Recently I attended the Motor Press Guild’s “Day at the Auction” – a Press briefing and guided tour of the Mecum Anaheim 2015 Classic And Collector Car Auction. Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum Auctions, and John Kraman, the company’s Director of Consignment, hosted this event and spoke to us.
Billed as “the world leader of collector car, vintage and antique motorcycle, and Road Art sales,” “Mecum Auctions is the largest collection car auction company in the world by volume.” They also hold four antique tractor auctions. Established by Dana Mecum in 1988, this family-run company is “now offering more than 15,000 vehicles per year.”
Mecum hosts auctions throughout the United States. Their Kissimmee, Florida auction, held annually in January, “is the world’s largest collector car auction.”
This Mecum auction has been held each year since 2012. Situated in Anaheim, midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, it draws buyers from throughout Southern California.
T.V. – first on Discovery’s Velocity channel, and now, since 2014, on NBC and NBC Sports – has helped Mecum build their auction business. Their viewership is up almost 600%. Not surprisingly, that has led many viewers to have an interest in attending Mecum collector car auctions. Having more people in attendance has led to more buyers, which, in turn, has led to increased sales – and prices. The T.V. coverage is especially exciting when several buyers with big egos and deep pockets decide that they want the same car.
Everything is sold “as is,” “where is.” That being said, they do several things that give buyers confidence in what they are bidding on. For example, when the cars arrive at the auction, retired state police officers (who travel with the auction from city to city) look at the titles and the VIN numbers to try to make sure that the cars are legitimate and not pieced together or stolen. Of the approximately 850 cars at Anaheim, they rejected around three. They tell the buyers of suspect cars that if the car is stolen, the police will confiscate it. That usually results in the car going back onto its trailer with no questions asked.
The cars to be auctioned tend to be found two ways. Mecum meets with significant collectors with big collections and important cars. They call these “seed cars” and use them as headliner cars. In Kissimmee, Florida they want to have 10 to 30 spectacular cars, because those will be used to market that event. Mecum travels the country looking for these. The rest of the cars – probably 90% of their business – come from inbound calling.
The collector car auction business is changing. Now, as opposed to putting all of their effort into getting cars, Mecum spends as much as, if not more effort getting bidders to come to the events. Lifestyle midways are used to attract not only prospective buyers, but also their spouses and kids. That way everybody has something that they can be doing.
So, was the auction successful? I would say so! For the three days (Nov. 12 to 14), sales totaled a whopping $13,853,225. 416 vehicles were “hammered” SOLD. The top ten sales included muscle cars, Ferraris, a 50’s classic, a Corvette, a Resto Mod, a modern-day supercar, high-end luxury cars and more. The highest seller was a Ford GT – a personal favorite of mine, and a car that perhaps I should have tried to buy as an investment when Ford offered them for sale. At auction this one sold for $275,000. If memory serves me correctly, that is about $100,000 more than they sold for when new.
How would you like a pristine, body-off restoration, ’57 T-Bird? It went for $185,000.
What about a muscle car? A ’69 Mustang Boss 429 Fastback sold at this auction for $170,000. Should I hang on to my nicely optioned, ridiculously low mileage 2011 Mustang GT.? Well, considering that mine is four years old already, I’d only have to stick around for another 42 years or so. I’d be over 100 by then.
At the Kissimmee, Florida auction, expect to see some prices in the millions.
On the other end of the spectrum, a ’97 Jaguar XJR sold for only $2,500. Also auctioned was “road art” (collectible automotive memorabilia).
For more information on this and future auctions, visit Mecum.com, and please write to AutoMatters@gmail.com with your comments and suggestions.
Copyright © 2015 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #413