13 sweet cars that stole the show at Mecum’s Indy auction
It’s not hard to pick highlights from Mecum Auctions’ 1850-vehicle Spring Classic held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds May 15–20, but the tough part is keeping the list from being dominated by Corvettes.
There were 237 Vettes in the Spring Classic consignment, including the Corvette Indy Pace Car collection of Keith Busse. The collection consisted of one Corvette Pace Car from each of the 14 years Corvette has paced the May classic, plus two other Indianapolis 500-related Corvettes: the car given to 2004 winner Buddy Rice and a track-driven 2004 Le Mans Commemorative Edition.
This was Mecum’s biggest-ever May auction, with a reported $65,842,294 changing hands (not including automobilia), easily surpassing last year’s $54.2M. The sell-through rate was 71.8 percent, not as good as last year’s 72 percent, but better than any of the prior years.
Although Corvettes and American cars—particularly muscle cars—always dominate Mecum’s Spring Classic, there was a vast selection of other vehicles this year, including a number of classic motorboats. Eighty-seven of the vehicles offered were built prior to World War II, and several drew six-figure bids.
The selection that follows highlights that diversity. These vehicles were reviewed on-site by Hagerty valuation experts Andrew Newton and Eric Nelson. You can find more on the other 174 lots here.
Estimate: $75,000–$100,000 (no reserve)
Final price: $110,000 ($100,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N 124679N614601; Dover White, Orange Pace Car graphics/Orange vinyl with houndstooth cloth inserts; 396/325 hp, four-speed, Rally wheels, Wide Oval tires, hidden headlights, 12-bolt rear with 3.07 gears, cowl induction hood, Hurst shifter.
Notes: Recent restoration, 2+ condition. The paint is excellent. Panel fit is good, although the doors could be adjusted a little bit better. Brightwork all looks new. The interior looks brand new. The engine compartment is spotless with no signs of use. Underneath is restored to better-than new. A fresh, showable genuine Z11 Pace Car represented as restored 200 miles ago.
Analysis: This Camaro pace car sold for $56,100 at Mecum’s Chicago auction in 2015 and for $79,200 at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale in 2016. Its result here is huge money even for a pace car as good as this one, especially at a sale where Keith Busse’s 16-car Corvette Pace Car Collection was one of the centerpieces. The Busse collection sold for $1.76 million, or an average of $110,000 per car. That’s exactly what was paid for this Camaro.
1967 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible (Bart Starr)
No pre-sale estimate. Offered with reserve.
Final price: Post-block $142,500 ($129,545 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N 194677S120233; Goodwood Green/Black vinyl, Black top; 327/300 hp, four-speed, Rally wheels, red line tires, telescopic steering column.
Notes: Unrestored original, 4 condition. Awarded new to Bart Starr as MVP of Super Bowl I. Rough, ratty engine bay. Dull chrome. Badly crazed paint. Sound interior. Whichever Packers fan bought this car will have a difficult decision of whether to restore this somewhat significant piece of sports history or leave it as is.
Analysis: Hammered not sold on the block at a $150,000 high bid, then reported sold post-block for $142,500 all-in, both massive numbers for a base engine ’67 in such rough shape to everyone but Packers’ fans, who regard with reverence Bart Starr’s bum prints in the scroungy seats.
Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Collection
Estimate: Aggregate high of $1,565,000, with reserve.
Final price: $1,760,000 ($1.6 million plus commission of 10%)
Specs: Keith Busse’s collection of 16 Indy 500 Corvette Pace Cars comprising all 14 years when Corvettes paced the race, plus two others with special connections to the race.
Notes: Not individually evaluated, most were delivery miles, all were meticulously preserved, many were NCRS Top Flight and Bloomington Gold.
Analysis: Offered first as a single collection with the individual cars to be offered later individually if the collection didn’t sell. The aggregate pre-sale high estimates were $1,565,000, which placed a substantial premium on the collection as a whole. Several Corvette Pace Cars were never available to the public, putting a notable premium on those as well. It was an epic moment as Dana Mecum moved through the assembled cars putting “Mecum Sold” stickers on each car.
Estimate: $425,000–$600,000, with reserve
Final price: Post-block $429,000 ($390,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N 30837S108065; Riverside Red/Red vinyl; 327/360 hp fuel injection Z06 big tank, four-speed, centerlock wheels, Silvertown blackwalls, radio delete, 4.11 Positraction.
Notes: Older restoration, 2- condition. From the Richard Cohen Big Tank collection. Fine cracks and crazing in the paint. Good chrome. Some odd yellowing on the transmission tunnel trim. Tidy but used underneath. Restored many years ago and has long since started to show its age, but solid overall and with very desirable equipment.
Analysis: Hammered not sold at a $355,000 high bid on the block, which really was too light and reported sold by Mecum post-block but without an amount later on Mecum’s website. This result was observed earlier before being obscured. The reported post-block price is fairer to the car’s strengths but still realistically takes into account the age of the restoration.
Estimate: $175,000–$225,000, with reserve
Final price: $286,000 ($260,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N M591100459; Black, Red grille/Tan leather, Black vinyl top; 413/380 hp, cross-ram dual quads, automatic, wheel covers, whitewalls, dual mirrors, factory air conditioning, power windows, power antenna, power swivel seats, power mirror, push-button automatic, push-button radio.
Notes: Older restoration, 1- condition. One of only 140 built. Numerous show awards to its credit dating back to the early 2000s. Very good paint and brightwork. Perfect, clean top. Light wrinkling to the seats but otherwise great interior. Mostly exquisite, but not super fresh.
Analysis: Although it isn’t quite the showstopper it once was, the quality of the work translated to this monumental price, which is a far cry from almost anything with a Chrysler badge and certainly a long way from the $71,280 that this car sold for at Barrett-Jackson back in 2001.
Estimate: $150,000–$200,000, with reserve
Final price: $137,500 ($125,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: Two-door hardtop, S/N XX29J9B248656; Bright White, Black tail stripe/Black cloth; 426/425-hp Hemi, automatic, hub caps, red line tires, Hemi, power steering, power brakes, power windows, rear defrost, tinted glass, AM 8-track stereo, bucket seats, console, floor shift, Tic-Toc-Tach, original window sticker, dealer and sales invoice documented.
Notes: Visually maintained, largely original, 2- condition. Represented as a genuine Hemi Charger 500 with 44,260 miles from new. Used but tidy engine bay. Looks like an original but maintained underbody. Very good older paint. Very good mostly original interior. Light age on a well-kept and unrestored but not totally original car.
Analysis: Sold for $145,800 at Kissimmee in 2015, $165,000 at Barrett-Jackson Palm Beach three months later, $101,200 at Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale last year, and bid to $120,000 here last year. It’s a sweet Hemi in nearly flawless condition showing only a little age and a few miles on its odometer (410 since it was offered at Auburn Fall in 2000.) It could have brought a little more without being unreasonable and is a good value at this result even if the Hemi gloss has worn thin.
Estimate: $125,000–$140,000, with reserve
Final price: $154,000 ($140,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: Two-door hardtop; S/N XS29J9B215858; Black/Black. 426/425-hp Hemi, automatic, hub caps, red line tires, A32 Super Performance Axle, 4.10 Dana 60 rear, power brakes, bucket seats, console, floor shift, factory radio.
Notes: Older restoration, 2- condition. From the Harold Messner collection. Restored but used engine bay. Slightly dull chrome. Sound older paint. Chip on the passenger’s door. Scratched up window frames. Good mostly restored interior. A real deal Hemi Charger that doesn’t need anything before going out to burn some rubber, but it deserved a little more attention to cleanup and details.
Analysis: The combination of power, equipment and condition worked together to bring a handsome but fully deserved price for this Charger R/T Hemi and demonstrated yet again that the ‘Hemi’ appellation still dusts a car with magic in the market.
Estimate: $60,000–$65,000, no reserve
Final price: $59,400 ($54,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N 1B3ER69E7TV200041; Viper Blue, White stripes/Black leather; 8.0-liter/450 hp, six-speed, power steering, factory CD stereo, air conditioning, chrome wheels.
Notes: Unrestored original, 2 condition. Represented with 5670 believable miles and finished in the requisite Viper GTS colors. Some forgivable detail scratches in the paint and flatness on the driver’s seat, but otherwise a fantastic collector grade early GTS.
Analysis: Low-mileage early Vipers have done very well at auction over the past year. This has led Mecum to consign more and more of them, but the demand is certainly still there, as yet another very strong result demonstrates.
1932 Packard Light 8 Coupe Roadster
Estimate: $200,000–$215,000, with reserve
Final price: $214,500 ($195,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N 5591009; Paquin Green, Olive/Brown leather, Beige cloth top; wire wheels with hubcaps and trim rings, whitewalls, dual enclosed sidemount spares, Goddess of Speed mascot, rumble seat, golf bag door, Waltham dash clock.
Notes: Recent restoration, 1- condition. Very good fresh paint and brightwork. Very good, tight newer top. Spotless underneath. Slight discoloration on the rear tires. The speedometer and clock are original and slightly faded, but the rest of the gauges are replacements. The rest of the interior is mostly good, but there are a few flaws in the door trim. Represented as a recent restoration and a very attractive car, but in the details it’s just not up to the kind of standards that would win it a major show trophy and it’s a Light 8, thus not a CCCA Full Classic™.
Analysis: This is an excellent car, and we’ve seen Light 8 Coupe Roadster bring more than this in not much if any better condition. It’s a quality, beautiful Packard at a realistic price.
Estimate on request, with reserve
Final price: $77,000 ($70,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: Two-door hardtop; S/N RS23J9A186123; Limelight Green, Black vinyl roof/Black vinyl. 426/426-hp Hemi, four-speed, red line tires, air grabber hood, 3.54 Track Pack, Hurst shifter, wood rim steering wheel, factory radio.
Notes: Older restoration, 2- condition. One of 98 Hemi GTX hardtops for 1969. Clean restored engine bay. Slightly tired chrome. Light pitting on the trim on the tail. Chips at the back of the doors. Some lightly worn switchgear but mostly good restored interior. A genuine car in great colors, which counts for a lot, although this isn’t a show car.
Analysis: Although this isn’t the best GTX Hemi out there, it is more than good enough, and with its four-speed manual transmission it could have brought a little more without being expensive.
Estimate: $70,000–$90,000, with reserve
Final price: $74,250 ($67,500 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: Two-door hardtop; S/N RS23J77128057; Blue/Blue vinyl; 426/425 hp Hemi, dual quads, 4-speed, Rally wheels, red line tires, power steering, power brakes, bucket seats, console, Hurst pistol grip shifter, push-button radio, Sunpro under dash gauges.
Notes: Older restoration, 2- condition. One of 733 Hemi GTXs in 1967 and one of 312 with a four-speed. Tidy older restored engine bay. Good older paint and chrome. Lightly scratched door handles. Factory gaps. A few cracks in the steering wheel but mostly very good restored interior. Desirably equipped and attractive real Hemi GTX. It needs nothing, but isn’t a show car.
Analysis: A no-sale at Mecum Harrisburg in 2015 with a reported high bid of $65,000, it sold here in 2016 for $69,300. It is impossible to divine any market movement in the price it brought today except that the market’s not doing much of anything in terms of expansion (or contraction.)
Estimate $80,000–$100,000, with reserve
Final price: $80,300 ($73,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N 242677Z122896; Regimental Red/Black vinyl, Black top; 400/335 hp, automatic, red line tires, wood rim steering wheel, Hurst dual gate shifter, tilt steering column, power steering, power brakes, power windows, power driver’s seat, older upgraded stereo, PHS documents.
Notes: Older restoration, 2+ condition. Represented as matching numbers. GTOAA National award winning GTO in 2012. Paint looks amazing with only a couple very small blemishes. Brightwork all looks brand new. Panel fit is spot on. Engine compartment is very clean and showing very little wear. The interior looks brand new with no wear. Underneath looks just as good as above. An older body-off restoration that is still holding up quite well.
Analysis: Sold by Mecum in the December 2013 Kansas City auction for $73,830, fresh from restoration and showing 12 miles on its odometer—against 3600 today. The fact that it looks just as good today as it did five years and 3500 miles ago is a real credit to the intervening owner(s) and the care the car has received. The price it brought, up by 5.8 percent (taking into account the 7-percent commission in 2013 and the 10-percent commission today) pretty much reflects the GTO market and it is still as good a value today as it was then.
Estimate: $100,000–$150,000, with reserve
Final price: $154,000 ($140,000 plus commission of 10%)
Specs: S/N AZ362595; Green, Light Green/Green vinyl piped in White; German market Samba with hubcaps, whitewalls, roof rack, banjo steering wheel, dash clock, 2100-cc engine with dual Webers.
Notes: Modified restoration, 2- condition. Several paint chips throughout and a large crack on the driver’s door. Dull brightwork. Lightly worn interior. Uneven door gaps. Nowhere near as good as many of the over-restored 23-Window examples to come to auction recently, and powered by an incorrect (although much more powerful and usable) engine.
Analysis: 23-Window Volkswagens are on an absolute tear, and it seems that it’s not just the concours-ready examples that score high bidding activity. It looks like any genuine 23-Window in decent condition is a six-figure vehicle these days.