HomeThe MarketLas Vegas emerges as a major auction venue

Las Vegas emerges as a major auction venue


The year 2017 was horrific and historic for Las Vegas, Nevada. Historic in the launch of a professional ice hockey team and the awarding of a professional football franchise, horrific for the mass murders and injuries suffered during a country-western music celebration.

But 2017 also was the year that Las Vegas emerged as an important venue for collector vehicle auctions.

las vegas, Las Vegas emerges as a major auction venue, ClassicCars.com Journal
Motorcycles at Mecum, and with more at a Bonhams’ sale

Oh, it’s not that there hadn’t been such auctions held there in the past. For a decade, Barrett-Jackson has staged an annual auction in Las Vegas. For even longer, MidAmerica Motorcycles, now part of Mecum Auctions, has held an annual sale of vintage motorcycles in Vegas, with Bonhams staging its own sale at the same time in another Vegas venue.

The Mecum motorcycle sales were so successful that the company added a second such sale in 2017. And despite Russo and Steele’s inability to sustain its collector car effort in Las Vegas, Mecum in 2017 launched its own collector car auction in 2017. The Barrett-Jackson and Mecum events are held on either side of yet another major collector car event in Vegas — the annual SEMA Show, an industry trade show of custom and collector cars and the parts needed to build and maintain them.

las vegas, Las Vegas emerges as a major auction venue, ClassicCars.com Journal
The scene at Mecum’s inaugural Las Vegas collector car auction

In fact, Mecum’s collector car auction was held in the same venue as SEMA, or at least in one of the three buildings that comprise the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Barrett-Jackson’s 10th Las Vegas auction delivered nearly 700 vehicles to new owners and generated nearly $31 million in sales, including more than $1 million to funds for first responders and for emergency room education programs. Mecum’s first Las Vegas car auction sold more than 550 vehicles for $22 million.

Actually, this wasn’t Mecum’s first Las Vegas car sale. In 2015, the company handled an auction to disburse the Jim Rogers Classic Car Museum, an event that attracted 3,000 people for a standing-room-only sale.

With collector cars not only holding their value but, over time, increasing in what they’re worth, the auctions of cars and motorcycles are no gamble, but a seeming sure thing for a city built on the turn of a card and the spin of a wheel.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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