Murray King’s cabinet making business took him from one coast of Canada to the other, and rather than return to Spruce Grove, Alberta, with empty trailers, King began filling them up with interesting and derelict cars he found in his travels. Before long, his focus shifted from woodworking to metal working, and Kustom King automotive restorations was born. Now, after four decades of buying cars, King will sell the 550 cars in his collection (combined with another 87 cars from A-Riverside, his neighbor’s business) in a two-day auction set to begin on Saturday, August 16.
Most auctions of this scope focus on a single brand, but King’s collection is far more diverse than that. Chevrolets make up the largest percentage of his collection, with 141 Bowties from 1932 through 1977 set to cross the block, but Ford isn’t too far behind. The blue oval brand is represented by 106 vehicles, dating from 1928 through 1969, and other makes include Pontiac (70 cars, from 1937-’72), Buick (50 cars, from 1941-’72), Mercury (39 cars, from 1950-’68), Oldsmobile (36 cars, from 1935-’70), Cadillac (24 cars, from 1951-’64), Lincoln (15 cars, from 1954-’62), Dodge (14 cars, from 1937-’74), Chrysler (12 cars, from 1941-’62), Plymouth (11 cars, from 1932-’73), and GMC (four trucks, from 1941-’81).
Lumped into an “Other” category are brands like Essex, Fiat, De Soto, Packard, Fargo, REO, Willys, Hillman, Studebaker, Austin, Morris, Nash, Rambler, Mercedes and Nissan. Though this phrase is used a bit too much, the Kustom King sale really will offer something for everyone.
And then there’s the inventory of A-Riverside Auto Enterprises, located across the road from Kustom King. Though focused primarily on trucks, the 87 offerings from A-Riverside will also include both domestic and foreign automobiles from the 1940s through 2001. Still, truck collectors will want to take heed, as the lots are set to include everything from a 1929 Standard REO SpeedWagon Coca-Cola delivery truck through a 1997 GMC 3500HD, with a wide variety of heavy-duty inventory to choose from.
Though Kustom King is selling off its used car inventory, the shop (which specializes in restorations and custom builds) isn’t going away. In fact, King advises that with Alberta’s current oil boom, business has never been better, as mechanics from the oil fields have plenty of discretionary income to spend on custom cars.
Though the shop once built rods and customs to sell at auctions in the United States, back when the street rod market was strong and the Canadian dollar was weak, the days of building cars on speculation are over. As King put it, “There’s too much risk and too little profit” in trying to anticipate what buyers will fight over at auction.
1969 Ford Mustang convertible.
Kustom King also houses So-Cal Speed Shop Canada, as King cut a deal with Pete Chapouris in 2008 to become the exclusive Canadian distributor for So-Cal Speed Shop products. Ultimately, that means the 550 cars on his 5.5-acre property are more of a distraction than a necessity because King doesn’t part them out to the general public. Now that he’s past the seven decade mark in age, King has also come to the realization that he won’t live long enough to see them all restored.
1972 Plymouth Duster 1973 Dodge Dart Sport 340.
When asked, “Why sell the collection now?” King’s response was understandable. “I paid $35,000 for this property 35 years ago,” he said, “and I’ve been offered $1.3 million for a portion of it. The question isn’t ‘Why would I sell?’ but rather ‘why wouldn’t I sell?’”
1929 REO SpeedWagon. Photo courtesy Sekura Auctions.
As for any inventory that remains after the sale, King isn’t concerned. The city of Spruce Grove isn’t pressuring him to pare down his collection (which, King advises, undergoes environmental testing every few years), and even after selling off a portion of his land, King will still have three acres to house the inventory that doesn’t sell at auction.
1952 International cement truck. Photo courtesy Sekura Auctions.
A-Riverside is in a similar pressure-free position, but is taking advantage of the Kustom King sale to reduce its own inventory. As Sekura Auction’s Andrew Reeleder explained, “Ron Stropel (owner of A-Riverside) has always focused on trucks, while Murray King has focused on cars. When the Kustom King auction was announced, it just made sense for A-Riverside to capitalize on shared marketing and a shared auction venue.”