Mecum Indianapolis 2015 – Auction Report

Mecum Auctions, Spring Classic, Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 13-16, 2015

Mecum’s Spring Classic is a marathon, four days of nonstop auctions with cars spread throughout the various exposition buildings of the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. It is possible – even productive – simply to concentrate on the Big Car displays. There is plenty there, in the diverse, if Muscle-oriented, consignment that makes the Spring Classic one of the year’s signature collector car auction events.

That isn’t to ignore the early and late cars in each day’s Mecum Green Sheet, and it is equally productive to prowl the lineup late in the day, catching the current day’s late lot numbers and the early ones for the following day lined up and ready to begin selling before the morning’s coffee can be drained.

It was apparent on the ground from the first that the 2015 consignment was way down from prior years. The numbers, even taking into account the 121 motorcycles offered on Thursday (86 sold, 71.1% sale rate, $1,542,510 total with commission, not included in the numbers below), bear out that impression.

Reinforcing that, the Spring Classic was originally scheduled to be a five-day sale: there was no Sunday auction.

What’s also apparent from the numbers is that Mecum has turned its attention to quality with both the average and median transactions much greater than in prior years. The individual observations that follow will show that’s not because of price inflation but rather generally higher quality.

Despite offering 20% fewer lots than last year the four day sale total was up 6.5 %.

Here are the numbers:

Mecum Spring Classic
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
2015
1274 / 822
64.5%
$49,694
$32,400 [65.2%]
$40,848,613
2014
1605 / 937
58.4%
$40,950
$28,080 [68.6%]
$38,369,786
2013
1717 / 1135
66.1%
$42,068
$27,560 [65.5%]
$47,747,100
2012
1976 / 1322
66.9%
$37,755
$26,500 [70.2%]
$49,911,691
2011
1951 / 1244
63.8%
$39,138
$26,235 [67.0%]
$48,688,183
2010
1598 / 1011
63.3%
$41,948
$29,150 [69.5%]
$42,409,902
2009
1029 / 634
61.6%
$53,353
$28,680 [55.6%]
$33,825,543
2008
757 / 400
52.8%
$52,694
$26,250 [49.8%]
$21,077,679

“Why?” is all conjecture but surely some of it is Mecum’s own success in opening up new venues siphoning off consignments that would otherwise been attracted to the Spring Classic. Kissimmee is the obvious cause, but Mecum has also made a huge success out of its Dallas sale with 1,196 cars last September. Harrisburg is close and drew 875 cars last July. There were 932 cars at Mecum Houston only a month earlier and 619 in Kansas City three weeks before the Spring Classic. Single owner sales, like the Rogers’ Classic Car Museum sale in Reno in February, draw off another source of Spring Classic consignments.

Other auction companies aren’t making it any easier, either.

The quest for consignments is an intense, year-round effort. Despite the occasional barn find or wreck resurrected by gifted and talented restorers the supply of real collector cars is essentially finite. Adding more outlets for them only spreads that finite supply more thinly across the auction venues.

It is to the credit of the Mecum Auctions team that they brought so many quality cars to the Spring Classic, in the process making it easier to separate the wheat from an ever-smaller quantity of chaff.

Maybe Mecum’s Spring is better characterized as a sprint. It’s the year’s auction calendar that is the marathon.

[On-site observations by the editor, Greg Ingold and Erik Nelson; the editor is responsible for comments]

Mecum Indianapolis 2015 – Auction Report

1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible
Lot # T162 1965 Chevrolet Impala SS Convertible; S/N 166675S171261; Engine # S171261 T02I1JB; Red/Black vinyl; Black top; Cosmetic restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $34,500 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $37,260. With Reserve. 409/340hp, 4-speed, spinner wheel covers, narrow whitewalls, pushbutton radio, bucket seats, center console with clock, 6,000 RPM tach. – Represented as matching numbers. Clean, shiny paint. The brightwork is very good and the top looks new. The engine compartment has seen little use since the 2007 cosmetic restoration. The underbody has been completely redone. The gauge lenses are a bit cloudy and the seats have been redone. Previously restored with minimal use. A stylish way to enjoy the last year for the 409. – It’s refreshing that the restorer of this ’65 Impala didn’t kick it up to L31 400hp or L80 425hp trim, an honesty that is reflected in the other details of its restoration and presentation. Properly restored and well maintained, it could have brought another $15,000 and still represented a good value for the new owner.
1982 Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition Coupe
Lot # T181 1982 Chevrolet Corvette Collector Edition Coupe; S/N 1G1AY0788C5100940; Silver Beige, Brown/Silver Beige leather; Estimate $30,000 – $35,000; Unrestored original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $27,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $29,160. With Reserve. 350/200hp, Cross Fire Injection, automatic, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, power seat, air conditioning, tilt steering column, cruise control, AM/FM cassette stereo, CB radio, bronze tinted glass roof panel. – All original Collector Edition Corvette with only 248 miles since new. Paint is very good with only a few minor blemishes. Panel fitment is very good. Engine bay is showing age and wear. Undercarriage is very clean. Interior looks new with no wear. An excellent example that’s been part of the same collection since 1989 and very much been treated as a “Collector Edition” from new. – Produced as a special version to see out the final days of the C3, the Collector Edition 1982 cars were nevertheless not all that enticing to drive, which makes it easier to keep it in a sealed garage and admire its good looks. In over 30 years, this car has racked up less than 250 miles and it will probably never travel more than 300 at this point. It’s been under careful ownership for a long time and, given the very strong price paid here, it’s probably off to another carefully kept collection for the foreseeable future.
1961 Chevrolet Impala 2-Dr. Hardtop Bubble Top
Lot # T183 1961 Chevrolet Impala 2-Dr. Hardtop Bubble Top; S/N 11837B100864; Ice Blue/Blue vinyl, cloth; Estimate $35,000 – $45,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $34,500 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $37,260. With Reserve. 348/250 hp, Powerglide, P/S, skirts, wheel covers, pushbutton radio, whitewalls. – Good paint, chrome and interior. Underbody is stone chipped and surface rusted. A show winner in 1999 with miles evident under the car but not on the paint or interior. – The configuration of this Bubble Top Impala isn’t exceptional but power steering will make it an enjoyable driver. It is well preserved and highly original. At the price it represents full value for the money paid.
1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # T187 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 21847A139249; Ermine White/Red vinyl; Estimate $50,000 – $60,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $63,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $68,040. With Reserve. 409/409hp, 4-speed, stock spaghetti stalk shifter, buckets and console, no P/S or P/B, spinner wheel covers narrow whitewalls, pushbutton radio, Positraction, Sun tach. – No claim made that this is the original engine, just that it’s a correct QB code 409/409. Good older paint, chrome and interior. Engine compartment is orderly but shows age. The same could be said of the chassis and underbody. It would sure be fun to drive as it is. – Is this undocumented 409/409 4-speed worth almost double the value of the 348/250hp Powerglide Bubble Top sold a few cars before it? Yes, it is. The engine is something that no one can resist when the hood is raised, and the condition is better. The 4-speed is essential to enjoying the drive. Both the seller and the buyer should be satisfied with this result.
1963 Ford Galaxie 500 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # T189 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 3N63F119801; White/Blue vinyl; Estimate $30,000 – $40,000; Modified restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $22,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $23,760. With Reserve. Originally 2-barrel 260 now with a 406/405hp with three 2-barrels, 4-speed, stock style shifter, bench seat, P/S, Auto Meter gauges, blackwall radial tires, hubcaps, pushbutton radio. – Sound paint, good chrome, sound older interior. Engine compartment is orderly but far from restored. Underbody is covered in old undercoat. There is not much going for it except that gorgeous engine. – A collector car hot rod and there can be no guaranty that the restorer who dropped the big, heavy 406 under the hood did all the things Ford did to take the extra weight, horsepower and torque. The Indy bidders appropriately handicapped the price for the uncertainties with a price that wouldn’t be inappropriate if the diminutive 260 still resided under the hood.
1969 Chevrolet Nova SS 2-Dr. Sedan
Lot # T205 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N 114279W529601; Tuxedo Black/Blue vinyl; Estimate $65,000 – $75,000; Older restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $47,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $50,760. With Reserve. 396/375hp L48 Engine, automatic, 3.55 12-bolt Positraction, power brakes, radio delete, steel wheels with red line tires. – Represented as numbers matching with two build sheets. Paint looks very good with just a few tiny flaws. Panel gaps and brightwork are both very good. Engine bay is immaculate with factory markings. Underneath is spotless. Interior is good and only lightly worn. They should have gone the extra distance during the restoration to make it perfect. A very good, relatively recent full restoration of a rarely and desirably equipped Nova SS. – Offered here three years ago with a reported high bid of $54,000, this L48 Nova SS has gone nowhere since, which is a pity. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and leaves nothing to be desired by way of documentation, power train or restoration. It could have brought moderately more and still been a good value.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # T208 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 124379N626098; Hugger Orange, Black vinyl roof/Black vinyl; Estimate $150,000 – $175,000; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $145,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $156,600. With Reserve. 427/425 hp, 4-speed, Hurst shifter, no console, 4.1 Positraction, heater, pushbutton radio, Rally wheels with hubcaps and trim rings, cowl induction. – Fresh show car restoration. MCACN judged 998 points in 2014. Gorgeous paint and chrome but other than that done to showroom condition and not taken too far. – The price this COPO brought is right in the ballpark for COPOs at the Spring Classic, but this is if anything the best of the lot in its restoration and presentation making it a sound value at this price.
1965 Ford Galaxie 500 XL 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # T209 1965 Ford Galaxie 500 XL 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 5G66R1244542; Vintage Burgundy/Black vinyl; Estimate $70,000 – $90,000; Recent restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $70,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $75,600. With Reserve. 427/425hp, 4-speed, 4.11 axle, top loader transmission, dual four-barrel carbs, fade resistant police/taxi brakes, Pyrex headlight covers, body color wheels, hubcaps, red line tires, Sun tachometer, bench seat. – Excellent paint and body. Window trim is slightly nicked. Engine bay and underbody have been restored to like new. Door cards are worn near the tops. Represented as matching numbers. A very pretty, quality and fresh body-off restoration. – One of 327 built in 1965 and a good if somewhat erratic combination of restoration with some worn original items that let down the overall impression. The bidders noticed and were accordingly circumspect in the value they assigned it.
1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # T211 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 0F5M102477; Acapulco Blue, Black hood stripe/Black vinyl; Estimate $45,000 – $60,000; Recent restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $54,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $58,320. With Reserve. 351/300hp, Top Loader 4-Speed, 3.25 Traction-Lok rear, original invoice, air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, shaker hood, front and rear spoilers, AM/FM radio. – Freshly restored Mach 1 represented as matching numbers. Paint is very good, as is the panel fit. Engine compartment is spotless. Interior looks brand new. The undercarriage is the only part of the car showing significant signs of use. A very strong car with quality work put into it. – An impressively restored Boss 302 that was rewarded on the block. The price was better than condition, and the engine isn’t special, making this a generous result for the seller.

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Show Comments (6)

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  1. These numbers are filled with inaccuracies. I logged every sale of this auction according to mecums own website results. Total sales = $35,984,501 plus commission. Total pass thru entries = 1324. Total vehicles sold = 779. Percentage sold = 58.65%. Average sale price = $46,193.20. Mecums numbers, not mine.

  2. Michael,
    Wow! That’s a massive effort.
    The stats published in SCD are derived from a spreadsheet of final results received directly from Mecum the week after the sale.
    They are then cleaned of dupes and reruns (based on the VIN reported by Mecum) so the same car is counted only once even if it crosses the block twice. A rerun that is sold one time but passed another is included as sold; the no-sale is not included in the sale total but is noted in the individual transaction record’s Comments field. Lots reported sold twice (it does happen) are included only once, generally at the higher or the later of the two transaction amounts.
    Grouped transactions (boat and trailer, for instance, sold together but wiht two lot numbers) are counted only once.
    Mecum sometimes reports a lot with a “$0” transaction. In reviewing the sale and cleaning up the results these lots are not included.
    The SCD reports generally don’t include motorcycles or golf carts, although I may not find all of them. In the case of the Spring Classic most of the motorcycles ran May 14 under distinct lot numbers and those [approximately] $1,542,510 in total sales were not included. In general I have found these transactions to be no-shows, although in some cases they are no-sales where the auctioneer and clerk don’t record the high bid amount. They are in aggregate not significant.
    Reported results and totals include Mecum’s buyer’s premium of the greater of $500 or 8% of the hammer bids; Mecum reports only the hammer bids on the website (as you noted above) and in their spreadsheet, for both sold and no-sale lots.
    We give Mecum’s “Bid Goes On” staff credit for their work closing deals after the cars cross the block and up to five working days after the auction so lots that are passed on the block but closed later are included. We do the same for all other auctions, as do all of our colleagues in the collector car auction reporting world.
    I went back and checked my results and find that one more lot has appeared in the “Sold” column, bringing the total sold to 823 lots and elevating the sale total to just over $41 million ($41,016,823.)
    That’s how it works, and I’ll stand by the numbers in SCD, but commend you for taking the time and going to the trouble of compiling a massive list for your own information.

  3. I made a mistake in the earlier comment. It should read as follows:
    Michael,
    Wow! That’s a massive effort.
    The stats published in SCD are derived from a spreadsheet of final results received directly from Mecum the week after the sale.
    They are then cleaned of dupes and reruns (based on the VIN reported by Mecum) so the same car is counted only once even if it crosses the block twice. A rerun that is sold one time but passed another is included as sold; the no-sale is not included in the sale total but is noted in the individual transaction record’s Comments field. Lots reported sold twice (it does happen) are included only once, generally at the higher or the later of the two transaction amounts.
    Grouped transactions (boat and trailer, for instance, sold together but wiht two lot numbers) are counted only once.
    Mecum sometimes reports a lot with a “$0? transaction. In reviewing the sale and cleaning up the results these lots are not included. In general I have found these transactions to be no-shows, although in some cases they are no-sales where the auctioneer and clerk don’t record the high bid amount. They are in aggregate not significant.
    The SCD reports generally don’t include motorcycles or golf carts, although I may not find all of them. In the case of the Spring Classic most of the motorcycles ran May 14 under distinct lot numbers and those [approximately] $1,542,510 in total sales were not included.
    Reported results and totals include Mecum’s buyer’s premium of the greater of $500 or 8% of the hammer bids; Mecum reports only the hammer bids on the website (as you noted above) and in their spreadsheet, for both sold and no-sale lots.
    We give Mecum’s “Bid Goes On” staff credit for their work closing deals after the cars cross the block and up to five working days after the auction so lots that are passed on the block but closed later are included. We do the same for all other auctions, as do all of our colleagues in the collector car auction reporting world.
    I went back and checked my results and find that one more lot has appeared in the “Sold” column, bringing the total sold to 823 lots and elevating the sale total to just over $41 million ($41,016,823.)
    That’s how it works, and I’ll stand by the numbers in SCD, but commend you for taking the time and going to the trouble of compiling a massive list for your own information.