In the 12-decade history of the automobile, 3 decades is but a quarter. Even in collector car auction history, it is not even half. Still, by any reasonable or relative benchmark, the three-decade history of Mecum Auctions’ Spring Classic is worth considering.
Starting in the wilds of Belvedere, Illinois (location caused it to be branded “Rockford” because no one knew where Belvedere was except the workers at the Chrysler assembly plant, and a few FLW fans who remembered the chapel in the Belvedere cemetery), the Spring Classic took on new significance when it moved to Indy.
Significant it still is, although challenged by Mecum’s Kissimmee and Monterey auctions.
The preliminary docket shows just over 1,400 cars. About 17 percent of them, a little less than is typical of recent auctions, are less than “antique,” that is, newer than 25 years. Muscle cars predominate but the variety is energizing.
Of course, the collector car market isn’t a static thing. It ebbs and flows with fads and cycles. Mecum’s Spring Classic is a steady hallmark where fads and trends blend in with established collectors’ and dealers’ concept of the market. How it turns out remains to be seen, but there is no shortage of quality consignments at the 30th annual Spring Classic, which opens today and runs through Sunday.
1956 Citroen 2CV Let's start with a Tuesday car from many consigned by Larry "I never met a car I didn't like" Klairmont, a 1956 Citroen 2CV. It has seen better days, but is cheerful and cute. $20 Large could take home and as a beach car full of kids it's hard to have more fun for the money.
1952 Jaguar Xk120 FHC and 1962 Daimler limousine Wednesday offers two contrasting examples of British design. W42 is one of William Lyon's best, a '52 Jaguar XK 120 Fixed Head coupe, as sleek and feline as a ... Jaguar. Right behind the Jaguar is the opposite, a heavy, lugubrious '62 Daimler Majestic with ostentatious Hooper coachwork. Which fits better in a collection (unless it's a collection of funeral coaches)?
1966 Sunbeam Tiger roadster Anglo-American on Thursday is lot Tl63, a Sunbeam Tiger with a load of LAT accessories in good if less than show car condition. It was sold at Kissimmee earlier this year for $60,500, a bit less than it brought at Barrett-Jackson in 2014 ($66,000). The Tiger trend was dramatically up for a while as when this car sold for $35,200 at Auburn Spring in 2013 but has tapered off. The estimate here is $60,000-75,000, and the consignor is bucking the trend.
1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Back again is one of Mecum's signature cars, Ferrari Daytona s/n 16109. It has become a talisman of Mecum's recent auctions, well into its second year of gracing Mecum dockets while in the forefront of declining Daytona values. It is a good Daytona but is tracking, always a little bit short, declining Daytona values, the poster car for unreasonable expectations, having started at Kissimmee in 2016 with a reported bid of $800,000 and working its way down to a $625,000 low estimate here, the reported high bid at Houston a month ago.
1962 Chevrolet Corvette 'Big Brake' Fuelie There are 131 Corvettes at Indy and one of the most eye-catching is F160, a stunning 1962 Fuelie 327/360hp with dog dish hubcaps, blackwall bias-ply tires and cerametallic brakes. Rarely, it has a WonderBar radio and heater. It is an arresting and serious look and a superior restoration.
1970 Plymouth Hemi Superbird Back from Kissimmee is Lot # F174, Plymouth Road Runner Superbird Hemi s/n RM23R0A166207. Largely original and resplendent in Tor Red with a black vinyl roof, it was reported sold at Kissimmee in January for $242,000. The optimistic estimate here is $300,0oo to $375,000.
1965 Ford Mustang And now to Saturday… Not quite leading off, but early in the day is lot number S125. It's a boring six-cylinder 3-speed notchback coupe. It's also VIN 2, the first Mustang to get a factory VIN. Estimated at $450,ooo to $650,000, it isn't what it is, but what it represents, even if the engine is only "date code correct.”
1969 Ford Torino Cobra Lot # S187 is a choice '69 Torino Cobra with the 428/335 hp Cobra Jet engine and a 4-speed. Represented as the numbers-matching engine and only 37,652 miles from new, it was sold here in 2010 for $41,340 and is in nearly like new condition.
1967 Toyota 2000 GT Last, but far from least is Lot #S202, 1967 Toyota 2000 s/n MF1010100, accurately restored by the 2000 GT experts in Biddeford, Maine, and one of only 62 U.S. spec left-hand drive 2000 GTs built, It sold for just over a million dollars at Mecum Monterey in 2015 and has through repeated auctions since then never come close.
Rick Carey began reporting on collector car auctions in 1991. Working with Parker Converse's LOTS in the early '90s he helped to develop a narrative form that identified equipment, specification and condition descriptions to flesh out reports and to bring new depth to auction reporting. He has been auctions editor for Sports Car Market, Victory Lane, Car Collector and sportscardigest.com. His reports are available on rickcarey.com.