There was a bumble of excitement in the air as hundreds of car and motorcycle enthusiasts took their seats and eagerly awaited the auction to begin. Many of the bidders come from far and wide to have the opportunity to get their hands on some of the most exotic and rare show cars and motorcycles ever made. This year, the Monterey Mecum auction was held at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa – Del Monte Golf Course on August 23rd, 24th, and 25th. I really enjoyed the view of the Pacific Ocean and rugged California coastline on the way there. Not only was this location easy to get to, parking was hassle-free! The hotel and golf course are right off the main freeway and there were lots of easy- to-spot street signs to guide you along the way. As if that wasn’t enough, there were plenty of staff on hand to help direct you to the auction. It made for a stress-free entrance and marked the start of an epic experience!
Mecum Auctions was founded by Dana Mecum and his family in the late eighties. Now headquartered in Walworth, Wisconsin, Mecum’s very first official auction was held at Rockport Airport in 1988, which proved to be a total disaster due to severe weather. Luckily, Mecum refused to give up and has come a long way since then. Mecum Auctions has grown to be the largest collector car auction company in the world, taking the top spot in the number of collector cars offered and sold at auction, the highest in total dollar volume sales, as well as number one in auction venues.
Mecum is currently running sixteen auctions per year sprinkled throughout the United States, in locations such as Seattle, Washington, Las Vegas, Nevada, Chicago, Illinois and Kissimmee, Florida, to name a few. Their refined process and industry expertise make it easy to see why collector cars and Mecum auctions go hand in hand.
They are also no stranger to motorcycles. They have been auctioning motorcycles for over 25 years. Mecum is host to the world’s largest vintage and antique motorcycle auction in Las Vegas, held annually in January since 1991. This long-running auction has more than doubled in size and overall sales totals since Mecum’s acquisition of MidAmerica Motorcycles in 2014.
According to the Mecum website, in January of 2018 alone, more than 1,324 motorcycles crossed the auction block in just four days, with 91 percent hammering sold for an impressive $13.9 million in overall sales. In fact, they are so successful in motorcycle auctions that they have established a second annual auction in Las Vegas that is held in June.
Perhaps one of the most exciting motorcycle sales that Mecum had a part in was in 2015 in Kissimmee, Florida, when rock n’ roll legend Jerry Lee Lewis offered his 1959 Harley-Davidson FLH Duo-Glide up for auction. Having only one owner and just under 2500 miles on it, this piece of history sold for $350,000 and was signed by the legend himself! “The Killer’s” onsite performance of “Great Balls of Fire” definitely made for an electrifying event that will not be soon be forgotten by its spectators, both live and on broadcast.
This 2018 Monterey auction featured approximately 700 automobiles and 70 motorcycles, ranging from a beautifully restored 1915 single-cylinder Cleveland to a bright yellow 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The weather could not have been better during all three auction days. We enjoyed sunny days of high 60s temperature with just a few clouds lingering high in the sky. Monterey offers a unique venue for the event, and takes full advantage of the picturesque scenery; on a backdrop of one of the most prestigious golf courses in Monterey. Right after going through the main entrance, I was floored by the sheer size of it all. There were rows upon rows of huge white tents set up on the lawn.
The automobiles were tastefully arranged under the tents and some across the lawn. I walked around and admired the diversity of the vehicles about to make their debut on the auction block. Among the most distinct machines was a green 1964 Lamborghini Tractor! It was the first time I had learned that Lamborghini actually made a tractor. One of my favorites was the 1989 Porsche 962, the Daytona 24 Hour Winner driven by Derek Bell. Most people know it as the Miller High Life race car.
As I walked around the auction floor in Monterey, I was grabbed by the vibe and excitement of the crowd. I had a great time mingling, I had a chance to ask some of the attendees about what draws them to this particular auction. “It’s all about the experience!” added one spectator. Another auction-goer stated that “I come here because I get a chance to check out exotic cars and bikes that I don’t see every day. It really is a site to see!” I spoke to one couple that said “we’ve been coming here for years. It’s the best entertainment money can buy!”
One of the main attractions, a 1933 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe Disappearing Top Roadster took the number one place in Mecum’s top ten for the car division, selling for $3,850,000. This breathtaking masterpiece has ties to Hollywood’s elite and is one of a kind, the only long-wheelbase Model J Convertible Coupe Disappearing Top Roadster with Bohman & Schwartz coachwork. This breathtaking masterpiece has ties to Hollywood’s elite and is singularly rare, the only long-wheelbase Model J Convertible Coupe Disappearing Top Roadster with Bohman & Schwartz coachwork.
Commanding the number two spot in Mecum’s top ten was none other than the attention-grabbing red 2014 Ferrari Laferrari. This Hybrid Drive 6.3L 949 HP had a winning bid of $3,190,000. This finely crafted automobile lives up to its name in both looks and performance. A pleasing sight to all.
Securing the number three spot is a red 2003 Ferrari Enzo, selling for $2,860,000. This modern marvel of engineering is one of only 399 ever made. According to Mecum’s website, the Ferrari Enzo will forever be considered a street-legal road car with the soul of a Formula 1 race car.
The equally spectacular motorcycle auctions had everyone buzzing with excitement and anticipation. A 1917 Henderson Board tracker took the top spot in Monterey’s top ten motorcycle auction sales, with a winning bid of $159,000. This 4-cylinder beauty is definitely among one of the rarest track racers to come across the auction block. The buyer is sure to enjoy it for years to come.
Coming in at number two was lot#S198 featuring a 1917 Indian Daytona Board Tracker with a unique and distinctive Daytona racing frame. This red and grey 61CC masterpiece sold for $110,000. Not only is this mechanical marvel a very rare and original factory racer, it’s also one of the most historic and aesthetically appealing American racing machines of all time.
Stealing the number three spot was a bold looking 1952 Vincent Black Shadow Series C. In its heyday, it was known as “The World’s Fastest Motorcycle,” boasting a top speed of 120MPH. The fully restored 1000cc 4-speed two-wheeled blast-from-the-past sold for a cool $101,750 and even included an original rider’s handbook! How neat is that?!
Spots four, five, and six were taken by a 1915 Harley-Davidson 11K Board Tracker, a 1913 Harley-Davidson 9E, and a 1918 Harley-Davidson Board Track Racer. They sold for $99,000, $82,500, and $66,000 respectively.
Some of the crowd favorites included the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Convertible and its twin, the 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop. Both had the same pale yellow and black sleek paint which augmented their elegance. They spent five years at the northeast classic car museum and had an onslaught of admirers. Winning bids were $143,000 and $121,000 respectively.
The fan favorites for motorcycles included a banana yellow 1952 Indian Chief. This two wheeled awe-inspiring masterpiece is fully equipped with color coordinated accessories, restored to a very high standard, and is reflected in its overall appearance. It sold at auction for $24,750. This beauty is sure to turn heads wherever it roams! This two wheeled awe-inspiring masterpiece has a full complement of accessories, all color coordinated and fully restored to an excellent standard, and it shows very well. It sold at auction for $24,750. It’s a beautiful and historic machine that draws admiring looks wherever it goes.
The Mecum auction in Monterey was also host to Mendocino County motorcycle collector, Peter Richardson, who offered up two of his prized motorcycles to benefit the ongoing fire relief in his home county. We’ve all heard about how the wildfires are ravaging California’s north country this year. It’s been known that he is currently sharing his home with nineteen of his dear neighbors who lost everything. Not only did he open his home for the victims, when the opportunity knocked, he answered by putting up his limited edition 1977 Harley-Davidson XLCR and his Italian masterpiece, a 1954 Moto-Guzzi Falcone Sport. The Harley sold for $16,500 and the Falcon closed at $36,300, raising a whopping $52,800 for the fire victims. What an honorable gesture! That is definitely an example of going above and beyond the call of duty to help a community in dire need. What a heart-warming story!
Monterey auction offers an array of different varieties of cars and motorcycles, not just Lambo’s, and not just Ferrari’s. It gives folks a chance to experience a wide array of genres when it comes to collectible engine powered vehicles. “When you get 700 cars of all makes and models and over 70 motorcycles together at one place, it creates a spectacle, and that’s what’s most exciting for me,” says Sam Murtaugh, VP of Marketing for Mecum Auctions. When it comes to motorcycles specifically, it is becoming a bigger part of the auctions and the rarity and the collectability of the bikes certainly help propel that industry segment forward. Mecum has played and continues to play an integral role in helping these collectible motorcycles achieve the respect and attention they were built for. Dana Mecum says on their website, “That market has really become part of our DNA, but we’re continually expanding to bring all makes and models to auction. Our auction business is bigger and better than ever—people love to walk around the cars and watch the auctioneers. We’ve been very fortunate to be a part of this amazing industry.” Seeing these finely engineered machines up close and personal allowed me to appreciate the breadth and uniqueness that each contributed to the event as a whole. It was truly an amazing experience!