Famed Ron Pratte Classic Car Collection to be Auctioned Off

One of just nine known remaining GM Futurliner buses is among the amazing rides in the Ron Pratte collection to be auctioned off in January.

Heads up, classic car buffs. E3 Sparks Plugs just got word of a great opportunity to drive home an amazing, possibly historic ride. One of the most famous among classic car collectors is auctioning off his entire collection. If you follow the auctions on TV and online, you’ve no doubt seen him – Ron Pratte, they guy who once dropped major cash on 52 vehicles at a single auction in Scottsdale.

Pratte built his fortune, currently estimated at upwards of $350 million, as the founder and former CEO of the Phoenix, AZ-based Pratte Development Company, Inc., one of the nation’s largest wood framing and concrete foundation companies. In what is now realized as a brilliantly shrewd move, Pratte sold the privately held company to Pulte Homes and cashed out of the business shortly before the housing market crashed.

With nothing but time and cash – a whole lot of it – on his hands, Pratte decided he needed a hobby, and chose classic car collecting. Clearly, Pratte possesses something of a go-big-or-go-home personality, and quickly gained fame for his collecting prowess. Among the envied, and sometimes odd, purchases were:

  • A GM Futurliner, one of just 12 Harley Earl-designed buses used in the company’s Parade of Progress, which toured the nation exhibiting new cars and technology. Only nine were still known to exist as of 2007 and Pratte dropped $4.1 million on his;
  • The last of just two 1966 Shelby Cobra Super Snakes, for which Pratte paid a record-breaking $5.5 million. The other one had been owned briefly by comedic actor Bill Cosby, who was so unnerved by its speed and power that he returned it after just one drive and mined the experience for material on his comedy album, 200 M.P.H.;
  • The last Corvette Sting Ray;
  • The first Ford Thunderbird off the assembly line;
  • Woody, the cut-down 1921 Oldsmobile Model 46 Roadster featured in the Beverly Hillbillies TV show;
  • And a 1945 P-51 Mustang military airplane.

But Pratte proved to be as generous as he was eccentric in his collecting. He donated the Tony Stewart race car to the Gwynn Foundation, which used it to raise $165,000 to buy electric wheelchairs for kids with Muscular Dystrophy. And, he paid $500,000 for the 2006 Jeff Gordon Monte Carlo, with proceeds going to the National Marrow Donor Program.

Now, you’ve got a chance to drive one of Pratte’s amazing rides back home to your garage come early 2015. The collection will be auctioned off at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction January 10-18. Will you make a bid? Be sure to post your pics on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.