It’s long been said that Americans have a love of cars unrivaled pretty much worldwide. But, if you still doubt the accuracy of that statement, go to an auto auction. Don’t go to one of those of those police auctions of seized vehicles or bank repos that are being sold for what’s owed on them. No, go to something a bit more substantial and grandiose. Go to a Mecum Auction.
Mecum is one of the premier collector car auction companies in the country (their televised auctions are featured on NBCSN) and one of the largest collector car auctions in the world. They feature everything from everyday “consumer” cars to some of the most elite automobiles ever to grace the American highway. They tour a circuit of cities throughout the year auctioning off automobiles of every variation, as well as what’s known as “road art” (neon signs, gas pumps, etc.), boats and even some of those kiddie rides that used to be outside of seemingly every grocery store you ever went to as a child.
In total, there were 3,023 cars which were put up for auction over the nine-day event, and 2,208 of those “hammer sold.” Now, if my New York public school education hasn’t failed me, that’s about 336 cars crossing the auction block every single day. Some were certainly what might end being “daily drivers” but, for the most part, it was the collector car market which was most well represented and, regardless of your personal taste, there were cars to sate your appetite.
The auction lasts nine days and, to be frank, you would need all nine days to see every car available. Vehicles are moved from Point A to Point B as they get closer to the auction stand and what was in one place yesterday is likely to be in a different place tomorrow. Some of the more special collections of cars, though, have dedicated out-buildings where the cars reside until it’s time for them to go up for auction. These collections feature automobiles which often command top dollar on the auction block – such as a pair of 1969 Camaro ZL1’s, chassis #18 and #30 of the 69 made that year. The pair sold for $1.21 million after some very brisk bidding.
The high-dollar champ, though, was a 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari which crossed the block at staggering $3.41 million. Number two on the list was another Ferrari, a 2016 F12tdf, with a whopping 150 miles on the odometer, that sold for $1.32 million.
And, in case those are too rich for your blood (after all, what would you do with two Ferraris?), there were also cars with a more attainable selling price, such as a low-mileage Mini Cooper which sold for just over four grand. So you see, there really is something for everyone at Mecum.
In total, the auction saw over $96 million in sales, which represents a $10 million increase from last year’s Kissimmee auction.
Sometimes, though, the bidding can jump to astronomical levels and a car might still not sell. This is because sellers often set what’s known as a “reserve price,” which is the lowest amount they will accept for a car. Such was the case with a 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra. Replicas of this car can sell for well into six figures, but an original? It’s like finding a unicorn. In this case, the unicorn rolled off the auction floor with a top bid of $1,050,000. As impressive an amount of money as that is, it failed to reach the $1.25 million reserve price set for the car.
The nice thing about Mecum is that you don’t have to be a bidder to get caught up in the excitement. In fact, far more people attend a Mecum auction just to see the cars than to bid on them. Once upon a time, many of these were just considered used cars or old cars. But it’s that automotive love affair which commands an appreciation for the artistry of creating a beautiful automobile, whether it be all original, a restoration or a “resto-mod.”
Not only is the auction going on, but there are also vendors selling any manner of souvenirs, a wide variety of food choices, and live entertainment including bands and a celebrity chef cook-off. It’s actually a bit more like a festival than an auction.
But, of course, in a scenario which repeated itself over 300 times each day, there’s nothing quite like sitting in the main auction hall, watching a car come across the floor and listening to the bid-takers yell out loud as they accept each new bid, with the entire process ending with the auctioneer smacking the hammer down and shouting “SOLD!”
Heck, you might even start to think you’re on television.