Auction preview: American Muscle, ‘50s luxury, Japanese performance at Mecum Chicago

Mecum’s annual Chicago auction, held since 2013 at the Schaumburg Convention Center, always features hundreds of muscle cars, hot rods, resto-mods, and late-model sports and exotics. A 1969 Boss 429 Mustang at $245,000 headlined last year’s auction, which totaled $10.5 million in sales. This year there are cars from eight private collections consigned (including NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri’s cars), and the 10 most interesting lots are outlined below.

1966 Dodge Charger Hemi
Hagerty Price Guide: $53,800–$119,000
Lot 170.1

1966 dodge charger hemi mecum auction

The Charger was born in 1966, the product of placing an elegant fastback roofline onto the mid-size B-body Coronet. The Charger was also one of the earlier Chrysler models to get the 426 Hemi V-8, although only 468 of the engines were built that first year. The example on offer in Chicago is one of the more desirable muscle cars out of the Adam Vinatieri Collection, and it is loaded with the Track Pak, Sure Grip differential, and bucket seats. The Hemi, however, is the real attraction.

Result: This listing disappeared from the Mecum website and does not list a result.

1968 Shelby GT500 Fastback
Hagerty Price Guide: $82,500–$155,000
Lot S172

1966 mustang shelby gt500 mecum auction

The 1968 model year was the second for the big-block GT500 model, with its 428-cid V-8. It was also the last year before the Mustang got a facelift, which most agree just isn’t as pretty as the ’67 and ’68 cars like this one. Mecum’s example is finished in unusual-but-attractive Sunlit Gold paint and comes equipped with the desirable four-speed transmission. 

Result: Not sold at $85,000.

1963 Chevrolet Corvette 327/300-hp Split Window Coupe
Hagerty Price Guide: $48,900–$147,000
Lot F148

1963 corvette split window mecum auction

The ’63 Corvette on offer in Chicago may only have the 300-hp L75 engine and a Powerglide automatic, but it also has rare and desirable options like factory air conditioning, power windows and tinted glass. It has also been body-off restored and Bloomington Gold certified. But even without that, the one-year-only Split Window Coupe is always special.

Result: Sold at $110,000.

1953 Chevrolet Corvette
Hagerty Price Guide: $161,000–$360,000
Lot F145

1953 chevy corvette roadster white mecum auction

The highlight of the Mercurio collection consigned for Chicago this year, which includes a plethora of Corvettes, is this 1953 Roadster. The ’53 Corvette was an unremarkable performer, but it is great to look at, there were only 300 of them built, and it was the first production year for America’s sports car. They’re inherently collectible. This one was restored 20 years ago but has clocked just 50 miles in that time, which likely indicates a pampered life as a show car.

Result:  Not sold at $225,000.

1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Super Duty

Hagerty Price Guide: $52,300–$111,000
Lot  S124

1974 pontiac trans am sd 455 red bandit mecum auction

As emissions regulations and other factors choked the life out of the classic American muscle car, Pontiac went out with a bang with these special Firebirds, equipped with 455-cid Super Duty V-8s rated at 290 hp. The one on offer in Chicago has full documentation and lots of desirable options. As collectors started recognizing these cars as representing the end of an era, prices started rising in 2014 and have remained high.

Result: Not sold at $55,000.

2001 BMW Z8 Roadster
Hagerty Price Guide: $129,000–$273,000
Lot S91.1

2001 bmw z8 hardtop mecum chicago alpina

With a V-8 from the M5 and gorgeous styling inspired by the classic 507 Roadster, the Z8 was a classic pretty much right out of the box. Less than 6,000 were built, so many have enjoyed careful ownership from new. Mecum’s example is represented with a little over 16,000 miles, and while that is somewhat on the high side for an early-2000s instant collectible, it means you could actually get out there and enjoy this car without feeling the guilt of every single digit added to the odometer.

 Result: Not sold at $150,000.

1947 Chrysler Town and Country Convertible
Hagerty Price Guide: $61,600–$203,000
Lot S24

1947 chrysler town and country woodie convertible mecum auction

The name “Town and Country” is mostly associated with station wagons and even minivans in more recent times. But for a few years in postwar America, the Town and Country was available as a glorious two-door convertible with what looks like a small forest’s worth of contrasting white ash and Honduran mahogany wood framing the body. The lavish convertible model only lasted until 1949, and today it is recognized as a CCCA Full Classic, which opens it up to event eligibility.

 Result: Not sold at $66,000.

1953 Buick Roadmaster Skylark Convertible
Hagerty Price Guide: $70,000–$174,000
Lot S106

1953 buick roadmaster mecum chicago auction 2017

The first Skylarks were a submodel of the Roadmaster line, introduced to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, selling for an incredible $5,000-plus in 1953. Even at such a high price, Buick was able to move almost 1,700 of these range-topping Motorama-inspired convertibles. Mecum’s example has only seen only 300 miles since a body-off restoration.

Result: Not sold at $125,000.

1937 Cord 810 Westchester
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot S30.1

mecum chicago 17 1937 cord

The Gordon Buehrig-designed front-drive Cord 810/812 is most collectible in its convertible form, but it was sold in a graceful sedan body style and with suicide doors up front. The “Beverly” sedan model has armchair rear seats, while the “Westchester” sedan like Mecum’s has a full-width rear seat.

Result: Sold at $39,500.

1992 Nissan Skyline GT-R
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot S75

mecum chicago 1992 nissan skyline gt-r r32

Now that those R32 Skylines we’ve all been dreaming about for years are starting to turn 25—the magic number that allows Americans to legally import them—they are starting to show up on our shores. Good examples occasionally pop up at collector car auctions, and a near-perfect 1992 GT-R with only 6,700 km on the odometer went for $86,900 at the most recent Bonham’s Quail Lodge Auction. Mecum’s example is represented with about 51,000 actual miles and does not seem to have any major modifications, which is a big plus.

Result: Sold at $34,000.

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