Mecum Kissimmee 2012 – Auction Report

Mecum Auctions, Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee, Florida, January 24-29, 2012

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

This was the largest collector car auction in history.

Its 2,158 cars and boats across the auction block were within a shout of the total cars that had crossed the block in Arizona the week before in seven separate auctions taking up sixteen separate auction sessions.

In addition to the permanent exhibit halls there were ten acres of tents and more acres of open-air displays.

Mecum Auctions’ team put on a masterful display of organization and efficiency, moving cars across the block steadily and without delay. The sale rate shows conclusively that they were more than effective at motivating bidders and consignors quickly and efficiently.

All that is significant, even important, but without good cars it’s pointless, and there were good cars, sound cars and even many great cars in every row of every tent and field. These numbers are representative:

  • There were 313 Corvettes – Mecum had 346 at its Bloomington Gold all-Corvette auction in June;
  • There were 138 Mustangs, both Fords and Shelbys;
  • 129 Pontiac Trans Ams – that’s like two an hour crossing the block;
  • 36 Oldsmobile 4-4-2s;
  • 47 Pontiac GTOs.

In order to report some semblance of a cross-section of the cars at a consignment auction like this I walk down a row of cars in the preview until something catches my eye. Then I walk around the area selecting nearby cars that add to the information in my report; generally cars in stock or near stock configuration so their results inform the values of similar cars. In Kissimmee there were so many consignments with those characteristics that I could select six, eight, ten, even twelve at a whack, often including cars that are rarely seen, particularly at auctions.

It was car guy nirvana.

And while many cars in Scottsdale were customs, in Kissimmee the modified cars were few and far between.

Mecum says their May sale in Indianapolis which last year had 1,951 cars is shaping up to outdo Kissimmee.

It’s amazing. It’s overwhelming.

Mecum Auctions
Cars Offered / Cars Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Total Sales
Chg from prior year
2,158 / 1,564
1,411 / 1,062
1,071 / 701

A note on lot numbers: Mecum uses daily lot numbers as follows: G is Tuesday, W is Wednesday, T is Thursday, F is Friday, S is Saturday and U is Sunday. They had to extend the hours in Kissimmee so added more groups: H, I, J and K were respectively early lots on Wednesday through Saturday. As I said, it’s overwhelming.

Mecum Kissimmee 2012 – Auction Report

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

1967 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
Lot # F093 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe; S/N 194377S103181; Engine # T0923IR 7103181; Sunfire Yellow, Black stinger/Black vinyl; Recent restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $83,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $87,980 -- 427/390hp, Powerglide, P/W, AM-FM, P/S, P/B, California emissions, speed minder, A/C, Rally wheels, trim rings, 7.75-15 bias ply narrow whitewall tires. Represented as matching numbers engine, documented with tank sticker. Freshly restored to showroom condition with better than new clear coat paint. Sharp and fresh. The colors make this car particularly appealing, as does its surviving California emissions package, an item usually sacrificed to better performance (and reliability) during a Corvette's life. It's a strange instance where a (correct) performance-robbing feature enhances value. With Powerglide, however, this is a generous price.
1955 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster
Lot # F231.1 1955 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster; S/N VE55S001272; Harvest Gold/Yellow vinyl; Green vinyl top; Older restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $98,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $103,880 -- 265/195hp, Powerglide, WonderBar radio, spinner wheel covers, whitewalls. An older restoration to showroom condition maintained that way for twenty years. 1985 NCRS Top Flight, 1986 Bloomington Gold Special Collection. No Reserve. '55 Corvettes occupy a special place in Corvette history: the last year of the original roadster body and the first year with V-8 power. Plus, they didn't build many, just 700 for the year in total. 195hp and Powerglide won't light up the tires, but it will always have a place on a show field and has survived a quarter century with little effect showing. It is a good value at this price.
1957 Chevrolet Corvette FI Convertible
Lot # F232.1 1957 Chevrolet Corvette FI Convertible; S/N E57S100803; White, Silver coves/Red vinyl; Black vinyl roof; Cosmetic restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $90,500 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $95,930 -- 283/283hp fuel injection, 3-speed, WonderBar radio, spinner wheel covers, whitewalls. Good paint, weak trim chrome, scuffed window frames, wrinkled top, stone chipped fender wells, erratic panel fits. No Reserve. Sold at Mecum's Bloomington auction in 2004 for $53,380 and today showing just 18 more miles on the odometer, the passage of time will shortly drop this Corvette's condition a notch but hasn't yet. It's refreshing to see an early '57 restored with its 3-speed, too, an indication of the restorer's concern for correctness and not fashion. Both the buyer and the seller should be satisfied with this result, but the ROI over the last 7 1/2 years doesn't put the DJIA's performance in jeopardy.
1958 Chevrolet Corvette FI Convertible
Lot # F233 1958 Chevrolet Corvette FI Convertible; S/N J58S107175; Regal Turquoise, White coves/Black vinyl; White vinyl top; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $92,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $97,520 -- 283/290hp, 4-speed, P205/75R15 Firestone radial blackwalls on 5 1/2" wheels. Good older paint, chrome and interior. Wiper scratched windshield, discolored top. Good cosmetics. NCRS judged 92.5 in 2004. No Reserve. A good older restoration and highly desirable equipment list. The wide wheels, dog dish hubcaps and blackwall tires give it a particularly appealing, and slightly sinister, look. Its restoration isn't fresh, but it is sound and won't embarrass its new owner. Neither will the price paid.
1960 Chevrolet Corvette FI Convertible
Lot # F233.1 1960 Chevrolet Corvette FI Convertible; S/N 00867S103703; Black, Silver coves/Red vinyl; Black vinyl top; Older restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $82,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $86,920 -- 283 fuel injected engine, power not specified but probably 250hp. 4-speed. Good older paint, chrome and interior. Wrinkled top. Cassette stereo and missing center stack panel. Clean chassis. Unimpressive, neglected and incomplete, this "purchased from a museum" Corvette needs a caring home. No Reserve. The market for Corvettes was in Kissimmee this week, with over 300 of them on the Mecum auction's docket. Buyers were here, too, and showed restraint and intelligence, including picking up this '60 at a price that will allow it to have its needs addressed without being seriously dinged.
1965 Shelby Replica Daytona Coupe Replica
Lot # F238 1965 Shelby Replica Daytona Coupe Replica; S/N AZ275079; Grey, Silver stripes/Black, Oxblood leather; Facsimile restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $52,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $55,120 -- 351/525hp, Tremec 5-speed, Webers, Halibrand-style alloy pin drive wheels, Wilwood brakes, A/C. Odometer shows 4,489 miles which are hardly apparent on the car. This is the Factory Five replica, titled as a '65 Ford but more appropriately called a Shelby Replica, with fiberglass body and no connection with Peter Brock. It's cool, but something in its proportions isn't right. Factory Five now sells this package as the '65 Coupe', carefully avoiding 'Daytona' or 'Cobra'. This one was sold by Russo and Steele in Arizona in 2006 for $61,600 and in 2007 for $66,000. It's still essentially like new and would be some fun, for a while.
1965 Sunbeam Tiger Convertible
Lot # F263 1965 Sunbeam Tiger Convertible; S/N 9472600; BRGreen/Black vinyl; Recent restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $70,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $74,200 -- 289/300hp, 4-speed, 8-spoke Panasport wheels, P185/70R13 Dunlop blackwall tires, Moto-Lita woodrim steering wheel. Edelbrock Performer intake and 4-barrel, chromed oil filter housing and alternator. Freshly restored to showroom condition. Excellent paint and chrome, good upholstery. Even though the restoration isn't fully "correct", its engine modifications and details add some appeal to a car that relies on blistering performance to establish its profile. It brought a superior price attributable not only to its enhanced performance but also to its consistently high quality and fresh restoration. It's expensive, but its expensiveness is understandable.
1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
Lot # F281.1 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N RM23U0A175555; Tor-Red, Black vinyl roof/White vinyl; Recent restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $108,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $114,480 -- 440/375hp, automatic, 2.76 Sure Grip, P/S, P/B, transistor ignition, buckets and console, pushbutton radio, Rally wheels, trim rings, Radial T/A tires. Restored like new. Really good, solid, competently restored cars are easy to describe and the very best buys. The new owner of this Superbird can be secure and satisfied with the car and with the value for this price.
1987 Buick Regal Grand National
Lot # F304 1987 Buick Regal Grand National; S/N 1G4GJ1172HP455315; Black/Black, Grey velour; Unrestored original, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $38,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $40,280 -- Sunroof. 42 miles and all original, even the tires, oil and battery. Paint is thick and orange peely but there is no visible evidence of a repaint. Everything must be stiff as a board, but even taking that into account this is a find. Don't even think of starting it up ("original oil", how about the quarter-century old gas?) but it is extraordinary and brought an exceptional price.
1934 American Austin
Lot # F317 1934 American Austin 2-Dr. Sedan; S/N B5954087; Blue, Black fenders, Grey accent/Blue vinyl, velour; Cosmetic restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $15,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $15,900 -- 747cc, 3-Speed, disc wheels, rear mounted spare, fighting cock radiator cap. Superficially restored with flawed paint, weak chrome and little attention to details. This American Austin would have been a better car it it'd been left alone, and it would have been a better buy under $10,000.
1960 Nash Metropolitan Convertible
Lot # G043 1960 Nash Metropolitan Convertible; S/N E78203; Black, White/Black, White vinyl; White vinyl top; Enthusiast restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $21,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $22,260 -- Red steel wheels, hubcaps, whitewalls, radio, heater, exposed rear spare. Fair older repaint with water spots. Good older interior and top, dull trim chrome but good major chrome. Done chassis and engine but not very well. A cute but not impressive amateur restored driver. Nicknamed 'Oreo' on account of its black and white colors, this Metropolitan brought $17,050 at the Barrett-Jackson sale in Las Vegas last September, a tidy profit for the seller in only four months time.
1968 Shelby Mustang GT350 Convertible
Lot # K41 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350 Convertible; S/N 8T03J205206-03029; Red/Black; White vinyl top; Visually maintained, largely original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $67,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $71,020 -- 302/250hp, 4-speed, A/C, P/S, P/B, 10-spoke alloy wheels, Firehawk tires, pushbutton radio. Old repaint over original paint, chipped and scuffed. Good new top and original interior. Clean repainted chassis. Recently serviced. Not quite a barn find but an unusual car in unusually original condition. Generously discounted for it condition and many needs, the new owner of this GT350 Convertible has the financial headroom to make the car right, or just make it run and drive well and enjoy the heck out of it. It is a good value at this price.

Mecum Kissimmee 2012 – Auction Report Page Two

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Show Comments (2)

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  1. Rick: I just discovered you and of course, signed up with the Digest. Love your writing style and the information you give us. Question: 1. Why do you think new records are being set for the number of cars in the auctions? What is driving this increase? 2. Who is buying these cars? What percent do you think are dealers who only buy and sell at auctions and what percent are individuals who actually want to own and enjoy a classic car?

    I thank you in advance for the answers and look forward to reading more of your observations.

  2. 1. I’m a little uncertain over the exact question, so let me answer both interpretations:
    1a. If the question is why are there a record number of cars and auctions the answer is that car collecting, and therefore the market for collector cars, is growing rapidly. I think the auctions themselves are aiding in the hobby’s growth both by offering lots of cars and by highlighting the diversity and affordability of them.
    1b. If the question is why are there so many records the answer is that there is immense liquidity in today’s economy both in North America and overseas. Individuals see collector cars, particularly the very best cars in exceptional condition with excellent histories, as fun ways to employ (or park) some of that liquidity while opening up a whole lifestyle of activities from weekend cruising to exclusive concours and tours for participation. This is a society, like it or not, that craves experiences and a week on the California Mille or weekend at the Amelia Island Concours is definitely an experience.
    2. The presence of dealers is the life’s blood of any market, whether it’s real estate, financial instruments or corn. They provide the liquidity and the medium through which individuals can reliably count on turning an asset into cash. They are important factors in the collector car auctions both as buyers and as the under-bidders who make sure no car sells for an unreasonably cheap price. The dealer component, as both buyer and seller, varies widely with individual auctions and is impractical to quantify in generalities, but it’s probably somewhere between 10 and 30 percent.
    Dealers also frequently acquire cars with unrealized potential, the neglected or poorly prepared cars in dated colors which they can transform with mechanical and cosmetic attention into something an individual will feel more confident buying. Keep in mind, too, that dealers who buy at auction and re-sell add statutory warranties to every car they trade, warranties an individual collector won’t get at the auction where the only warranty, as Jim Cox at Branson puts it is, “50-50: if it breaks in half leaving the block, you own both halves.”
    The important factor to keep in mind, also, is that there is a distinct difference between dealers — who buy and sell on their own account — and speculators who buy in anticipation of market gains.
    My observation in recent years is that most cars are being bought by individuals, or end up passing from the auction through a dealer’s hands to individuals. That is borne out by similar observations from others who are in a position to observe the flow of cars through the marketplace.
    It gets a lot more complicated (and convoluted) than that, but that’s enough for now.

    Rick Carey