Big engines keep Mecum's highest sellers at the very top

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — With more than 3,300 items stashed in various Indiana State Fair buildings here, the Mecum staff rang up sales of over $50 million in its 24th Original Spring Classic Action May 17-22.

The well-kept fairgrounds provide a perfect setting for a display of vehicles and automobilia like gas pumps and neon signs. Cars were parked inside and under tents. Most appeared to be prepped and ready for sale.

Top sellers were those with big engines — in the case of a Prevost motorhome, big in size. A 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda brought a $550,000 auction hammer price. Chevys, a Shelby Cobra 289, a Ferrari, a Thunderbird and a Prevost Featherlite Vantare were among the top 10.

There were the usual sale/no-sale surprises. Generous bids were sometimes refused; low ones were accepted.

A handsome 1954 Buick Custom Skylark with wire wheels seemed a bargain at $55,000. Someone paid $10,000 for a 1942 Chevrolet Army truck, noted as one of the Vehicles of Victory. Another bidder was willing to put up $78,000 for a 1951 Hudson Commodore convertible — one of 181 convertibles produced that year, according to a sign at the car.

But the owner of a loaded 1959 Oldsmobile 98 convertible with 384-inch engine rejected the highest bid of $71,000 and a best bid of $95,000 for a 1964 Dodge 330 with “original Hemi” was not accepted by the seller.

Beautiful street rods had mixed success. The seller of a 1934 Ford Pro Street coupe with Outlaw Pro Street body and chassis which had eaten up some $270,000 in work over the years turned down a high bid of $80,000. A 1933 Ford Victoria dubbed Laid-Back Vicky brought $70,000 — enough to satisfy the seller. It was advertised with Downs body and frame, chromed street and performance ZZ430 fuel-injected engine and a TCI “Street Fighter” transmission with 2,500 stall converter.

Good deals? Probably the heavily modified 1957 GMC Suburban with 2000 Corvette LSl engine and a new interior that went for $56,000. And the handsome 1938 Packard with Cadillac 470 V-8, air condition and power steering that sold for $35,000. A nice-looking 1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight coupe with trademark wrap-around rear window and bullet nose raised a high bid of $20,000 which the seller rejected. Neat car, but probably a tough sell.A 1967 Chevelle L79 replica with new crate GM motor and four-speed T-10 transmission seemed like a good buy at $23,000, as did a a 1972 Jaguar XKE convertible that sent for $75,000.

Mecum reported a nearly 80 percent sell-through rate on more than 3,300 lots offered. That total comprised 1,918 vehicles, with 1,249 or 66 percent selling at the hammer price of $47 million plus, which continues to rise with Bid Goes On sales, the Marengo, Ill.-based company said.


Mecum’s 2011 Original Spring Classic Top 10 Vehicle Sales were:

1. 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda at $550,000

2. 2006 Prevost Featherlite Vantare H3-45 at $525,000

3. 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 Roadster at $490,000

4. 1967 Chevrolet Nickey/Bill Thomas 427 Stage III Camaro at $400,000

5. 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Super Camaro at $345,000

6. 1969 Chevrolet ZL1 Camaro at $305,000

7. 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona at $265,000

8. 1969 Chevrolet Yenko Chevelle at $260,000

9. 1957 Ford Thunderbird Phase I D/F at $260,000

10. 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda at $225,000