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Oklahoma Department of Central Services auctions off classic auto seized in drug raid



Classic car lovers, an opportunity awaits. Browsing through the state of Oklahoma's auction Web site, several items are up for grabs. But one item in particular will have admirers of vintage automobiles double-checking their bank accounts.

The state has put a 1964 Ford Thunderbird Coupe up for sale that looks as new as the day it came out of the factory, with a shine to make any car salesman envious.

"She's sweet, and I'm not a big car person," said Gerry Ann Smedley, public information officer for the Oklahoma Department of Central Services, which handles the auction. "They've (department employees) been heading over there to check it out."

Being kept at the central services warehouse near Reno and May avenues, the classic car comes with a 300-horsepowered, eight-cylinder engine and 86,004 miles on the odometer.

The obvious question is how in the world did the state government come across a car such as this? A drug raid, of course. The vehicle was seized by the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs two years ago.

"That was part of an investigation we worked with several agencies," bureau spokesman Mark Woodward said. "It was a large drug trafficking case. It mainly involved cocaine and marijuana. This (car) was on a trailer. We did a traffic stop on the vehicle, which was part of our investigation. It was not a routine traffic stop, and just found drugs in the car."

When property is seized by OBN, the owner has 45 days to dispute the issue with the state. Woodward said the car had been in the bureau's possession for two years, and the owner never fought to reclaim it. As with any other seized item that remains in the bureau's possession, the auto was placed in the state's surplus inventory and marked for auction.

But so far, no one has been interested in buying the vintage vehicle. Twice, the car has been put up for bid on the state's online auction Web site. But neither time has a bid been placed. The opening bid is set at $11,800. The car is now up for a third time, with the deadline to purchase the T-bird set for this afternoon.

While such a treasured item might seem unusual for the state to auction off, Woodward said drug agents hardly flinch at what they find during a raid.

"You get the gamut in drug seizures," he said. "We got a Hummer last year and a Cadillac Escalade. And then you get the Ford Pinto that's broken down in the front yard."

The money generated from the sale will go back to the bureau and other agencies which helped in the investigation. Proceeds from most auctioned state surplus items, whether sold online or once a month at the warehouse's public auction, go into the surplus property program.

"Agencies, by law, cannot throw anything away," Smedley said. "Even the smallest item, you just put into a box and send them over."  "Scott Cooper


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