GAINESVILLE – At an Atlanta-area auction of one of the nation’s finest private collections of vintage and muscle cars in a converted horse barn on a 450 acre estate, the crowd of onlookers and bidders whooped as the auctioneer said these words for the first time all day: “Do I hear $400,000?”

The seller, Milton Robson – who made his fortune in the institutional foods business and built his collection of rare cars over decades – was hoping to get $350,000 for the one-of-a kind 1960 Chrysler 300F four-speed Convertible with a 413-cubic-inch, 400-horsepower engine, with 13,045 miles on the odometer, according to Access Atlanta.

The Chrysler fetched more than Robson had anticipated -- $397,500.

It had been a tense few weeks coming up to the auction. With the economy in a slough, there was no telling how much people were willing to pay for vintage cars offered for a starting bid as high as $750,000 (a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV Convertible).

Since the auction was without reserve, the cars had to be sold to the highest bidder and could not be withdrawn if the bid was not high enough. And another 10-percent buyer's premium was added to the price struck when the auctioneer banged the gavel and yelled, “Sold!” according to Access Atlanta.

"The thrill of collecting is the hunt," Robson told a reporter as he stood beside a gleaming red 1962 Pontiac Catalina Convertible he called a "driver" -- a car so relatively inexpensive (starting bid $40,000) the top bidder might actually drive it instead of parking it on display under lock and key.

Robinson withheld some of his prize collection from the auction and said he may start collecting again, but only after he sells his estate – also offered in the auction booklet, for $22 million – and moves to Florida. He retired a few years ago after selling his institutional food business.

Robinson said he didn't know if his collection would fetch the kind of prices he was asking, according to Access Atlanta.

The prized beast of the show, the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Convertible, sold for $620,000, as the crowd rose to the occasion after almost four hours of buying, according to Access Atlanta. They whooped and roared with every $10,000 jump in price, as a bidder in the front dueled with a bidder in the back.

Robson said afterward he was "pleased with the results" of selling 55 of his beloved cars. And why not? They fetched an average of about $167,000 each – for a total of $9.2 million.,0