July 21, 2024


Travel Finishes First

Tom Hanks sells 4 vehicles from his private collection; sale fetches more than a half-million dollar

CARMEL, CALIFORNIA: In an acting career spanning four decades and dozens of roles, Tom Hanks has never starred as a used-car salesman. But last week, he had a convincing turn as one, selling off four vehicles from his private collection at a Bonhams classic car auction.

The autos that Hanks put on the block, and that he had kept at his backwoods ranch in Ketchum, Idaho, fetched more than a half-million dollars, at least twice as much as expected.

The centerpiece was a unique Airstream 34-foot travel trailer from the 1992 model year, bought new in the days before Airstreams would become wildly popular in all shapes and sizes. The sales price was $235,000, including buyer premiums, especially notable since the Airstream was not lavishly equipped as a new one that size would be.

“I got it in the days when movies moved slower,” Hanks said before the auction when he was preparing it for the auctioneer.

“Sleepless in Seattle” was filming at the time. “I had spent too much time in regular trailers with ugly décor and horribly uncomfortable furniture, so I decided to buy a brand-new Airstream — just an empty shell with an interior made to my own request,” Hanks said. He had kitchen and bathroom equipment put in, but he swapped in furniture whenever it was needed for places to sit, eat, rehearse and carry on with fellow actors.

Hanks told a story from the filming of “Apollo 13,” when he, Ed Harris, Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon, dressed as astronauts, drove to visit a notable gravesite. Buster Keaton, he said, did not respond.

Tom Hanks's Airstream 34-foot travel trailer.New York Times

Tom Hanks’s Airstream 34-foot travel trailer.

The Airstream has traveled from Seattle to Beaufort, South Carolina (for “Forrest Gump”), with stops in Philadelphia (yep, “Philadelphia”) and New York City (“Sully”) — and plenty of treks to the Los Angeles area.

The marketing material from Bonhams gave the lowdown: “It comes complete with all its accessories and furniture including dishes, glasses, several espresso makers, some kitchen equipment and the pictured comfortable teakwood chairs and table.” A generator, propane tanks and more were included. To increase its sentimental value, Hanks autographed one of the air-conditioners — a presumably rare collectible item.

“You haven’t lived well until you survive a movie-stopping thunderstorm in an Airstream while on location in the Carolinas, or someplace similar,” Hanks said. “But, more than anything, an Airstream is gorgeous and cozy, which is why everyone who visited mine went away wanting one.”

How much one the same size, the same year or even same equipment level might have sold for in ordinary channels is unknown. Asked this question, an auction official shrugged and said, “Maybe half?”

For the benefit of the Airstream’s buyer, Hanks also unloaded a brawny 2011 Ford F-450 Super Duty crew cab pickup in a Lariat trim package. Kelley Blue Book says a decade-old model like that should probably sell for under $40,000. The buyer of Hanks’ towing package paid more than $84,000 despite its rather ordinary outfitting.

Tom Hanks's 1980 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser.New York Times

Tom Hanks’s 1980 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser.

Hanks, who said he was an enthusiastic early adopter of electric vehicles, sold off his original 2015 Tesla Model S, in a high-performance configuration known as P85, for a little more than $67,000. Kelley pegs its regular market value at $41,700. Hanks couldn’t really explain why it was painted British Racing Green like a gas-powered English-made Jaguar.

Perhaps the most nostalgic sale from the actor’s collection was his Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser, which is more than 40 years old but was completely rebuilt by a former movie actor who now runs Icon 4×4, which makes utility vehicles in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. The FJ40 was once a rather forgotten classic that only a handful of Toyota collectors held dear. Now, Toyota’s rarest classics, as well as a number of other Japanese-built cars, have become auction darlings.

Hanks’ 1980 hardtop sold for $122,000. Hagerty auto insurance said its value guide would list a “#1 Concours” level comparable at $72,000 — a huge difference. Just an average one, if among the handful of stock versions still in existence, would sell for better than $20,000. New, back in the day, it might have cost a quarter of that.

“I’ll miss it,” Hanks said. “But maybe I have some other ideas ahead.”