Mecum Auctions, Hyatt Regency, Monterey, California, August 16-18, 2012

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

This was Mecum’s fourth year at Monterey, an expansion which many considered risky at best and foolish at worst. The Mecum team has shown that it was intelligently conceived and nearly flawlessly executed and the Mecum auction now captures the third highest sale total on the Peninsula.

It takes a lot of hard work to put on a three-day sale with 559 cars, motorcycles and automobilia (‘Road Art’ in Mecum-speak) but Mecum continues to pull it off ever more effectively. The numbers – like the 85.4% increase in the mean transaction value – tell an interesting story.

There were a number of headline consignments, notably the 1972 SCCA Can-Am Championship winning Porsche 917/10 sold for $5,000,000, $5,830,000 with commission and the 71-bike collection of MV Agustas that were auctioned in a single lot but fell short of reserve at $800,000.

The Porsche attracted similar consignments, both Can-Am cars like Don Nichols’ one race, as-new Shadow DN4 and truckloads of Porsches.

The Mecum crew exhibits a bit of flair and fun from time to time, a hint that they really like what they’re doing. The hint in Monterey was a tent full of nothing but red cars. Not ‘red’ in the Italian sense, but red in color including Cord, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz.

The cars reported here are predominantly the higher end and race cars displayed in the main tent and some of the outlying preview tents. We’ll have many more, and more diverse, cars in the second tranche of auction reports that will be added here soon.

Mecum Auctions
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
Chg from prior year
599 / 348
743 / 444
428 / 208
234 / 104

Mecum Monterey 2012 – Auction Report

1965 Merlyn Mk 6A Sports Racer
Lot # T087.1 1965 Merlyn Mk 6A Sports Racer; S/N 85RS; White, Gold stripe/Black; Competition restoration, 3+ condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $50,000 — RHD. Good paint, sound older upholstery. Neat, tidy vintage racer with a replacement chassis, Lotus twin cam, Weber 45DCOE carbs, billet crank, Carillo rods, alloy pistons, 5-speed Hewland Mk 9 transaxle, driver’s rollbar and wraparound Plexiglas windshield and side windows. An F/modified giant killer ready to go racing with someone new which at this price it should have found.
1957 Porsche 356 Speedster
Lot # F132 1957 Porsche 356 Speedster, Body by Reutter; S/N 82856; Engine # P63442; Red/Tan leather, Red piping; Tan cloth top; Recent restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $157,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $166,420 — Bumper overriders, chrome wheels, dual outside mirrors, 1600cc engine from 1956, as is the body. Accurately and attractively restored and maintained, completed earlier this year. Good paint over filled body. Excellent chrome and interior. This is a competently restored and presented Speedster that isn’t too good to be driven. It was offered by Mecum at Indy in 2010 but didn’t sell at a bid of $127,000, then was reported sold at Indy in 2011 for $127,200. The restoration reportedly was completed subsequently. While the body filler is unsettling it’s not uncommon in Porsches of this era and the price it brought intelligently compromises the issues with the quality and presentation.
1936 Cord 810 Convertible Coupe Sportsman
Lot # F138 1936 Cord 810 Convertible Coupe Sportsman; S/N 8102386; Red/Black leather; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $155,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $164,300 — Cord fog lights, wide whitewalls, radio. A good older restoration showing a little age but not much use. Very good paint, chrome and interior. One of the most rare and sought Cord body styles, a dramatic contrast with the bread-and-butter Westchester and Beverly sedans. This is a sound and presentable car that should reward its next owner with pride of place at any ACD gathering.
1957 Jaguar XK 140 Roadster
Lot # S041 1957 Jaguar XK 140 Roadster; S/N S812485; Red/Tan leather; Older restoration, 3 condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $76,000 — Moto-Lita 4-spoke woodrim steering wheel, chrome wire wheels, 225/70R16 Goodyear radial tires, windwings, Lucas driving lights, fender mirrors. Sound paint, chrome and interior. Dirty engine begging for detailing, driver’s door cap leather discolored from use. Road grime on chassis. Authentically wavy bodywork. A used driver that could be much better after a thorough detailing. Reported sold by RM at St. Johns a month ago for $63,250, a gift to the consignor there who neglected its presentation shamelessly. If there was money for this car anywhere on the Hyatt golf course the seller should have taken it with gratitude.
1932 Alvis Speed 20 SA 4-Door Tourer, Cross and Ellis coachwork
Lot # S084 1932 Alvis Speed 20 SA 4-Door Tourer, Body by Cross & Ellis; S/N 14697; Engine # 10461; Ivory, Grey fenders/Red leather; Black cloth top; Older restoration, 2- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $125,000 — RHD. Red wire wheels, blackwall tries, dual sidemounts, wind wings, folding windshield, Lucas driving light, Andre Telecontrol shocks, huge wind wings, cutdown doors. Restored to like new condition with little evidence of subsequent use and a CCCA Senior winner. No longer fresh, but still attractive. Not many collectors credit Alvis for the exceptional cars they built, which is unfortunate. This is a sound, presentable and probably highly usable example of Alvis’s Speed model with triple carbs. While it should impart some important distinction to its next owner and has particularly sporting and unusual coachwork it will always require explanation and that makes this a reasonable bid for it at least in the US.
1931 Auburn 8-98 Boattail Speedster
Lot # S087 1931 Auburn 8-98 Boattail Speedster; S/N GU63191; Beige, Brown accent/Brown leather; Older restoration, 3- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $122,500 — Chrome wire wheels, whitewall tires, single Pilot-Ray. An older restoration that has seen many subsequent miles. Paint is sound but old, so is the upholstery. Chassis and underbody are grimy. Usable but not pretty. A tired older restoration of a less-desirable Auburn model that could have been sold for the reported high bid.
1939 Bentley 4.25 Litre Sunroof Coupe, Vanvooren Coachwork
Lot # S094 1939 Bentley 4 1/4 Liter Sunroof Coupe, Body by Vanvooren; S/N B132LS; Dark Blue/Dark Blue leather; Cosmetic restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $330,000 plus commission of 6.00%; Final Price $349,800 — RHD. Wheel discs, rear mounted spare, blackwall tires, sliding sunroof, roof rack mounts, Marchal headlights and fog light, fender mirrors, radio but antenna is broken. Sound but mediocre old repaint, good chrome. Cracked and torn original upholstery that is well beyond being described as patina. Chassis given some paint but little other attention. Good interior wood. There is nothing about being ‘sympathetically restored’ on this Bentley, but it still has particularly attractive coachwork that looks every bit the part of a rakish Continental tourer ready to gobble miles of autoroute with style and panache. It has serious concours potential, but needs a lot, a whole lot, to realize it. The price it brought is ample.

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Show Comments (5)

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  1. great coverage Rick with insiteful commentary. It seems like market forces are at work – with few exceptions, a near perfect vehicle and presentation are necessary to bring top dollar. And some interesting bargains to be had as well ! thanks !

  2. Love the honesty, the review on the Cadillac is frank, to say the least. At some auctioneers, one might expect such a car to be weeded out, or at least the information to be presented more accurately. Sad to see this is not the case at RM or Mecum. Such an issue is exactly what keeps more interested, yet novice buyers as myself on the sideline.

    1. GMan,
      The essence of the auction process is that the bidder is charged with the responsibility for examining the product and deciding what, if any, price to bid, a qualification that applies in any buyer-seller situation. The auction company isn’t the guarantor of the article, or the representation.
      While I agree in principle that Mecum would have done itself a favor by turning the Cadillac away at the door, on the other hand not all buyers expect, or want to pay for, a pristine ready-to-show car. Some, in fact, are looking for a project to adopt and nurture
      The situation at any live auction is much better than buying on-line: at least the bidders have the chance to see the car, slam the doors, open the hood, smell the interior and kick the tires.
      All the auction companies have a range of cars on offer. Even the most hoity-toity sometimes has to accept a [sub-] marginal car from a good consignor or as part of a package consignment with one or more particularly desirable cars.
      It’s not an excuse, but it is a reason.
      C’mon out and look at the cars. They’ll talk to you and it’s not difficult to separate the good from the bad.


      1. Rick, Thanks, I’m planning to go to Mecum in Kissimee in January for my first taste as a potential buyer. I went to Barrett-Jackson in West Palm in April as an observer, which was a lot of fun! Thanks and hope to meet you somewhere along the way.

  3. Rick is right when he says that the bidders on the Simplex plainly accepted the auction’s representation that it is the oldest known Simplex. Unfortunately, among many Simplex owners this faux automobile created quite a stir when it was assembled from various parts years ago with the sheet metal done for the car at that time.