A 1940 Standard Station Wagon is ready for sale, surrounded by period signs. Michael Dingman, 80, relishes neon. 'When I was growing up, you saw neon signs everywhere,' Mr. Dingman recalls.
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CONCORD, N.H. -- Michael Dingman has spent much of his life collecting vintage Fords and classic neon signs, restoring and keeping them well preserved for years.
Now the former Ford Motor Co. director is ready to share his slice of Americana with others.
Nearly 50 cars, many of them from Ford's flathead-engine era, and well over 1,000 signs are up for auction today and Sunday at his property in Hampton, N.H.
Mr. Dingman, a businessman and investor, was a Ford director for more than 21 years and raced cars.
He sees himself as a student of Ford history.
In a recent interview with the auction house, he said he enjoyed the car hunt and grabbed the best convertibles, woodies, and others he could find through the years.
Michael Fairbairn, co-founder of RM Auctions Inc., said, "In the Ford world, the V-8 flathead Ford is like up on a pedestal. It may not be the fastest, it may not be the prettiest," but it draws car collectors. "It's what's in their blood. It's what they think of when they think of a great Ford."
Mr. Dingman bought and restored them.
One of his most prized cars, estimated at $225,000 to $275,000, is a rare, restored 1936 Ford custom cabriolet by Glaser, the coach builder of choice for "deluxe" Fords in Europe.
Another is a 1947 Ford Super Deluxe Sportsman Convertible, valued at $240,000 to $280,000, representing the epitome of Ford's open woodies.
The oldest car up for auction is a blue 1934 Ford Deluxe Phaeton.
For those looking for a newer car, there is the very first 2005 Ford GT, valued at an estimated $325,000 to $375,000.
The black car with silver stripes was offered to Mr. Dingman by the Ford Motor Co. in appreciation of his years of service.
Other items in the auction include a pair of Porsches, an Aston Martin Vantage Volante, and a Prevost XL40 conversion motor home with kitchen trailer. It was converted for Mr. Dingman to use during his racing career.
In addition to the many automotive signs and posters in Dingman's collection, are ones for soft drinks, beer and other products.
Some are neon, others are made of tin, porcelain, wood, and glass. The collection also includes a series of Route 66 signs.
"When I was growing up, you saw neon signs everywhere," said Mr. Dingman, 80. Now most have disappeared. "I wanted to capture that period."