Mecum’s spring classic car sale blows past 2015 total

Mecum Auctions resorted to its boarding-house reach as auction sales and post-sale deals pushed the Indianapolis spring sale toward $50 million.

Of 1,567 cars offered May 17-21, a reported 1,094 cars had changed hands early the following week, with many likely still in negotiations. Three days after the official event, sales totaled over $48 million, a handsome gain from $43 million in 2015.

>> Browse a photo gallery of the Mecum Auctions sale

The Illinois-based auction company’s 29th spring sale at the accommodating Indiana State Fair Grounds in Indianapolis filled several large buildings with vehicles from extensive personal collections to cars and trucks offered by individuals.

European marques like Ferrari, Jaguar and Porsche seemed out of place in a sale of largely post-war collectibles from American auto makers.

Shelbys were the darlings this year, with two Cobras and a GT350 the highest sellers. Their combined sales totaled some $2.5 million.

Among the slightly less exotic cars were celebrities like the 1962 Corvette show car, said to have been built for the Chicago Auto Show. Dressed in the understated elegance of Firmest Gold, the Corvette was reported to have had invitations to concours and design shows. It sold for $150,000.

A 1955 Chrysler, referred to by its seller as the “first muscle car” and built for NASCAR competitions, did not sell following a high bid of $70,000.

1939 Cab Over Engine Ford

A short bed and muscular cab made this 1939 Cab Over Engine Ford a standout among the hundreds of vehicles for sale at Mecum’s spring sale in Indianapolis. It did not sell for an auction bid of $102,000.

The 1939 Ford Cab-Over-Engine custom looked like a serious work truck from the front and a great lowered street rod from the side and rear. The seller said it was the work of Richard Graves at Richards Hot Rods in southern California, a two-and-a-half year project that included combining two Ford truck beds from very different model years (1940 and 1956), cut and widened ’40 fenders, custom running boards and an exotic truck bed. A high auction bid of $102,000 was not enough to complete its sale.

Another car that left the auction building unsold was a 1930 Packard 733 Phaeton, described by its owner as ideal for turn-key driving or as a touring vehicle as an alternative to a fresh restoration. The dual-cowl Packard had an earlier restoration and a recent engine renewal.

“I’ve had the car about five years,” said Robert Lederer. “I don’t know when the earlier restoration was.” Previous owners passed away and there were no records of this kind with the 733.

Its vacuum tank and two carburetors were original, rare and in working order, according to Lederer, adding that the carburetor currently under the hood is from the 1950s. The originals are in a box with the car.

The Packard included some original tools, side-mount spares with locks and chrome hub covers and driving lights. Bidding did not go above $52,500 and the phaeton was not sold at auction  or in after-sale bidding, which was part of the Mecum experience.

Lederer, who lives in the Chicago area, said he had never sold at a Mecum event.

“I went with four cars and came home with two,” he said.

Not bad for a first timer.

1957 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible

Looking as tempting as the day it rolled off the assembly line, a 1957 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible had a high bid of $100,000 but did not sell at auction.