Mecum tests the waters of the boat market

Mecum Auctions tested the waters of the relatively untapped wooden boat market at its second Monterey sale in August, bringing five high-powered vintage speedboats down from Lake Tahoe for its $14,403,517 sale.

The five boats – including “Apache II,” a 1922, 29-foot Gentleman’s Race Boat powered by a V12 Liberty aircraft engine, and “Alacazar II”, a 1965 Riva Aquarama – brought in $1.25 million, suggesting the classic wooden boat market may have untapped depths.

“These are good results for the first time for a sale like this,” said Martin Feletto, owner of “Typhoon,” a 1929 Hacker 29-foot Dolphin deluxe Runabout that sold for $238,500. “These are the Duesenbergs of wooden boats, but a Duesenberg would cost you $1.5 million.”

Mecum is now headed to Minneapolis for a no-reserve auction of wooden boats on October 15 and 16.

“Dana (Mecum) said to find more boats, and we have a 100-boat, no-reserve auction of the Warner Collection in October,” said Scott Ales, Mecum’s boat expert.

The consigned boats from the Warner Collection include a 42-foot Moore, dating from 1909, and a 1996 33-foot “Baby Garwood” replica. Other marques for sale include Chris-Craft, Hacker, Garwood, Higgins, Century, Richards, Greavette, Sudlow and many others.

Mecum is also selling the “Elegante,” the 63-foot 1964 Whiticar Yacht commissioned by financier/philanthropist J.H. “Jock” Whitney in 1964. “Elegante” will be auctioned at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show on October 30 at 3 pm.

Mecum is setting a precedent for high-end boat sales. At Monterey, “Apache II” was the top seller, and the crowd pleaser. The lifelong Tahoe boat sold for $339,200.

“Typhoon” won best of show at Tahoe Yacht Club’s 2009 Concours d’Elegance. It’s one of nine survivors of the line produced in 1928-29 at a cost of $5,150. “Typhoon” had only three owners from new and only one hour operating time since a complete restoration.

“Alcazar II” is headed for Argentina with a father and three sons who traveled 6,000 miles to buy it for $307,400. It was restored in 2004/5 with rebuilt 350ci units and has only 120 hours on the restoration.

The 1940 Chris-Craft 27-foot Racing Runabout “Miss Arrowhead” stalled at $275,000 but was reportedly sold after the auction. It is the sole survivor of two built in 1940 with the Chris-Craft A-120-A 845ci 375hp V8, which advertised a top speed of 52 mph. Upholstered in startling green leather with a birds-eye maple dash, it has only 15 hours use since its 2007 restoration.

The 1955 18-foot Chris-Craft Cobra “Sassy,” with its stunning golden fiberglass superstructure and hallmark fin, sold for a measly $95,400 – quite the bargain. The boat’s a multiple Tahoe concours winner, and it was restored in 1987 and 2004.

In addition, five paintings of the boats by Lake Tahoe artist Rod Drier III each sold for $3,500, suggesting there may be a related, peripheral market as well.

“When boats start trading, they establish values and people have a basis on which to make good decisions at auctions,” Ales said. “It also means discoveries are drawn out of barns and people can see that restorations have a sound financial basis.”

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