the inaugural event. Then by the third year, the tendancy is for the amount of money raised to plateau. But not to worry; because by year three, we have typically tripled the amount we have raised from the first auction!

So whether you are considering your first ever auction or you need to spice up your tenth annual one, we are glad to help you out!

Chad Brown. Photo compliments of

Chad Brown. Photo compliments of

Back at the Track

I've had a busy summer full of trips to visit old friends and to work car auctions. So with a weekend at home, I headed out to the Portland International Raceway to watch the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association Vintage Car Races this past Saturday. It had been a few years since I'd made my way out there and this year did not disappoint. There was a great mix of cars and a couple even had a local connection to Portland.

If you've never been to Portland, the PIR is actually managed by the Portland Parks Department and is located 10 minutes from downtown Portland. It's also connected to the MAX, Portland's public light rail system. With the exception of temporary road courses built for one-off events, it is the closest racetrack located in or to any major city in the USA.

Along with Porsches, Corvettes, stock cars, MGs and other British racing cars; there were lots of open-wheel cars and a couple of vintage Indy cars. The one that I was most interested in was the car that Jim Clark last raced here in the States. The race was at Riverside in the Rex May 300.  It was 1967. Two months later, he would die in an accident in Europe. This particular car was built here in Portland, Oregon by the legendary car-builder, Rolla Vollstedt. Rolla built many of the cars which competed in the Indy 500 races of the '60s.

I also got the chance to meet two of my childhood racing heroes. Both Al Unser Sr. and Al Unser Jr. acted as grand marshals for the weekend's races. I have always been a fan of them both, throughout their storied racing careers. They were gracious enough to let me grab a photo with them. I got their autographs too.

Summer Has Arrived!

Summer has arrived here in Portland!

Last weekend, we already reached temps of 100 degrees. So I've been getting out early in the day to ride my motorcycle with my riding buddies. We always congregate at a local coffee shop to shoot the breeze while enjoying a great latte. This past Sunday, we hit three different spots. Talk about a caffeine overload.

I'm still managing to get a bit of work in, between gardening and auctioneering. Although The fundraising calendar slows down in the summer, new and old clients alike are calling to book their fall events. Spring of 2017 is gearing up to be a busy one with my February and March nearly fully booked. If you can believe it, I've already had a booking request for 2018!

Enjoy your summer. I already am. But then, an auctioneer's work is never done. I'll be close by this summer if you want to drop a line or give a holler!

Bikes and Lattes

The combination of perfect weather, no weekend work and a fully functioning vintage motorcycle all added up to make a memorable Saturday afternoon ride around my wonderful city, Portland. I wish I could have more time for weekends like I did this past weekend. My neighbor and fellow biker nut buddy had a great ride to Portland's newest motorcycle inspired coffee shop. Located in historic St. Johns, Two Stroke Moto Cafe is fast becoming the destination ride for PNW riders and coffee drinkers. It was great to join all the other Portland riders, talking motorcycles and enjoying coffee. The guys there make a great vanilla latte.

Yeah, Portland's built up a lot of traffic since I've lived here; but when everything lines up, it's still one of the greatest places to ride a motorcycle.

The Line Starts Here

A few Friday nights ago was the opening night of The One Motorcycle Show here in Portland. This was the fourth time that I had attended the show and this year's was, by far, the biggest and busiest.

Some of the best bike-builders in the country came from near and far to have their bikes on display. All-told there were over seventy-five motorcycles in the show. Every one of them, a customized work of art. Each one, a unique sculpture on two wheels.

As I mentioned, I decided to attend on the opening night; thinking that the majority of the crowd would show up for the big Saturday night party. Boy was I in for a surprise. It ended up taking an hour to get inside. Though we literally inched our way to the front door, everyone in line was extremely polite and patient. There were people from all over the USA and even Canada, plus one guy who came all the way from South Africa. While we were all waiting together, we talked about the bikes we owned and the ones that we might like to buy in the future. It was a great night that started early in the line-up all the way through till the end of the show.

I'm already excited about next year's and would highly recommend it!