John Kruse with “A-Team” van

John Kruse of Worldwide Auctioneers shows the “A-Team” van that will be sold to the highest bidder Saturday in an auction at Kruse Plaza.

AUBURN — Live audience members will be few, but watching Saturday’s Worldwide Auctioneers collection online should be better than ever.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our rollout of Worldwide TV,” auctioneer John Kruse of Worldwide said.

Worldwide TV’s upgraded livestream is “something we wanted to do way before COVID-19. It’s great that it’s coming to fruition, and it will be a lot of fun,” Kruse said.

The sale at Kruse Plaza in Auburn will be 2,000 miles from where it was supposed to take place in Arizona. That state’s restriction on event crowd sizes forced a change of plans.

“Every time I say it, it’s kind of funny, but this is the Scottsdale auction in Auburn, Indiana,” Kruse said.

Online coverage of the auction at begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m., with the first bids at 1 p.m. The sale is expected to conclude around 4:30 p.m.

Kayla Blakeslee, morning host for WOWO radio of Fort Wayne, will anchor the Worldwide TV coverage. Kruse describes her as “fun and articulate.”

Commentary will come from Travis Lavine, manager of his family’s Lavine Restorations shop in Nappanee, which has restored multiple “best of show” winners in Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club judging at Auburn.

“He’s probably the most advanced young restorer out there. … His knowledge is immense for his age,” Kruse said about Lavine.

“It’s going to be incredible…. I know it will be fun, and I hope everybody likes it,” Kruse said about the livestream, which is free of charge.

Kruse expects 60% of the sale’s bidders to use their phones, with 30% online and 10% in person at Kruse Plaza. For those who attend in person, the site will use temperature checks, social distancing and sanitizing.

Thursday was the official day to inspect the auction’s 71 cars on-site, but several potential buyers have traveled to Auburn over the past six weeks to look at cars in person, Kruse said.

Kruse expects people will be eager to bid, with so many car auctions around the country canceled or postponed. Barrett-Jackson has postponed its giant auction at Scottsdale to the week of March 22.

“Since there haven’t been nearly as many events, live or online, by my estimation there’s probably 20,000-plus cars that have not sold at auction that normally would have in the last year,” Kruse said.

“The experiences we have with these collector cars are more valuable than ever,” he said. “People still can take a drive in a collector car as a safe, fun experience.”

For Kruse, the most fun entry in Saturday’s sale is a 1979 Chevy van from the “A-Team” television series, complete with a replica machine gun in the back.

“An ‘A-Team’ van has never been sold publicly, and it may turn out to be a bigger deal than we thought,” Kruse said. The van is one of six officially licensed vehicles built to tour North America promoting the show.

“It’s certainly a pop icon. We have people from all over the world that are interested in it. … Since one hasn’t sold, nobody really knows what it’s worth, including me,” Kruse said.

The van is selling at no reserve to the highest bidder, and whatever price it brings will benefit the new Career Coaching Academy based at Kruse Plaza. Kruse said the academy has enrolled students from all over the northeast Indiana area, 18 states and overseas.

“The sale of this A-Team van is going to provide a lot of neat scholarship opportunities for career coaching. We’re coaching students to a fulfilling career,” Kruse said.

The van has been on display in the building’s former Kruse automotive museum for 16-17 years. Kruse said an anonymous benefactor donated it to be sold to benefit the academy.

“It’ll be sad to see it go,” Kruse said about the van, “but knowing the funds are going to be used for coaching kids around our community … we’re excited about what those funds are going to be used for.”

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