Mecum Monterey 2014 – Auction Report

When Mecum Auctions announced early in 2009 that they’d be joining the annual auctions crush at Monterey they put themselves in the cross-hairs of the most intense, demanding week on the annual auctions calendar.

The other Monterey auctions – RM, Gooding, Bonhams and Russo and Steele – had made Monterey their premier events, selling million dollar cars with seeming ease and racking up multi-million dollar sale totals. A list of the top sales in Monterey since 2009 shows the Monterey mindset: Cobra Daytona Coupe; Alfa 8C 2300 Monza; Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa; Mercedes 540K; Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider and this year the king of them all, Ferrari 250 GTO.

It was this intense focus on headline-making million-dollar cars that created the niche Mecum exploited. Other than at Russo and Steele anyone wanting to sell a moderately priced five-figure car had to plead for a spot on a crowded docket, a spot often secured by accepting a No Reserve consignment. Buyers in the same range had to wait through hours of high-profile cars in crowded marquees across the Peninsula and comply with stringent buyers’ qualifications.

Mecum ended that while also creating another car event on the Peninsula with free (but this year with an admission fee) access to a field of hundreds of interesting cars – in 2014 to all intents and purposes half of the total number of consignments offered at all the Monterey auctions. From $14.2 million in 2009 Mecum’s momentum built to the point it has been for the past three years consistently a $30+ million sale, topping out this year with $33,709,510 in total sales, not including motorcycles, a vehicle class which Mecum has successfully added in recent years.

The 2014 sale rate, 54.7% with 334 of 611 cars offered was 3.9 points and 7.5% better than 2013 and, significantly, Mecum had six cars sell on hammer bids of $1 million or more.

It’s exciting, has live TV coverage – the only Monterey auction to do so – and true to its positioning as ‘The Daytime Auction’, manages a daily run that ends in time for a leisurely dinner or quick trip to take in one of the other Monterey auctions taking place in the evenings. Mecum’s positioning has been astutely managed, its execution is essentially flawless and the diversity of the consignments is unmatched in Monterey.

Here is the recent history for Mecum Monterey:

Mecum Monterey
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
Chg from prior year
611 / 334
720 / 366
599 / 348
743 / 444
428 / 208
234 / 104

[Andrew Newton assisted in the on-site observations of the cars at Mecum Monterey and with photography. Comments are, as always, the responsibility of the Editor.]

Mecum Auctions Monterey 2014 – Auction Report

Thursday Cars

1936 DeSoto Airflow 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # T036 1936 DeSoto Airflow 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 5091025; Grey/Grey cloth; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $15,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $16,200. – 242/100hp, 3-speed with overdrive, BF Goodrich Silvertown wide whitewalls, suicide rear doors, goddess radiator mascot, dual mirrors, rear fender skirts, wood steering wheel, locking glovebox. – Tired paint that was amateurish to begin with. Has orange peel, overspray, etc. Decent chrome and interior. Used underneath. Lumpy, wavy bodywork. Shut lines are bad. Big crack in rear quarter window. Shabby from top to bottom. – A scruffy example of a largely overlooked but significant design. It’s difficult to support the price it brought even as rare as it is in this condition.
1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Coupe
Lot # T037 1981 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Coupe; S/N 1G1AP87L68L168539; Storm Trooper White, , Black side striped and hood stinger/Black vinyl piped in White; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $13,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $14,040. – 350, automatic, ram air, General tires, rear spoiler, chin spoiler, P/S, P/B, Delco cassette radio. – Paint is rough on stinger/hood bulge. Very good paint and interior overall. Tidy engine bay and undercarriage. Cracking weather stripping. Small bubbles in paint on spoiler. Considering that most are beat up, tired and abused, this is a remarkably preserved car. – But even well-preserved, this is all it’s worth.
1988 BMW M5 Sedan
Lot # T057 1988 BMW M5 Sedan; S/N WBSDC9305J2791004; Black/Tan leather; Unrestored original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $18,500 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $19,980. – 3.5, 5-speed, BBS RS wheels, Bridgestone Potenza tires, sunroof, rear spoiler, tinted glass, P/W, factory CD player, heated seats. – Pretty worn out seats. Strong paint. Certainly looks used, but much less used than the 170,676 miles showing on the odometer would suggest. Claimed to be the first North American-spec M5 sold. Owned and maintained by a BMW dealer until 2007, and therefore quite well cared for. – Driven to within an inch of its life, a well-maintained used car. Even with the consistent maintenance by the BMW dealer/owner this M5 is reaching the end of the life expectancy of many of its components and is marginal at this price.
1991 Lotus Esprit Jim Clark Edition Coupe
Lot # T081 1991 Lotus Esprit Jim Clark Edition Coupe; S/N SCCFC20BXMHF60194; Green, , Yellow/Tan leather; Unrestored original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $18,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $19,440. – 2.2, turbocharger and intercooler, 5-speed, heavy duty sway bars, adjustable coilovers, Dunlop tires, removable roof, rear wing, P/W, Alpine CD player, locking glovebox. – Pilot Prototype for the Jim Clark Indy 500 Victory Edition. First of 20 cars. Good overall paint and interior, but painter’s tape under the removable roof is a bit unsettling. Condition generally reflects the 37,038 miles on the odometer, and for an Esprit it’s quite good. – For this car’s history and condition this price is modest and should prove to be satisfying for the new owner.
1976 BMW 2002 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # T089 1976 BMW 2002 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 2743908; Red/Black vinyl with black cloth inserts; Modified restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $12,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $12,960. – 1600 engine, single Weber carb, K&N filter, 4-speed, factory alloy wheels, Michelin tires, A/C, modern stereo. – Dull paint. Huge crack in front bumper. Both bumpers are terribly scratched up. Dirty wheels. Rear BMW badge looks like it’s been dragged across the street. Very used but relatively tidy underneath. Base model 2002 that’s been lightly modified. A very rough example, but could be fun to fool around with if it could be had for cheap. – A mixed up car of little value, offered at Auctions America’s Spring Auburn sale with a reported high bid of $10,000, then sold at Mecum Indy a week later for $12,960, exactly the same result it brought here. Call it ‘market value’ but not much of a value.
1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 Veloce Spider, Body by Pininfarina
Lot # T104 1974 Alfa Romeo 2000 Veloce Spider, Body by Pininfarina; S/N AR3045858; Avorio/Brown leather; Black cloth top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $16,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $17,280. – 1962/129hp, SPICA mechanical fuel injection, 5-speed, Campagnolo wheels, Sumitumo tires, wood-rimmed steering wheel. – 3 owner car. Recent suspension rebuild and major service. Recent top end rebuild on the engine. One repaint in Avorio (ivory). Original interior and wheels. Tidy engine. Very good interior. Chrome is a little bit tired. A pretty driver with clean and good history. – Bought right, especially after the suspension rebuild to keep its sprightly Alfa handling fresh and crisp.
1957 BMW-Isetta 300 Coupe
Lot # T144 1957 BMW-Isetta 300 Coupe; S/N 500812; Yellow, , White/White leather with grey cloth inserts; Grey vinyl top; Older restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $26,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $28,080. – 298/13hp, 4-speed, Heng Shin tires, sunroof, luggage rack and trunk. – Decent paint with several dings. Tired chrome. Good interior. US-model car. An older restoration that someone has had some fun with, but still very presentable if far from perfect. – A usable and presentable Isetta for under $30K is, by definition, a sound value. This car sold at Mecum’s Houston auction in April for $21,060, a modest profit even after transport and commissions sufficient to pay the consignor’s Monterey week travel expenses.
1976 Porsche 914 Targa
Lot # T148 1976 Porsche 914 Targa; S/N 4762904033; White, , Black roof/Black vinyl; Enthusiast restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $14,500 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $15,660. – 2.0, 5-speed, Ironman tires, dash clock, Blaupunkt cassette stereo. – Late 914. One of the last affordable ways to get into either a classic or a Porsche. Good paint and plastic. Very good interior. Used but tidy underneath. Good gaps. Decent, lightly dinged up wheels. Claimed to have been heavily restored, but the work was of average quality. – Sold for $17,050 at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale in 2012, the result here at Mecum Monterey on Thursday is a realistic marker of its current value. A great starter car, or as noted an affordable way to play around with 356s and 911s.

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Show Comments (3)

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  1. Lot #F105, “Phase 2 Austin-Healey” shows the front shroud light configuration and door handles of a Phase 1 car, although the VIN is given as HBJ8L/27836, a Phase 2 number. Mecum description says it’s a Kurt Tanner restoration to highest Concours standards, but how can that be if the VIN does not match the features of the car? The paint, too, while beautiful, is not an original color and would therefore lose points in Concours.

  2. Rick, I believe that any restorer worth his salt should use a favorable estimate of his work by your column as advertising. Your commentary and evaluations are free of the usual frippery done by writers not wanting to abrade the owner ego. Therefore, I will steer clear of having any of my cars evaluated. I already know the flaws. 🙂