Mecum Auctions, Hyatt Regency, Monterey, California, August 18-20, 2016
To appreciate what Mecum Auctions represents during the auction orgy on the Monterey peninsula consider that a dozen years ago in 2004 the entire collector car auction total, Christie’s, Bonhams, RM and Russo and Steele, was just over $47 million.
The 364 cars offered that year were barely more than half of the consignment gathered on Mecum’s Del Monte Golf Club fairways and the 303 sold were almost exactly the same as Mecum moved on to new owners this week.
And Mecum’s eyebrow-raising sale of a LaFerrari for $5,170,000 was more than Bonhams entire $5,112,000 Quail Lodge auction total in 2004.
Anyone who doubts the effect of television coverage should spend a few hours at a Mecum auction. Spectators come in droves; they treat Dana, Frank and the block crew like rock stars. And they see cars they can afford to buy, or at least dream about affording.
Among all the Monterey auctions this year the median sale was $88,000; the average was $479,438. If we take out Mecum’s accessible cars (even with the inclusion of equally accessible cars from Russo and Steele) the Monterey median transaction was $159,500, almost three times Mecum’s $55,000 median.
There are a lot of ‘3’ condition cars at Mecum, which is not a criticism. ‘3’ condition cars are drivers that have had the good judged out of their restorations or seen more than a few miles in pursuit of driving/collecting happiness. They’re not perfect but they are [generally] accessibly priced.
Mecum has in the past few years brought a higher end group of cars to the Hyatt – as witnessed by the LaFerrari – this year selling eight lots on high bids of $1 million or more. Their $20,845,000 total was 40% of Mecum’s entire auction total. While that is impressive, eleven lots hammered at $1 million or more without selling, leaving $22,850,000 on the table at the end of the three-day sale. Five of those eleven had prior auction histories while none of the eight that sold over $1 million did.
This is to some extent an exercise in finding and promoting headline cars and it may be smart marketing – to get spectators through the gates and potentially into the bidders’ pool – to have a selection of wow gee whiz headline cars. Dana and Frank Mecum and Sam Murtaugh know how to market, although the strategy’s effectiveness from a sell-through point of view may be limited.
It is clear, however, that Mecum’s extravaganza on the fringes of the Del Monte Golf Course has become an essential part of the Monterey week.
Andrew Newton, Greg Ingold and Chris Winslow provided many of the on-site observations.
Mecum Monterey 2016 – Auction Report