Mecum Auction Returned to Kansas City
For three days in early December, tens of thousands of car enthusiasts walked among hundreds of collector cars in the 388,000 square feet of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City. Some came to see what cars and trucks were there. Others came to see what they would sell for. And a few lucky enough with the sizable-enough wallets and checkbooks went home with new toys.
Twice a year, in the spring and fall, father and son team Dana and Frank Mecum bring their auction extravaganza to the Kansas City Convention Center. The December 4-6 event was broadcast on NBCSN.
Of the 382 vehicles sold (totaling $8.25 million in sales), the oldest was a 1922 Ford Model T roadster, and the newest was a 2012 Ford F150 SVT Raptor. Winning bids ranged from a low of $2000 for a 1980 Chevrolet Malibu with just 74,382 original miles to that for a white with blue stripes 2005 Ford GT with a mere 5631 miles. When the hammer fell, the bidding for the supercar had peaked at $290,000, the highest price ever paid for a vehicle at a Mecum auction in Kansas City.
On four other cars, bids rocketed into the lofty, six-figure territory. Bidding reached $100,000 for a 1957 Pontiac Star Chief convertible which had undergone a frame-off, “nut and bolt” restoration, $115,000 for a “Plum Crazy” 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible with a documented original dealer-installed 426 Hemi, $140,000 for a 1970 Dodge Charger with a hemi V8 bored out to 572 cubic inches, and $170,000 for an AACA Senior Award-winning 1967 Shelby GT500 professionally restored by Ray Shimak and autographed by Carroll Shelby. However, all four failed to meet the sellers’ reserves and remained unsold.
There was plenty of transactions taking place in the sub-$100,000 range. A pair of well-executed restomods brought top dollar: a glossy black 1969 Chevrolet Camaro for $94,000, and a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Hemi convertible for $85,000.
Restored vintage Chevrolets remain popular. A “Signet red” 1958 Corvette convertible with both soft and hard tops, a 4-speed transmission, and wide whitewall tires brought $78,000. A 1963 Impala SS convertible with the 409 engine and 4-speed transmission brought $76,000. And a “Daytona blue” 1963 Corvette Sting Ray split-window coupe brought $71,000.
Also in the group of top-dollar-bringing vehicles was a 2004 Corvette convertible extensively customized to look like a 1967 Sting Ray. The hand-fabricated body was part of an 800-hour conversation. The vehicle brought $82,000.
Interesting vehicles available for a little more down-to-earth prices included a 1972 DeTomaso Pantera ($49,500), a 1957 DeSoto Fireflite ($41,000), Indy Pace Car editions of the 1966 Mercury Cyclone GT and 1970 Oldsmobile 442 (each went for $40,000), a 1938 Mercury convertible $38,000, and 1941 Chrysler Windsor convertible once owned by retired Chrysler and GM executive Bob Lutz ($36,500).
Still too much? How about a 1954 Packard convertible, one of only 863 produced, which sold for $23,500. Or a beautiful red 1963 Buick Wildcat convertible, which sold for $18,000. Or a first-year Mercury Cougar XR7 with a 289 V8, which sold for $12,500.
Two standouts catching this writer’s eye justify special mention. A black 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J with a 400 V8, 4-speed manual, Pontiac Rally wheels, and the longest hood ever featured on a standard production car sold with the original owner’s manual and build sheet for $33,500. A blue and black 1929 Hudson Super Six rumble seat coupe, in some ways the same car only forty years earlier, remained unsold at a high bid of $28,500.
Pickups have rapidly gained popularity with collectors in recent years. A 1952 Ford F100 sold for $20,000, a 1957 Chevrolet pickup fresh from a frame-off restoration sold for $31,500, and a 1972 Chevrolet Cheyenne with factory four-wheel-drive for $25,000. Off brands, like a 1982 Jeep Scrambler pickup ($17,500) and a 1960 International Travelall ($33,500) are gaining more attention.
Bargains were still to be had. Seven Mustangs and 14 Corvettes sold for under $10k. That most probably needed a little work is part of the fun of owning a collector car. Or how about 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III ($5500), a 1965 Chevrolet Corvair convertible ($9000), a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda ($7000), or a 1974 Hurst/Olds Pace Car edition ($9500).
The kick-myself, missed opportunity for this writer was a 1965 Chevrolet Malibu convertible with a six-cylinder engine, three-speed manual, and only 27,364 original miles. It sold for a mere ten grand even, an amount I’m sure my wife wouldn’t have divorce me over.
Whether buying, selling, or just seeing what will be your next, kick-yourself, missed opportunity, don’t miss the next Mecum Auction in Kansas City April 23-25, 2015.