Thirteen Days in Kissimmee

Rick Carey

Mecum Kissimmee is simply unlike any other collector car auction, even the major multi-auction weeks at Amelia Island and Monterey. Why? It’s the scale of it all. This year Kissimmee exceeded 4000 vehicle lots, rolling across the block in a continuous span of 13 days. The sell-though rate was a modest 69.9% but a record total of $225.5M changed hands. It wasn’t always this massive, though.

When Mecum Auctions first ventured into Florida in 2010, the state was a site of auction confusion. No one—other than the auctions at Amelia Island—had much effect with a major consignment (“run what you brung”) auction on the scale of Auburn Fall, Scottsdale, or even Mecum’s longtime signature event, the Spring Classic at Indianapolis.

Before Mecum arrived in the Sunshine State, other auctions’ car counts were modest, as were sale rates, even accepting the auction companies’ claims as true. Florida, despite benign weather and a welcome respite from northern snow and cold, was a sideshow. Many tried, few held on.

Rick Carey

Then came Mecum’s first sale there in 2010, right out of the box with the first Florida auction to offer over 1000 lots. They sold 78.1% of the lots offered, comparable with RM’s 79.4% of 466 lots at Ft. Lauderdale and Barrett-Jackson’s 78.7% of 464 lots at West Palm later that spring.

Mecum Kissimmee hit a stable groove after that, stalling at 2158 lots/77.9% sale rate in 2012, 2595 lots/70.1% in 2013, 2743 lots/72.3% in 2014, 2332 lots/65% in 2015, 2434 lots/55.3% in 2016. Great numbers, but not earth-shaking.

COVID was the watershed moment when there were two Mecum Kissimmee auctions. Neither (in January and August) was remarkable, nor was post-COVID in 2021 with 2203 lots and a modest 56.5% sale rate, but it was the first time Kissimmee exceeded $100 million with sales of $113,621,932. It took until 2022 for the car count to push over 3000 with 85.8% of them selling and a total of $204.3M.

A delicious 1912 Simplex offered in Kissimmee this year Rick Carey

Physically, Mecum Kissimmee is a monumental enterprise covering the 200 acres of the Osceola Heritage Park. In addition to two permanent structures, the Silver Spurs Arena and the Events Center, over 20 acres are under temporary tents and enclosures that run, literally, as far as the eye can see. It makes for long days, short nights, and miles of walking. An acquaintance said on Friday he’d already logged 10½ miles on his pedometer.

It takes 450 people to conduct the sale, doing everything from moving cars to and from display areas to manning the food courts (yes, there are two of them). Every display zone had one or more area managers to answer questions. Three of the tents are glass-sided and house Main Attraction and feature cars.

Rick Carey

This year Mecum added a separate indoor display housing several of the Main Attraction seven- and eight-figure Ferraris against a black background with elegant (and effective) lighting. This bunch represented about a third of the 40 Ferraris offered, and included the week’s top sale, 1963 250 GT SWB California Spyder (s/n 4137) that changed hands for a generous $17,875,000.

That gorgeous California Spyder is also indicative of an ever-increasing number of million-dollar cars at Kissimmee with 23 lots bid to $1M or more, of which 13 were sold for a total of $52,745,000. No-sales on the block included two Ferraris that were bid to even more than the Cal Spyder.

But despite the presence of six- and seven-figure cars, the bulk of Kissimmee is about affordable cars (and trucks) that represent achievable gratification. The median transaction was a modest $38,500 including Mecum’s 10% buyer’s commission.

Nearly 20 Mopar wing cars crossed the block in Kissimmee Rick Carey

There were 531 Chevrolet Corvettes, 16 Plymouth Road Runner Superbirds, three of the much rarer Dodge Charger Daytonas, and 25 ‘60s and ‘70s Hemi Mopars. Mustangs? 126 of them just from the era before the Mustang II and at least three “Eleanor” replicas. It seemed like there was a Bronco or a Land Cruiser in every tent, something that was especially appropriate given the rain that had turned some of the walkways into bogs, despite the application of dump truck loads of bark and wood mulch.

Buyers of Mecum’s “Road Art” could get their new decor home in one of 457 pickups in the auction, including a pair of gorgeous Chevys with NAPCO four-wheel drive conversions.

Tucker 48 Mecum Kissimmee front
A Tucker 48 (one of 50), sold for $1.87M Mecum

There was a Tucker (one of 50 built) that sold for $1,870,000, a delicious 1912 Simplex bid to $325,000. Eccentric farmers could choose from tractors by Porsche or Lamborghini. “Cute” included a 1992 Autozam AZ-1 kei car with 657cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine sold for $21,450 and a 1941 Bantam convertible sold for $30,800. An inexplicable 1982 HMV “Freeway II” coupe 3-wheeler (so diminutive it should never venture even close to a freeway) was bid to $3500. Imagination and creativity was nowhere better expressed than by “Dueception”, a ’32 Ford Phaeton hot rod with the complete drivetrain from a 4.5 litre Porsche 928 V-8.

The plain fact is that anywhere on the 200-acre grounds of the Osceola Heritage Park there was something that was intriguing, creative, beautiful, or interesting. That is the real charm of Mecum Kissimmee, aside from the disarming $225M that changed hands.

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Comments

    Great , succinct article by Mr Carey. Witty & informative with a nice touch of humor making it a pleasant read. I was there and as is so often not the case, Rick’s descriptions were consistent with what In actually experienced.
    Thank you,
    Scott Elsbree, MD

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