Mecum Kansas City Spring 2015 – Auction Report

Mecum Auctions, Kansas City Spring, April 23-25, 2015

Kansas City, whether spring or December, has never been a high-roller sale for Mecum Auctions. It is, however, a steady performer in high seven- or low-eight figures that mines the enthusiasm of a notable car collecting market.

The Spring 2015 Kansas City auction continued that track with a solid $8,955,661 sale and a consistent offering of similarly solid, and sometimes unusual, cars.

The numbers speak for themselves:

Mecum Kansas City Spring
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
619 / 376
$20,520 [86.2%]
No Data
No Data
No Data
No Data
No Data
695 / 442
$16,960 [79.4%]
705 / 430
$17,000 [77.9%]

Not surprisingly, one of Mecum’s ever-present Ford GTs was the top seller, albeit at a modest price of $275,400 reflecting its unusually high 8,200 miles. Second top sale, though, was very much out of the ordinary, a beautifully restored 1970 Mustang Twister Special with 428 Cobra Jet power that brought Shelby Mustang money, $243,000.

This auction report – as well as the one from Mecum’s Houston auction two weeks earlier and the Spring Classic in Indianapolis three weeks later – is deluged with pretty ordinary cars described at the auction as ‘believed to be’ some modest mileage on the odometer.

Fifties, Sixties and Seventies cars tended to be used up and unreliable about the time their five figure odometers rolled over. Bought new or used, they were driven ’til reliability became an issue, then passed on to a succession of new owners who drove them, and drove them, and then drove them some more. A hundred thousand mile car was done. These cars didn’t get put away for low mileage.

What’s with this flood of ordinary cars like ’78 Trans Am, ’53 Pontiac Chieftain, ’63 Galaxie convertible claiming ‘believed to be actual miles’? None of their consignors seem to be willing to sign a mileage disclosure statement.

Stating ‘believed to be actual miles’ should be discouraged in the absence of a signed mileage disclosure or a series of old titles with logical mileage progression signed by prior owners. In the absence of documentation and sellers’ certification the ‘believed to be actual miles’ claim becomes another obfuscation designed to mislead buyers. While most are not fooled, it entices the gullible and sets the stage for creating a bad experience which does the collector car hobby no favors.

Let’s make ‘believed to be actual miles’ a thing of the past.

[Andrew C. Newton contributed the on-site observations for this auction; the editor is responsible for the comments.]

Mecum Kansas City Spring 2015 – Auction Report

1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria 2-Dr. Sedan
Lot # F045 1955 Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N U5RW111947; Teal, White/Green, White vinyl; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $20,500 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $22,140. With Reserve. 289 V-8, dual exhaust, column shift automatic, black steel wheels with full wheel covers, Denman wide whitewalls, mud flaps???, rear fender skirts, bench seats, pushbutton radio. – Air cleaner, valve covers, block and heads have all been crudely sprayed over once in blue and the rest of the engine bay is fairly grubby. Small dent near the left headlight. Slightly dinged up brightwork. Uneven gaps. Very good newer chrome on the bumpers. Paint masking mistakes on the window moulding. Crude paint with some chips in the interior, but very good newer upholstery. An enthusiast cosmetic restoration, but nothing special. – A fairly nasty car with a replacement 289 V-8 instead of the original 272 Y-block, done to backyard standards of materials and workmanship and bought generously for what it is.
1975 Pontiac Firebird Formula Coupe
Lot # F046 1975 Pontiac Firebird Formula Coupe; S/N 2U87E5N549645; White, Burgundy vinyl roof/Burgundy cloth; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $11,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $11,880. With Reserve. 350/175hp, 4-speed, BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires, dual mirrors, power brakes, tilt steering column, air conditioning, woodgrain dash, Sony cassette stereo. – Ok paint. Cracked bubble on the nose and a ding on the rear spoiler. Good roof vinyl. Clean original engine bay and undercarriage. Scratched exterior plastic. Pretty worn interior. Heavy wear on carpets and frayed seatbelts. Scratched window glass. A presentable but unimpressive original Firebird. – The Formula package basically had the equipment of a Trans Am but with the appearance of a base Firebird, and the Trans Am name commands a significant premium. The seller should be pleased to have gotten this much for a fairly unremarkable example.
1978 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe
Lot # F050 1978 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe; S/N 2W87Z8L132219; Chesterfield Brown, Gold/Tan cloth piped in Brown; Visually maintained, largely original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $26,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $28,080. With Reserve. 400/180hp, 4-speed, BF Goodrich Radial T/A tires, dual mirrors, power steering, power brakes, Rally gauges, air conditioning, PHS documentation and original build sheet. – Very good newer paint aside from a scuff on the right rear fender. Very clean engine bay and undercarriage. Very good interior. Showing what is believed to be 18,062 actual miles. A very good screaming chicken Trans Am with a high quality repaint in an unusual color. – Offered here two years ago with a reported high bid of $19,000. The “believed to be” mileage is, however, hard to accept and the price reflects the current popularity of Firebird Trans Ams.
1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL Convertible
Lot # F052 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL Convertible; S/N 10704412006064; Yellow/Black vinyl; Older restoration, 3 condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $14,000. With Reserve. Chrome wheels, Pirelli P400 Aquamile tires, woodgrain console, wood shift knob, later Alpine cassette stereo, air conditioning, VDO dash clock, two tops. – Restored in 1997. Chip on edge of passenger’s side door and ding on left rear fender. The rest of the paint is fairly dull. Lining on the inside of the hard top is a little loose. Very good interior. An eye-catching color for a 107 Mercedes, but nothing to write home about. A pretty, comfortable and usable cruiser. – 1973 was the first year for the 450SL in the North American market, where these cars thrived. The 147,340 miles on this otherwise presentable example likely deterred buyers who are spoiled for choice with so many R107s available. That said, the $14,000 high bid was well below market value for a car in this condition. The seller then took it the Mecum’s Spring Classic in Indianapolis where it got real and was sold on a hammer bid of $6,500, $7,020 with commission. Bad decision, lesson learned.
1955 DeSoto Fireflite 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # F055 1955 DeSoto Fireflite 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N 50349504; Pink, White/White leather with Pink cloth inserts; Older restoration, 3 condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $35,000. With Reserve. 291/200hp Firedome Hemi V-8, dual exhaust, PowerFlite transmission, chrome wire wheels with spinner hub caps, whitewalls, bench seats, dash clock, pushbutton radio. – Ground-up restored in 1993. Large paint chip below the trunk, but otherwise pretty, sound older paint and chrome. Passenger’s side door fit is slightly off. Very clean and well kept engine bay. Seat upholstery is lightly worn. An older restoration that’s still pretty and doesn’t really need anything, but isn’t a stunner. The color perhaps limits this car to the wife or to someone very secure in his masculinity, but it is a pretty car. – 1955 saw the first of Virgil Exner’s “Forward Look” cars and was the first year for DeSoto’s flagship Fireflite, which was a flashier car than the comparable Fords and Chevys. About 37,000 were made so they aren’t exactly common but certainly aren’t hen’s teeth, either. This older restoration was bid to a price that would have been appropriate in the pre-recession high for these cars, but in today’s market it was a price that he should have been thrilled with. It is unlikely to bring more later.
1966 Ford Mustang Notchback
Lot # F056 1966 Ford Mustang Notchback; S/N 6F07T702433; Burgundy/Black vinyl; Cosmetic restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $13,500 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $14,580. With Reserve. Built with a six but now has a 289/200hp V-8 and automatic, dual exhaust, chrome wire wheels, Uniroyal Tiger Paw narrow whitewalls, dual mirrors, bucket seats, cassette stereo. – Ding with cracking on the nose as well as a small scratch. Small blister on passenger’s side door and a 3-inch scratch on the right rear fender. Dull older paint otherwise. Very good, lightly worn interior. Used, mostly original engine bay and undercarriage. A decent notchback Mustang that would make a good basic driver. – Combining the driveline upgrade with the shoddy workmanship is a serious detriment to this Mustang’s value. The new owner should have little confidence that the suspension has been upgraded for the V-8, as well. The seller should be very happy to get this much for it.
2000 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe
Lot # F064 2000 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe; S/N 2G2FV22G4Y2103681; Mystic Teal/Black leather; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $6,000 plus commission of 8.33%; Final Price $6,500. With Reserve. 350/330hp, automatic, T-tops, rear spoiler, Sumitomo tires, WS9 Package, power windows, air conditioning, cassette stereo. – Hood and mirrors are a visibly different shade. Several small dings on the hood, nose and headlight covers. Paint is coming up on passenger’s side rub strip. Several small dings on the tail. Very good, lightly worn interior. The wear and tear are unusual for a car this age and the different color front end strongly hints at accident repair. A good car to avoid. – It’s lots of performance for the money, but at the end of the day it’s a used car with visible wear and tear and the scent of front end damage. The seller must be relieved to be rid of it.
1953 Pontiac Chieftain 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # F087 1953 Pontiac Chieftain 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N X8XH34002; White/Dark Gray vinyl with light Gray cloth inserts; Visually maintained, largely original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $17,000 plus commission of 8.00%; Final Price $18,360. With Reserve. 239/118hp, automatic, red steel wheels with full wheel covers, American Classic whitewalls, Chief hood ornament, 12-volt electrics, dual spotlights, windshield visor, dual mirrors, skirts, bench seats, factory pushbutton AM radio and later JVC stereo, dash clock. – Paint run on the passenger’s side door. Uneven finish that has orange peel in spots and is gloppy in others on the pillars. Driver’s side door fit off. Very good chrome. Excellent interior. Very clean engine bay and undercarriage. An enthusiast restoration on a car believed to have just 31,345 miles. – Anyone gullible enough to give even the slightest credence to the claim of 31,345 miles is a prime candidate for purchasing the Brooklyn Bridge. It is an uninspired presentation of an interesting car that brought a full retail price.