Mecum tests the waters of the boat market

“Alcazar II” sold for $307,400 at Mecum Monterey. It was restored in 2004/5 with rebuilt 350ci units and has only 120 hours on the restoration.

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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