Not only is Mecum Auction’s annual Kissimmee sale the largest such enterprise on the planet, each year nudging ever closer to Dana Mecum’s goal of parading 3,000 collector cars across the auction block, the Mecum team this year is taking Kissimmee into rare if not unprecedented territory.
For one thing, it is offering two pairs of cars as single lots — bid once, take home two cars. For another, it has announced the reserve price for one of those pairs.
Should you want to bid on Lot T150, a pair of rare 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 coupes, of which only 69 were produced and these are Nos. 18 and 30, your bidding will be in vain unless it is at least $1.1 million.
Mecum expects the pair to bring $1.25 million to $1.75 million on the block. Usually, the lower number of an auction house’s pre-sale estimated value is pretty close to the consignor’s reserve price, the minimum amount the seller demands to pass the vehicle on to another owner. Traditionally, reserve prices are a closely guarded secret known only to the auction house and to the seller.
Yes, if the bidding doesn’t reach the reserve, the consignor has the option of removing the reserve and simply accepting the highest bid offered. But to announce the reserve figure in advance, for all to see, seems unprecedented.
John Kraman, long-time consignment manager for Mecum and television auction analyst for NBCSN, says he’s never seen it done — until now. Neither, it seems likely, has anyone else.
Saying he believes such an announcement is unprecedented in the world of collector car auctions, Kraman adds that such publication lets potential bidders “realistically know right up front where the numbers are.”
According to Mecum, the ZL1 Camaros “are the rarest and most sought-after examples of Chevrolet’s legendary first-generation pony car.”
The cars were part of the 50-unit order of ZL1s by Illinois Chevrolet dealer Fred Gibb. Mecum notes that both cars retain their original, an all-aluminum 427cid V8 engines. Both cars have been restored in their factory colors and come with all sorts of documentation.
The ZL1 was a product of General Motors’ Central Office Production Order program, aka COPO, which was designed to provide specially equipped vehicles for police departments, taxi companies and the like. But Chevy product manager Vince Piggins also used it to create some of the most powerful muscle cars.
Ask for COPO package 9560 and your Camaro arrived with that big-block, Can-Am series-inspired 430-horsepower engine as well as heavy-duty suspension, brakes and driveline.
If you were “Grumpy” Jenkins, you drove a ZL1 to national drag racing championships.
Both of the ZL1s in Lot T150 have interesting owner histories. No. 18, the Dusk Blue car, was raced, sold to a woman who sold it back to previous owner five years later, at one point was awarded as a U.S. Camaro Club raffle prize, and has been part of at least a couple of leading car collections.
The No. 30 car, in Hugger Orange, has been driven only 361 miles, raced under Pizza Hut sponsorship, and went into long-term storage with only 8.4 miles on its odometer (hey, it only ran a quarter-mile at a time in drag racing). It was restored in the early 1990s and again in 2004.
The other tandem offered as a single unit is Lot F140, a pair of 1970 Chrysler E-body “pilot” cars — a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T and a 1970 Plymouth ‘Cuda, both convertibles. Mecum has announced a pre-sale estimate of $900,000 to $1.25 million for the pair. Both cars were produced August 1, 1969, in Hamtramck, Michigan, and are believed to be the first convertibles equipped with 440 Six Pack V8 engines. The ‘Cuda is VIN No. 4 and the Challenger is No. 21.
As “pilot” cars, they were used for internal programs and for early press driving impressions.
“Pilot cars are unique, often having certain features and components production vehicles did not,” Mecum notes in its online catalog. “For instance, the Dutchman panel between the rear window and decklid is not the standard part and is slightly smaller than the production piece. Code-V68, to delete the side stripes, was also not used once production began, and two other codes on the tag were stamped erroneously.
“Still, this particular car is quite singular in its appearance, and it is quite possible it was specifically created to test appearance and option combinations on the new model.”
Mecum notes that only two such ‘Cudas were done in white with the 440 Six Pack and 4-speed manual transmissions.
“Like Lennon and McCartney, Batman and Robin, or even Yin and Yang, these two complementary and celebrated vehicles belong together,” the catalog waxes poetic, “and whoever succeeds at placing the winning bid this January in Kissimmee, Florida, will have the honor of keeping them together.”
To offer multiple vehicles as a single lot “is very unusual,” Kraman said. “We see it maybe once a year or even every two or three years. Some consignors, if they think of the cars as bookends, they want them kept as a pair.”
That two such pairs are being offered is just one example of how the Kissimmee sale “is borderline out of control,” Kraman suggested. “The entries, the quality, we’re raised the bar again for 2018,” he said, noting that Mecum likely will exceed 3,000 vehicles for the first time, and perhaps also achieve $100 million in sales as a result.
“At last count we had more than 20 collections (on the docket),” he said, adding that nearly 400 cars will cross the block each day of the sale, which runs from January 5-14 at the Osceola Heritage Park.
In addition to the cars up for bidding, the “thrill rides” in the latest Dodge muscle cars, and the vendors, Kraman said Mecum is adding a live stage to the auction venue and will offer various speakers, cooking contests and live music by a variety of performers.