To experience this collector car auction, the world’s largest, you would really need to stick around in central Florida’s sunshine for about 10 days, eat three or four meals daily, shoot about a thousand photos, and try to comprehend its sheer size and scope.
The 2017 version of the Mecum Kissimmee auction brought three fabulous collections into the spotlight: the Williams collection, the Jackee and Gary Runyon collection, and the Don Fezell collection, each containing some of the most historic and sought-after muscle cars and drag race cars of the 1960s.
The Williams collection, some 72 cars, each offered at no reserve, range from a 1907 Cadillac Model K Runabout to a ’95 Chevy Monte Carlo raced by Ricky Craven in NASCAR, and was as full of muscle as the early version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Runyons have collected some very significant drag race cars from the 1960s, including one or two that were the very first of their kind when aluminum and fiberglass noses and seven-liter engines were de rigeur. More than 40 of their cars are on display and available for bidding.
Pennsylvania drag racer and collector Don Fezell offers even more drag racing gems, more than 40 cars, some of them expected to bring three quarters of a million dollars or more for Detroit iron that only cost about $3,500 new.
For someone who was raised on drag racing, this auction is pure heaven.
1961 Chevrolet Biscayne 409 This car was built piece by piece by Pennsylvanian Terry Brennan as a tribute to his friend Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins more than 40 years after the original car disappeared. The first in a series of Old Reliable race cars that paired builder/tuner Jenkins with ace driver Dave Strickler, the lightweight post sedan was built with every trick in the book.
1968 Ford Mustang 428 Cobra Jet Lightweight The Cobra Jet Mustang was designed to compete in NHRA Super Stock E. Fifty were built to meet the required minimum — no radio, no heater, rubber mats, no sound insulation, no back seat, etc. The Cobra Jet won first time out at the 1968 NHRA Winternationals. This is the only one we’ve ever seen that looks like it was just shipped from the factory, before racing mods and paint.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Clearly one of the best Corvettes extant, this unrestored split-window Z06 has the whole Z06 package of suspension, brakes and drivetrain, a matching-numbers 360-horsepower 327, and a basketful of documentation, awards, and magazine covers. The Mecum estimate on this fabulous ride was $500,000. Wouldn’t we like to take this one through the drive-in one Saturday night!
1941 Buick Sedanette Perfectly accessorized for a wily detective like Dick Tracy or The Shadow, this Buick fastback coupe has the fender skirts, windshield visor and twin spotlights mated with wide whites, dog-dish hubcaps and trim rings. We stuck our head in through the driver’s window and took a deep draught of the original aged mohair upholstery, and it was wonderful.
1931 Chrysler Sedan With a 145-inch wheelbase, this gigantic Chrysler sedan was turned into a hot rod, with a Dodge Viper V10 engine, a three-inch top chop, and a completely custom chassis and drivetrain featuring Colorado Custom alloy wheels, 17s front and 20s rear, with fat rubber. One of the coolest hot rods of the hundreds at the Kissimmeet.
1988 Porsche 962 No carping, please. The Miller High Life 962, the world’s fastest 962, is still for sale. Its history includes the pole and second overall at the 1988 24 Hours of Daytona, victory at the 1989 Daytona with Derek Bell driving in his last 24-hour race, and the 50th overall triumph for the 962 design.
Delahaye Tribute Coupe Never seen one of these before? Probably not, because this one, a combination of design cues from Bugatti, Delahaye, and other Art Deco era grand automobiles, was built by Terry Cook at Deco Rides in New Jersey over the course of four years on top of a modern chassis and a complete BMW V12 drivetrain. Absolutely gorgeous.
1966 Ford Mustang GT There, sitting all by itself outside The Glass House at Kisssimmee, was this lovely Emberglo-colored GT with all the right parts and pieces, the matching-numbers 271-horspower high-performance engine, 4-speed manual, RallyPak gauges, and the rare Parchment Pony bi-color interior. A truly striking car than any enthusiast would love to own.
Jim McCraw has been writing about cars, motorcycles, design, technology, car people and racing for 50 years, in such publications as Hot Rod Deluxe, Super Chevy, Muscle Mustangs, Road & Track, Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Penthouse, Winding Road, The Mercedes-Benz Star, AutoWeek, The New York Times, and a number of European publications. He was executive editor of Motor Trend, editor of Hot Rod and Super Stock. He co-holds the record for the drive from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Key West, Florida, 96:22, and has run in major events such as the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy, Goodwood, the California Mille, the Colorado Grand, the New England 1000, Forza Mille, and four One Lap Of America competitions He owns a pristine Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan.