Mecum Des Moines 2011 – Auction Report

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

Mecum in the Middle (Middle America, That Is, i.e., Des Moines, Iowa, July 15-16, 2011)

First, let’s be clear: there aren’t many “sports cars” in the Mecum Des Moines auction, but this is Middle America (about 300 miles east northeast of the geographic center of the coterminous United States, in fact) where pickup trucks and muscle cars predominate.

This sale is typical of many similar smaller regional auctions with a small number of headline cars and many more reasonably priced cars coming from regional individuals, dealers and shops. It’s the start of a process that sometimes ends at Monterey, Scottsdale, Auburn or Indianapolis. Sales like Des Moines are important – essential, really – parts of the collector car hobby and market.

In this case the sale did well, selling 289 of the 437 cars offered, 66.1%, and ending the two-day sale with $5,515,715 in total transactions, an average of $19,086 and a median of $15,370. The organization was impressive, with Mecum’s full auction arena set up, the TV cameras in place and staff on hand even though the sale was only two days’ duration. There was no corner-cutting going on. The venue, the Iowa State Fair’s “Varied Industries” arena, was clean, recent and air conditioned.

The steak at Jesse’s Embers restaurant (3301 Ingersoll Avenue) was excellent. The cars were pretty good too, especially the pickup trucks.

Mecum Des Moines 2011 – Auction Report

(See Reference – Auctions Explained, A Note on Conditions and Character).

1928 Buick Master 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # F118 1928 Buick Master 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 2080597; Green, Black/Grey cloth; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $10,250 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $10,865 -- Rollup quarter and rear window shades, windshield visor, rollup quarter windows, no heater but controls for one on dashboard, single rear spare, wood spoke wheels, whitewall tires, smoker's kit, robe rail, footrest. Quick old repaint on an otherwise solid original car. Usable original interior with some pulled seam stitching but no tears or significant moth damage. Interior wood door garnishes are sound and will refinish easily. A promising project car. No Reserve. One of several cars brought to Des Moines this week from Colorado's high desert, a sound and usable old car that will be a straightforward restoration project. The price makes sense for both sides.
1967 Buick Skylark Convertible
Lot # F198.1 1967 Buick Skylark Convertible; S/N 44677Z105172; Midnight Blue/Brown velour; White vinyl top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $9,200 plus commission of 5.43%; Final Price $9,700 -- 2-barrel V8, automatic, P/S, P/B, Magnum wheels, narrow whitewalls, skirts, radio. Poor repaint, good chrome, fair upholstery, dirty original engine, chassis and underbody. Sound, straight body. A decent car that has potential and a reasonable weekend driver. There is a balance between too much restoration and not enough. This Buick falls on the not enough side, but the new owner has plenty of ways to improve it with modest effort and reasonable expense. The velour interior is exceptionally Sixties and remarkably ugly.
1956 Cadillac Sixty Special 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # S090 1956 Cadillac Sixty Special 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 5660023592; Light Blue/Blue vinyl, Grey cloth; Cosmetic restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $20,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $21,200 -- Automatic, Autronic Eye, pushbutton radio, P/W, A/C, wheel covers, whitewalls, remote outside mirror, skirts, power antenna, P/S, P/B. oil filter. Orange peely repaint, good interior with original trim panels. Pitted window post chrome, rear fender turn and bumper. Good front bumper and grille. Badly cracked steering wheel rim. Door jambs and posts not repainted. Overspray on door gaskets. Engine thoroughly and correctly done but chassis neglected. This is more money than car. Much more money than car.
1951 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup
Lot # F109 1951 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup; S/N 3JPD14776; Red/Dark Red leatherette; Truck restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $17,250 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $18,285 -- 5-window cab, turn signals, pushbutton radio, dummy spotlights, windshield visor, hubcaps, black steel wheels, oak bed floor, stainless bed strips, chrome bumpers, chrome grille, headlight eyelashes, heater. Mediocre truck restoration with dusty paint, overspray on frame, good interior, working radio, good chrome. This disappointing Chevy was reported bid to $18,000 Indy in May and fortunate to attract this much in Des Moines. The new owner got no bargain even this price.
1950 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup
Lot # F151 1950 Chevrolet 3100 Pickup; S/N 21HPG11896; Bright Red, Beige coachlines/Grey leatherette; Truck restoration, 2- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $27,000 -- Chrome bumpers and grille, fog lights, hubcaps, trim rings, whitewalls, 5-window cab, heater, no radio, oak bed floor, stainless bed strips, 3-speed. Excellent paint, chrome and interior. Frame painted assembled and now dusty, with some body paint overspray. Painted coachlines. Sound body. 54,224 miles. Looks better than it is, but looks real good. This is a nice truck. It must have been a lot better at Indy in 2008 when it sold for $35,310 but it is a better truck than the $20,140 it was bid to at Indy in May of this year. At this bid it could have been sold with little regret except for an excess of enthusiasm three years ago.
1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # F157 1958 Chevrolet Bel Air Impala 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N F58B173852; Engine # T1115H; Black/Silver vinyl, Black cloth; Older restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $23,750 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $25,175 -- 348/250hp, Turboglide, P/B, P/S, chrome reversed wheels, baby Moons, whitewalls, dummy spotlights, skirts, dual rear antennas, radio. Filled rear quarters with blisters on left side. Blistered went window posts, otherwise good chrome. Rust below rear window. Grimy underhood. A competent old restoration now showing age and use and coming apart. Some remedial body work, a bit of attention to the chrome and a lot of solvents (mostly of the elbow grease kind) will do wonders for this Impala. The price reflects what it is, what it needs and what it could be.
1962 Chevrolet Biscayne 2-Dr. Sedan
Lot # S097 1962 Chevrolet Biscayne 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N 21111A108973; Black/Red vinyl, cloth; Recent restoration, 2- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $43,000 -- 409/409hp, dual quads, 4-speed, heater, no radio, column-mounted tach, black wheels, hubcaps, redline 7.75-14 tires, chrome air cleaner and value covers, not even a dimming mirror. Good paint, interior, chrome and aluminum trim. Chassis thickly painted over everything with gloss black. Redone as it came from the factory with skinny tires. Not as good as it night have been but plenty good enough for cruise night. Nowhere in this Biscayne's presentation was there anything even remotely representing it as an original 409/409. Nicely presented and nearly in showroom condition, it would be a charming weekend cruiser with all the right stuff for a Sixties' street racer but without history it's generously bid at this result. Rubes were distinctly lacking in Des Moines.
1967 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
Lot # F135 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible; S/N 124677L149917; Engine # V0321ME; Red/Black vinyl; White vinyl top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $26,250 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $27,825 -- 327/210hp 2-barrel, Powerglide, Rally wheels with trim rings, new Radial T/A tires, no P/S or P/B. Good new paint and carpets, engine cleaned up and repainted along with some of the engine compartment. Otherwise a clean original car with a tear on the driver's seat cushion. Uninspiring but surprising that it has survived given its mediocrity. At Mecum's Indy sale two months ago this "un-loaded" Camaro sold on Tuesday for just $13,780. The seller here polished and dusted it while pointing out it had original paint on the cowl and door jambs (not usually a sign of a thoughtfully restored, even cosmetically, car.) Its result is a home run, not just in terms of its acquisition price but also intrinsically. This is a boring car, only a little less boring than one with a stovebolt six, and this is a trend-setting price.
1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28
Lot # F155 1978 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 1Q87L8L507557; Silver-Grey/Dark Red vinyl; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $10,000 plus commission of 5.00%; Final Price $10,500 -- 350/175hp, 4-speed, cassette stereo, 5-spoke steel wheels, P/S, P/B. Good repaint, soiled steering wheel, good interior. Taped hood stripes. Clean engine and chassis. Attractively redone and maintained showing some age and use. This smog-strangled Z/28 was reported bid to $10,500 at Mecum's Indy sale two months ago. The seller got real here and snapped up real money. It's hard to get excited about a 175hp Z/28, even if it is "net" horsepower, especially when the Camaro itself is big and heavy. This should be a satisfied seller.
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Convertible
Lot # S079 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Convertible; S/N 136670B127283; Black, White stripes/Black vinyl; Black vinyl top; Older restoration, 2- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $67,500 -- 396/350hp, 4-speed, P/S, P/B, AM-FM, working cowl induction hood, Rally 2 wheels, Firestone Wide Oval F70-14 tires, bench front seat. Good paint, chrome and interior. An older restoration to showroom condition and very pretty. It's not surprising this L34-powered Chevelle SS didn't sell. It's worth $30,000 more (if it's real.)
1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Convertible
Lot # S118 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 Convertible; S/N 138676K174614; Engine # 6K174614 T0321EDH; Red/Red vinyl; White vinyl top; Recent restoration, 2 condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $67,000 -- 396/360hp, 4-speed, buckets and console with clock, engine gauges, pushbutton radio, Rally wheels with trim rings, red line Firestone tires, P/B. Documented with Protect-o-Plate. 78,497 miles from new. No P/S. Excellent new paint, chrome and interior. Chassis done like new as is the engine compartment. Some interior details like the inside door handles and window cranks overlooked but they are easily fixed at minor expense. Otherwise a thoroughly done Chevelle. Not particularly rare, but particularly choice, this L34 Chevelle was bid to $58,500 at Mecum's Indy sale two months ago. Its documentation is good, and its equipment is above reproach, as is the presentation. It could have been bid higher here, but the seller risks it becoming shopworn in search of just the right place and time. $70,000 or so would be enough.
1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
Lot # S144 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 138176F123035; Engine # T0223ED 6F123035; Black; Black vinyl roof/Black vinyl; Recent restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $28,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $29,680 -- 396/325hp, power front disc brakes added, 4-speed, buckets and console, underdash tach, console clock, gauges, five spoke wheel covers, redline tires, cassette stereo. Restored like new. This was a very sharp car with desirable options and the front disc brakes don't detract from its value. The new owner got a choice weekend cruiser for a reasonable price even without a Protect-o-Plate or build sheet.
1972 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
Lot # S100 1972 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible; S/N 1Z67K2S516013; Mylar Blue/Blue vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $23,250 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $24,645 -- 350/200hp, 4-speed, AM-FM, Rally wheels, Goodyear Wide Tread GT F70-15 tires, P/S, P/B, AM-FM, two tops. Good repaint, interior and chrome. Chassis repainted over old undercoat. Good fits, even gaps. Reported sold at Barrett-Jackson in January for $44,000, this is about the right car for the money it brought here in Des Moines.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
Lot # S107 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster; S/N 30867S120724; Engine # 10622RE; White/Black leather; Black vinyl top; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $54,500 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $57,770 -- 327/340hp, 4-speed, cassette stereo, side exhausts, alloy centerlock wheels, Radial T/A blackwall tires, P/B, P/S, A/C added. A thorough older restoration with some age and miles. Funky engine block stamping. This is the right money for a 327/340hp '63 Corvette in this condition, but maybe a little generous in light of the odd block stamping. It is, in any event, a choice older restoration that's been well maintained and has the advantage to a driver of the added A/C. Call it fair.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette FI Roadster
Lot # S123 1963 Chevrolet Corvette FI Roadster; S/N 30867S118771; Engine # 3118771FO529RF; Black/Black vinyl; Black vinyl top; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $60,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $63,600 -- 327/360hp fuel injection, 4-speed, alloy centerlock wheels, 6.70x15 BFG Silvertown blackwalls, P/S, P/B. AM-FM. Fair old repaint. Worn but sound upholstery. Good top and fair chrome. Oily engine with some road scum. Clean chassis but grimy in the bottom of the engine compartment. Scuffed and scratched console trim. This once was a well restored, showroom condition Corvette but now it's aged and used like a two-year old used car. There's quite a history on this boat, from B-J Scottsdale in '06 for $78.300 through B-J Palm Beach '06 for $91,800 to Mecum Indy in 2008 for $89,250. Its result here appropriately handicaps its great specifications with its well-used condition and is nothing if not a sound value for the new owner. The scum, grime and scratches can be remedied with time, attention, elbow grease and a few supplies. The underlying car is, simply, choice and can be Ninety Large again with some attention. It is bought smartly.
1969 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396
Lot # F126 1969 Chevrolet El Camino SS 396 ; S/N 136809K371304; Monaco Orange; Black vinyl roof/Black velour; Cosmetic restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $14,750 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $15,635 -- 396/325hp, 4-speed, bucket seats, no console, P/S, P/B, Rally wheels, trim rings, Radial T/A tires, cassette stereo, bed cover. Cosmetically restored with good paint, chrome and interior. Good bright trim except dented windshield post molding. Grimy engine, underbody and chassis. Stated to be a real SS 396. Reported bid to $17,500 at Mecum's Indy sale two months ago, it is impossible to argue with the value of this vehicle at this price. The presentation faults will be remedied with some attention ... or it can be driven without concern. Either way its is a good value.
1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # F158 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 41447L145014; Brick Red/White vinyl; Recent restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $34,250 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $36,305 -- 409/340hp, automatic, buckets and console, AM-FM, spinner wheel covers, narrow whitewalls. Good paint, chrome and interior. Chassis and underbody done like view. Straight body. Not quite like new, but close, this '62 Impala's 409 is, well, heavy. It'll dig off the line like a Ditch Witch, but soon runs out of breath, performance that is appropriately reflected in its mediocre price.