Mecum Las Vegas preview: Star cars, what to watch, and hidden gems
by Michael Austin and Andrew Newton //
Mecum rolls into the Las Vegas Convention Center Nov. 16–18 for its annual auction, and as usual there is a massive list of lots. We sifted through the list and picked out a few cars that we’ll be watching closely.
If you want to follow along at home, the auction will be streamed online via Facebook Live on Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18 from 2:30–8:30 p.m. Eastern time both days.
Shelby Cobras aren’t known for comfort, but this Cobra offers one concession in the form of two-pedal driving with its C4 automatic transmission. Apparently fewer than 20 Cobra 289s were so equipped. We’ve seen this car at auction a couple of times in recent years. It failed to reach the minimum with a $1 million high bid at Mecum Indy in 2015, and went not sold again at Mecum Monterey last year at $950,000.
The 300SL roadster is valued lower than the legendary gullwing, but the hardtop’s fixed windows make it an Easy-Bake Oven on hot days. Considering the convertible’s conventional doors and the roadster is a more usable car. This example was delivered new in Venezuela and stayed there until 2014. The pictures suggest excellent condition, but with no mention of restoration this car could be more a driver than a concours car (which is just fine).
This auction features several cars owned by Les Quam, a collector known for high-quality purchases, and the Yenko is arguably the best of those offerings. It has several older concours wins to its credit, and is well-documented. (Hagerty columnist Colin Comer also bought this car 10 years ago.)
The pinnacle of NASCAR homologation, the Superbird’s nose and giant rear wing were crafted specifically for superspeedway dominance and only sold in showrooms for one model year. This specific example was bid to $300,000 but didn’t sell at Mecum Kissimmee earlier this year. It is notable for being an original, unrestored, genuine car. The only thing that would make it more appealing is a four-speed manual.
Broncos, Blazers, and all other form of vintage truck and SUV are red-hot in the market right now. It will be interesting to see if the more-obscure Ramcharger garners similar interest. This was the last year of the Ramcharger in the U.S., with the design (and the equivalent Ram pickup) dating back to 1981.
High-performance fourth-gen Mustangs have stopped depreciating and seem ready for growth. Special performance models like the SVT Cobra will be the most collectible in the future, so it will be interesting to see what this sells for as it transitions from used car to classic.
With Viper production at an end (RIP), nostalgia seem to have picked up for these cars in the collector market. First-year GTS coupes like this were previously seen as less appealing due to lower output and some early production gremlins, but they’re now on the rise. Don’t be surprised if good examples hit six figures in a few years. Mecum is clearly trying to repeat its success from the Dallas auction in September: There are 10 Vipers on the list in Vegas, most with absurdly low miles.
A more sought-after (and more valuable) 1959 23-window model will cross the block later in the sale, and there’s a chance bidders will wait for that instead of jumping on the first VW they see. With a correct, full restoration, this 11-window could be a bargain, at least as far as VW Transporters are concerned.
You almost never see a Coronet wagon in any kind of condition; Mecum says this is one of only 991. And this one is quite nice, fully loaded with a 383, factory air, power steering and brakes, roof rack, and a rear-facing bench seat in the back.
Opel obscurity among American drivers plays to the buyer’s advantage here. The cute factor is pretty huge and you’d almost certainly have the only one in town, and if it sells it will probably go for pretty cheap.
JAPANESE DOMESTIC MARKET SPECIALS
Mecum has several right-hand-drive cars recently imported from Japan in the Vegas auction, like a 1992 Mazda RX-7 with showroom-new miles. There’s also a very nice 1990 Honda NSX and a 1991 Toyota Supra. Our favorites, however, are the cars that never sold in the U.S. market, like the Toyota Century or this one-of-500 1989 Toyota Soarer hardtop convertible. Now that 25-year-old examples are easy to import, it will be interesting to see where prices go on cars like these, with increased supply offset by greater demand as late Generation X and early Millennial buyers begin to realize their adolescent, Gran Turismo dreams.