Mecum Indianapolis 2016 – Auction Report

Mecum Auctions, Spring Classic, State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 17-21, 2016

After being overshadowed by Kissimmee, Harrisburg, Dallas and other newer Mecum venues in 2016 the ‘Spring Classic’, Mecum’s original Rockford (Belvidere), Illinois auction has begun to lift itself out of the shadows of the newcomers and reassert its importance.

The car count was back up to over 1,500, the sale total was more than any recent Spring Classic since 2012 and the consignment makeup was as good as it’s been in years – despite the disappointing median sale of $26,000.

But that’s what the Mecum Spring Classic is about: affordable cars that appeal to masses of collectors, peppered with Big Money, high profile American Muscle (for the most part) that puts onlookers in the mood, even if they can’t afford them.

The layout changed dramatically this year as the State Fairgrounds expanded with new exhibit buildings nestled among the Sheep and Swine buildings that give this location its character. It was a long walk through structure after structure from the main entrance, a walk giving Mecum’s exhibitor and vendor clients their shot at attracting visitors’ attention.

Mecum suffered, though, a similar issue that other recent auctions have encountered; selling their high dollar cars. 21 lots were bid to $250,000 or more on the hammer. Only 10 of them sold, a 47.6% sell-through far below the auction’s overall sale rate of 70.5%.

Going down the order to $100,000 hammer bids, there were 150 lots. 78 of them sold, still a modest 52% sell-through.

As we head into Monterey in August, where there will be as many eight-figure cars on offer as there were six-figure cars in Indianapolis, this disconnect between the top of the market and the much more healthy middle will be etched in sharp relief.

This report is – as was Kissimmee in January – delayed while gathering observations from several people and then being distracted by subsequent auctions that could be turned around more quickly.

Here are the numbers:

Mecum Spring Classic
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
1557 / 1098
$26,000 [57.5%]
1274 / 822
$32,400 [65.2%]
1605 / 937
$28,080 [68.6%]
1717 / 1135
$27,560 [65.5%]
1976 / 1322
$26,500 [70.2%]
1951 / 1244
$26,235 [67.0%]
1598 / 1011
$29,150 [69.5%]
1029 / 634
$28,680 [55.6%]
757 / 400
$26,250 [49.8%]

Greg Ingold and Erik Nelson contributed many of the on-site observations from Indy.

Mecum Indianapolis 2016 – Auction Report


1992 GMC Typhoon 1/2 Ton SUV 4x4
Lot # G74 1992 GMC Typhoon 1/2 Ton SUV 4×4; S/N 1GDCT18Z2N0811427; Black/Grey, Black; Unrestored original, 2- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $12,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $13,200 – 262/280hp Turbo, automatic, air conditioning, bucket seats, center console, cassette player, power windows. – Decent paint. Door alignment is slightly uneven. The engine compartment is aged and grimy, and under the lip of the hood is starting to flake away paint and rust. The underbody is old and very oxidized. In used car condition and showing 54,343 miles, it is easily drivable and very presentable but certainly not a prime example. – Perfect for someone who wants to enjoy the famous Ferrari 348-beating performance of the Syclone/Typhoon without worrying about racking up a few miles or suffering the occasional stone chip. This would have been a good buy at another two grand, and it’s a lot of speed per dollar. Beats the —- out of an FJ40.
1953 Henry J Corsair Deluxe 2-Dr. Sedan
Lot # G128 1953 Henry J Corsair Deluxe 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N K534002247; Burgundy/Brown vinyl, Beige cloth; Visually maintained, largely original, 4 condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $7,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $8,250 – 161/80hp, 3-speed, turn signals, wheel covers, wide whitewall bias ply tires. – Awful repaint over worse prep. Worn, cracked, dry original upholstery and interior trim. Dead body seals. Good major chrome but weak trim. – In the dictionary under the word ‘despicable’ there should be a photo of this immensely crappy Henry J. It sold for $8,000 at Mecum’s April auction in KC in 2013, and it hasn’t gotten any better since, a automotive sludge pump. Why would anyone pay this much for a crapcan?
1969 Opel Kadett Rallye 2-Dr. Sedan
Lot # G142.1 1969 Opel Kadett Rallye 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N 919165750; Copper, Matte black, Black vinyl roof/Black vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $11,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $12,100 – 1,077cc/67hp, automatic, cassette stereo, bucket seats, styled steel wheels with trim rings, fog lights. – Decent clearcoat repaint, good roof vinyl, dull aluminum window trim, sound chrome. Matte black is starting to peel in a few places. Good upholstery and interior trim except for a tear in the driver’s seat cushion. Better than it has any reason to be. – Reported sold at Kissimmee four months ago for $11,000, this is a niche auto. No one really knows, and even fewer care, about these German imports brought to the U.S. to satiate Buick dealers’ desires for cheap cars. But, no matter how little one cares, they’re pretty neat little cars although this result values it at the very pinnacle of Opel Kadett Rallyes. It was probably bought by a former Buick dealer; no one else cares.
1980 Triumph TR8 Convertible
Lot # G145 1980 Triumph TR8 Convertible; S/N TPVDV8AT209696; Light Gold/Blue vinyl, gray plaid; Black leatherette top; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $7,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $7,700 – 3.5/135hp, 5-speed, air conditioning, Kenwood CD stereo, grey painted alloy wheels, leather rim steering wheel, blackwall Firestone radial tires. – Sound original paint and interior, dull black plastic bumpers. A sound original car but worn and used like the 39,473 miles on the odometer were maybe on their second time around. – This is a better car than its price indicates. It hasn’t been messed up and it wears its age proudly. It’s a good value at this price – although no one should expect to get rich turning it around, just satisfied owning and driving it.
1959 Ford Fairlane 500 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # G159.1 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N C9GV123301; Turquoise Blue, White/Turquoise Blue vinyl, White; Unrestored original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $14,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $15,950 – 292/200hp, automatic, pushbutton factory radio, underdash CD stereo, fog lights, wheel covers, narrow whitewalls, heater. – Faded and buffed through original paint. Tattered original front seat upholstery and headliner. Repainted wheel wells. Sound major chrome, thin trim. No obvious rust or repairs. – ‘Unrestored’ it is, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. This is a tired car with beat up upholstery. It’s apparently sound, but for what it is, who cares? The seller should be overjoyed to get this much for an $8,000 car.
1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible
Lot # G167 1972 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible; S/N 3J67K2M104461; Orange/White vinyl; White vinyl top; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $13,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $14,300 – 350/180hp, automatic, buckets and console, air conditioning, AM-FM, sport steering wheel, remote outside mirror, accessory cruise control Rally wheels with trim rings, Stinger radial tires. – Good original paint, chrome and upholstery. Repainted deck lid. Thin rear bumper chrome. A reassuring highly original Olds represented to have the original engine. – Not that there’s much to get excited about that original engine with only 180hp; it’s so understressed it’ll probably live forever. This is an unassuming, simple, usable every-weekend kind of collector car that brought a realistic and affordable price with no premium at all for originality.
1982 Fiat 124 Spider
Lot # G167.1 1982 Fiat 124 Spider; S/N ZFAAS00B1C5003343; Dark Blue/Beige leather; Beige vinyl top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $9,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $10,450 – Panasonic cassette stereo, Ferraro leather rim steering wheel, remote outside mirror, alloy wheels, Sunny blackwall radial tires. – Good older repaint and original interior. Thin trim chrome. Faded top with a minor seam repair. Represented as original paint, but it’s not. Clean underbody. Freshly serviced at a cost of $1,600. – A sound and usable weekend driver showing 76,137 believable kilometers for which an appropriate retail price was paid.
1971 Dodge Charger R/T 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # G179 1971 Dodge Charger R/T 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N WS23UA1144775; Orange, Black/Black vinyl; Cosmetic restoration, 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $31,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $34,100 – 440/370hp, 4-speed, Hurst pistol grip shifter, bucket seats, no console, pushbutton radio, Rallye wheels with hubcaps and trim rings, wing, transistor ignition, electric wipers, no power steering or brakes. – Thick but sound older repaint, fair chrome, sound interior Stiff, creaky doors. Underbody undercoated assembled. Paint cracked over the drip rails. Cracked, dry window seals. Orderly but aged and used engine compartment. A sound but ordinary driver represented to have a matching numbers engine. – The car card claimed this car had a ‘frame-off restoration’, but its appearance does not look like it. The bidders paid well for a sound and usable Charger R/T with the Magnum V-8 and a 4-speed.
1937 Ford Model 74 Fordor
Lot # G191 1937 Ford Model 74 Fordor; S/N 87175; Black/Brown cloth; Unrestored original, 3- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $14,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $15,950 – 136/60hp V8-60, radio, heater, turn signals, hubcaps, trim rings, wide whitewalls, spare wheel and tire. – Scruffy old repaint starting to lift at edges, corner chips. Sound original upholstery with threadbare driver’s seat. Surface rusted but dry original chassis and underbody. Orderly original engine compartment. An unusual survivor. – Two people wanted this perfectly ordinary Ford sedan very badly in order to take the bidding to this level. It is a scruffy old car with an anemic little engine and vast needs cosmetically. It doesn’t help any that the VIN doesn’t make sense, either.
1968 Lincoln Continental 4-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # G194 1968 Lincoln Continental 4-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 8Y82A828836; Ivory, Black vinyl roof/Black leather; Unrestored original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $25,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $28,050 – Lincoln dash plaque names Mrs. Paul B. Heflin. Climate control, AM-FM, power everything. – All original with 4,417 miles and in outstanding condition for its age. The seller proudly noted that the original tires were in the trunk. – It’s hard to see how this Continental could have passed 48 years in obscurity, with so few miles, but in such good condition, but the evidence that it did is clear. It was one of several low mileage late Continentals scattered around the Fairgrounds this week disclosing common ownership with the messages written on their windows. This is an heroic price for a ’68 Continental sedan, but not unrealistic for this one, which even can be driven some without detracting from its ‘low miles’ status.

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Show Comments (4)

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  1. Another enjoyable summary with many interesting comments about the state of the market and what to look for in a restored car. However, as someone who wears a helmet while cycling I am disturbed by the insinuation that I could be a potential Bricklin purchaser.

    1. Hey, Leslie,
      I just came back from a cleaning at the dentist.
      They supplied me with safety glasses while I was in the chair.
      This whole ‘safety’ thing has gone waaay too far.

  2. I’m the proud owner of the 65 Grand Prix you wrote about. Bought it from a dealer in NC and shipped it to Sacramento, CA. Since getting it I’ve added a set of restored 8 log wheels, powder coated the suspension pieces and installed new bushings. Toyed with the idea of repainting it, but for now it stays original. Will likely drive it less than 25 Miles a year.