Mecum is the newcomer to the Monterey auction scene.
They secured the Hyatt location – abundant greensward for display, a generous convention center for headquarters, food service that parallels Pebble Beach at half PB’s exalted prices, ample (free!) parking on the Hyatt’s fairways – only two years ago.
Mecum’s is a different theme for Monterey: modest prices, no catalogs, defined time on the block. You run what you brung, in the vernacular.
Kruse tried it a few years ago and fell on its face. Mecum on the other hand has succeeded, attracting 234 cars in 2009 and selling the Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX 2601 for $7,685,000 to set its stake in the ground (more than half its total of $14,211,895 in 2009.) In 2010 the Mecum sale grew to two days and 428 cars with $15,602,627 in sales. 2011 brought 734 cars to the Hyatt in a 3-day sale that totaled $22,196,822.
Mecum’s average sale was just $49,993, the median $27,560. It’s a hard way to make a buck where RM’s median transaction is $214,500 and Gooding’s is $192,500, but it’s Mecum’s strength. It’s the people’s Monterey: free admission, accessibly priced cars, fast-paced action on the block. It’s the essence of auction excitement.
This year’s sale featured a huge collection of motorcycles on Thursday, many of them marques and models only a few committed collectors had ever heard of. They went like hotcakes on an early Midwest fair morning.
Then there were the David Uihlein cars, most of which are described in more detail here. Mr. Uihlein (whose family’s beer made Milwaukee famous) is the patron saint of American racing car collectors. His cars have the essence of the elusive character known as provenance and his Bowes Seal Fast Special 1931 Indy winner proved it with its $2,120,000 price.
Consolidating its position in Monterey will take Mecum a few more years, but its competence and the appeal of its egalitarian format will eventually carve out a valuable and important niche, one that is welcomed and appreciated by the thousands who come to Monterey to share in the week’s events.