Imagine a car show that you can attend, climb all over the cars and even go home with one. Sounds like a dream for the car enthusiast right? Well it is not a car show that I am talking about.
Instead I am referring to the Mecum Auto Auction.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2013 Mecum Auction Houston with media credentials. This is the second Mecum Auction that I have attended the first of which was in 2012. The event was held in the Reliant Center and it took up the entire exhibit hall. When I first walked onto the auction floor my eyes were greeted by a red carpet row of beautiful pristine cars, which ranged from a classic Porsche 356 Speedster S to a Ferrari Dino Replica, a pair of classic Jaguar XKs and a wonderful Ford Mustang Boss 427s. I then looked left and right and I saw cars all over the place. The lights bouncing off their shiny paint jobs dazzling my eyes.
Directly in front of me at the end of the red carpet was a large stand that was the booth for the Velocity television host. If you aren't already aware portions of the Mecum Auction are broadcasted live on the Velocity Network. Just past the TV tower were rows and rows of seats. These seats where divided into two sections, general seating/bidding and seats for those registered as Gold Bidders. The Gold seating consisted of just the first few rows closest to the auction block.
After my brain decided to switch sense the next thing I noticed was the sound. The first thing you hear when you walk in is a mix of the auctioneer on the block, the occasional sound of an engine being started up or revved, the Mecum staff working the bidders and the general chatter of the spectators and bidders walking around the floor. All of the sights and sounds are mixed with the smell of race gas, oil and exhaust fumes. For a car enthusiast that is new to the auction scene, initially stepping into the auction can be sensory overload. My advice, take a moment get your bearings and figure out your plan.
After the initial sensory assault that I experienced when walking onto the exhibit hall floor I began to take some time to check out the vehicles that were for sale. One of the great things about the Mecum Auctions is that you can literally climb all over the vehicles and check them out. You get to sit in them, pop the hood and inspect the fenders. Often times you can even talk to the owners and find out more about the cars before they go on the block.
As you walk around the cars that are on display for sale you really begin to understand why Mecum is Muscle Cars and More. There are all your classic muscle cars such as Mustang Boss 427s, Hemi 'Cudas, Chevy Camaros, and many others. The striking things is, how much of the auction falls into the "more" category, from boats, to motorcycles, to super exotics and my personal favorite classic British cars.
One of the most spectacular British car, and there were many, was a 1953 Jaguar XK 120 SE that sold at auction for $92,000. My good friend Berry Lowman of Motorama LIVE and I highlighted this vehicle in a video piece.
Video courtesy of Motorama LIVE via YouTube
Beyond the classic cars of old, were the number of modern day classics. Everything from 2007 Mercedes Benz AMGs to Dodge Vipers and a brand spanking new COPO Camaro. There was what appeared to be an ordinary 2010 Shelby Mustang KR for sale. Which was ordinary until you looked at the car’s pedigree. This particular car was Carol Shelby's own personal GT500KR and I got to sit in the same seat he sat in while driving the car. Now I may not be a huge Mustang fan but the emotions that came over me when I sat down in that car were almost indescribable. I was in total awe. It felt as if I had been given the right to wear the Crown Jewels. This may not have been the most spectacular car that Carol Shelby owned but just to be able to sit in the seat that he spent time in while undoubtedly hooning, almost brought tears to my eyes.
There were many other wonderful cars that I was able to look at. I wish there had been more time to just look, touch, and feel all the wonderful cars at the auction. After spending some time walking around admiring and getting my hands on so many wonderful and unique cars it was time to take in the action. I made my way up to the real action in the room, the auction itself. Just walking up toward the auction seating and block the energy increased exponentially. The lights are bright, cameras are everywhere and electricity and excitement are flowing. The Mecum staff is working the bidders and the auctioneer is drumming up as much excitement about the vehicle on the block as possible.
As the array of cars parade across the block, each one stopping and hoping the crowd has at least two willing bidders. The bidding on these cars is all over the place. It is all about having the right people, with the right amount of disposable cash and willingness to buy in the room. Sometimes a car will get up on the block and the bidding will be going along and then it just stalls out. At this point the seller may pull their reserve off, or the Mecum staff may be able to talk the bidders into increasing their bid. This truly is a place were peer pressure is part of the game and very important to getting the maximum amount for each car sold.
Not every car sells. The cars that do not sell go to what is known as "The Bid Goes On" section. Cars that land in the "Bid Goes On" section often times will end up selling with some deal being reached between a buyer and the seller. Not every car sells and not every car is bid on. In those unlucky cases the seller has to transport the car back home.
As I sat there on the auction block a number of vehicles came across that I wish I had bid on. There was a beautiful Triumph TR-3 that had the price not gone as high as it did and I had been a registered bidder I most likely would have gone home with. Lesson learned register to bid if there is anything you think you might want. Second lesson here is that at the end of the day after the live television coverage on Velocity is over with there are some great deals to be had. Let me tell you I had crawled all over that car, and knew what some of the issues were and still had determined it would be a great car to have. Sadly it ended up selling for $14,500 and went home to some one else.
Amongst all the lights, cars and people were cameras. Not just people taking pictures of the beautiful cars but big, bulk, heavy duty, professional television cameras. These cameras were on the shoulders of crewmembers from the cable network Velocity. Others were sitting on rigs that hung over the crowd and provided a birds eye view of the cars on the block. There is a huge integration between the television production of the auction and the running of the auction. Before and after the live broadcast of the auction hit the airwaves and televisions tuned into Velocity all over the country the network was working closely with Mecum. Throughout the entire auction the production company, Velocity, and Mecum all work together to make sure that the auction goes smoothly. What a fantastic job they do.
If you have never attended an auction before I suggest you do and if possible attend a Mecum Auction. Remember to wear good walking shoes, clear a full day of your schedule, bring a camera, register to bid and above all go have a great time. I know that every time I go to an automotive auction I have a blast and every time I kick myself for not registering to bid. Next time I will register to bid and who knows I might go home with something. ONLY WITH THE WIFE'S PERMISSION!