LOS ANGELES — Rock singer Neil Young is selling some of his most prized possessions — part of his model train and classic car collections.
The Canadian folk-rock star is putting more than 230 of his vast collection of Lionel trains and some of his cars up for auction in Los Angeles in December. Some of the trains have estimated selling prices of up to $9,000, Julien’s Auctions said on Thursday.
Young, 71, known for his Woodstock-era songs as well as “Ohio,” “Heart of Gold” and many, many others, has been a passionate model train enthusiast for more than 20 years.
His collection and vast layouts at his California ranch took off in the early 1990s as a means of connecting with his son Ben, who has cerebral palsy, Young said.
Young is also selling some of his classic car collection.
- A first-in-production 1953 Buick Roadmaster Skylark convertible 50th anniversary special edition, with a steering wheel hub saying “customized for Neil Young,” that has a pre-auction estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
- A 1954 Cadillac Fleetwood Imperial eight-passenger limousine (estimate $30,000-$40,000) with the Cadillac crest styled “Broken Arrow” emblem on the rear passenger door, referring to both the Buffalo Springfield song and his ranch of the same name in Portalo Valley, Calif.
- A 1948 Buick Roadmaster Hearse built by Flxible (estimate: $8,000-$10,000) used by Young and his band, The Squires, to haul equipment to gigs in the early 1960’s. Dubbed “Mortimer,” it’s decorated with backstage passes and bumper stickers, and it inspired Young’s song “Long May You Run.”
- A 1941 Chrysler Series 28 Windsor Highlander two-door, three-person coupe (estimate: $15,000-$20,000), considered Chrysler’s most prestigious model in its day.
(For a closer look at Young’s lifetime interest in cars, here’s a New York Times interview from 2012, which includes an anecdote about the time he ate road tar. Or his memoir “Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life & Cars,” in which he recounts every car he ever owned, and describes how he wrote the lyrics for “Like a Hurricane” in the back of a friend’s 1950 DeSoto. He promoted the book in this NPR interview. He also tipped us off to the return of the Lincoln Continental, and is known for his LincVolt plug-in biodiesel 1960 Lincoln.)
As for Young’s train collection, he designed a remote control that allows multiple trains to run at once, and a device that delivers realistic railroad audio to help his son get the most of out the hobby.
“It is just relaxing,” Young told David Letterman of his hobby in a 2012 appearance on Letterman’s television talk show.
Highlights of the Dec. 9 auction include the Lionel Hudson factory prototype locomotive with a pre-auction estimate of $4,000 to $9,000, and the H.O.A.R.D tour psychedelic Vanderbilt Hudson locomotive which is expected to sell for $3,000 to $6,000, Julien’s said.
Young, who divorced his wife Pegi in 2014 after a 36-year marriage, said it was time for others to enjoy the items. A portion of the auction proceeds will benefit the Bridge School in California, which Pegi Young co-founded in 1986 for children with severe speech and physical impairments.
“Collecting all of these items has been my great joy. They have provided a source of inspiration, fun and creativity throughout my life,” Young said in a statement.
“Now it is time to share them with others in the world whom I hope will enjoy and love them as much as I have.”
Reporting by Jill Serjeant