A 1957 Buick Station-Wagon, Jay Leno and George W. Bush – The Recipe For Charitable Success




You might be asking yourself…….. what do these three subjects have to do with having a successful charity auction. No doubt the three elements of surprise came together at the opportune moment and turned good day into a ‘great day.’


The story begins at Pebble Beach, California, home of the prestigious automobile show that attracts the rarest, top notch cars around the world. This year’s show revolved around the Gooding Vintage Auto Auction held every year in conjunction with the classic car show.


This year’s Gooding auction involved what now turns out to be the most expensive vintage automobile ever sold at auction, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta. People from around the world bid on this prestigious car, and in the end it was hammered down for a staggering $38.1 million dollars.


But that’s not what this article is about, as one particular car stood out from all the rest, a 1957 Buick Caballero Estate Wagon. The car was beautifully restored, a project right from Big Dog Garage, the personal garage of Jay Leno himself.


The desirable car carried a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. Once the wagon took center stage, Jey Leno himself came up and announced that the automobile was being auctioned off to benefit “The George W. Bush Military Service Initiative,” which honors post 9-11 veterans and assists them in transitioning back to civilian life.


But Wait – that’s not the unique part of the story.


A unique aspect of the car is that Bush signed it himself on the inside door panel, that alone helped but what is about to transform on-stage is what makes this story unique. Jay Leno gives his talk and it’s time the car to go ‘under the hammer’ for charity.


The car starts low, but quickly reaches $100,000


The pace picks up and the bidding passing $200,000


The bidding get fierce and finally ending at an impressive $300,000, bringing the crowd to a thunder of applause – for bidding on behalf of a great charitable organization.


But wait something more magical then that happens……………….


The new owner of this amazing car walks up on stage and donates the Buick back to Gooding Auction to sell it again for the same charity.


The crowd goes wild, standing ovations and clapping for two minutes until it’s time to sell that car again.


Again, Jay Leno gets up on stage, thanking the man for giving the car back after just paying $300,000 for it, and once again the car is brought up to auction.


Once again the bidding is quick paced, passing $100,000


Then $200,000


Then it finally is hammered down for the second time for $280,000 to the same gentleman that back-bid it in the first round of auctioning.


Once again, the crowd goes wild and gives another standing ovation to a job well done and to those at Gooding Auction, Jay Leno’s Garage, Jay Leno himself and of course to George W. Bush.


In all, the rare classic Buick brings an amazing $580,000 and illustrates the ultimate act of giving in ways that many cannot understand.


To add a smile to this story, ask anyone that attended the Pebble Beach Gooding Vintage Auto Auction event and ask them this “what part of the auction do you remember most?” ………….. many will remember the $38 million dollar Ferrari, but most will remember that stunning 57’ Buick Caballero Estate Wagon and the events that unfolded over a car that had more meaning, more love and more giving than anything else in the world.


Here is the catalog description from Gooding’s Auction for the Pebble Beach Classic Car Auction venue:


Positioned at the top of the Buick line and sold only in the 1957 and 1958 model years, the Caballero was inspired by Buick’s 1956 Centurion Dream Car. With its B-pillarless design and sweeping door line, Buick’s flagship wagon was a true design leader. Though successful, high production costs led to the cancellation of the Caballero model before 1959.


This striking Buick Caballero Estate Wagon has been generously donated to the George W. Bush Foundation by Portland’s Sondland-Durant Foundation. Sold new in 1957 by William Murphy Buick in Culver City, California, this Caballero remained in the possession of its original owner until 2012. The classic Buick is said to drive effortlessly, shows very well, and has been hand-signed by President George W. Bush, “43.” The George W. Bush Institute, founded by former President George W. Bush and Mrs. Bush in 2009, is a public policy center in Dallas with the mission of advancing freedom by expanding opportunities for individuals at home and across the globe. The George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative honors the service and sacrifice of post-9-11 veterans and their families.


Through research, resources, programs, and presidential recognition – the unique ability of the former Commander in Chief to convene, spotlight, and inspire – the Military Service Initiative unites the efforts of communities, nonprofits, businesses, academia, and individuals to find and advance solutions to empower veterans to continue to serve as national assets after they remove the uniform.



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