Mecum Auctions blew through Chicago last week for its annual three-day event in the Windy City; and as is the case in every collector car auction, there were some ups and downs, some surprises and some disappointments.
Overall, Mecum’s success in Chicago this year is on par with the success that the company achieved during its three-day Chicago auction in 2015. That being said, the extent to which prospective buyers were willing to bid during the final day—when the event’s most prestigious lots crossed the block—provides further evidence that the perceived value of many collector cars has regressed slightly over the last 365 days.
First, the good news: On two of the three days, the top lots sold each day surpassed the values of the top lots sold on those respective days a year ago. On Thursday, for example, a 2007 Mercedes-Benz CL600 Coupe sold for $38,000—$3,000 more than a 1971 Chevrolet Cheyenne Pickup Truck that sold on the first day of the 2015 auction. Similarly, a 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Fastback sold for $245,000 on Saturday, establishing itself as the premiere vehicle sold during the event. Last year, a 2005 Ford GT sold for $230,000 on Saturday, also the high watermark for that particular auction.
The average hammer price for vehicles that reached six-figure bids on the final day of the auction was also higher this year than in 2015. Of the four vehicles that sold on Saturday for six figures, a 1988 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet (previously owned by retired Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen) commanded the least, selling for US $100,000. The most expensive was the aforementioned 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Fastback (US $245,000). Overall, the average value of Mecum’s six-figure cars on the final day in Chicago (US $151,375) was more than $11,000 higher than the average value of the six figure cars ($140,357) sold during the final day of the Chicago auction in 2015.
Now, for the not-so-good news: Only 33 percent of the vehicles that reached six-figure bids on Saturday actually sold in 2016, down from the 37 percent that sold on Saturday in 2015. What’s more, only a dozen lots reached the six-figure plateau this year, compared to 19 a year ago. Noteworthy cars that surpassed $100,000 in bids but failed to meet their reserves include a 1969 Chevrolet COPO Chevelle (US $120,000 high bid), a 1964 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Roadster (US $135,000 high bid), and a 2004 Acura NSX-T (US $120,000 high bid).
A 1968 Ford Mustang Cobra Jet Lightweight also failed to sell despite reaching a high bid of US $200,000. Interestingly, when that car last crossed the block as a part of Mecum’s Indianapolis auction in May it sold for US $140,000 against an estimate of US $175,000 to US $225,000. Clearly, the car’s consigner has set a much higher reserve on this rare Mustang than did its previous owner.
Mecum’s recent Chicago auction also provided further insight to suggest that turbocharged Porsche coupes and cabriolets from the 1970s and ʼ80s could be primed for value appreciation. In addition to Pippen’s 1988 Cabriolet selling for US $100,000, a turbocharged 1986 Porsche Ruf BTR achieved a high bid of US $115,000, while the bidding on a 1977 Porsche 930 Turbo peaked at US $110,000—two noteworthy developments, considering that no Porsche turbo from the ʼ70s or ʼ80s surpassed US $85,000 during Mecum’s Chicago auction in 2015.
Mecum’s next auction is in Dallas from Nov. 2-5.
Photos courtesy of Mecum Auctions.