The Mecum Auctions collector car event in Kissimmee, Florida, has no peer. It is the largest auction of its type in the world, with more that 3,000 lots available over a 10-day bidding period, 300 lots per day.
As always, the Mecum auction in central Florida offers individual cars, motorcycles, boats, automobilia, memorabilia, and this year guitars. Among the cars this year are those from several very important collections.
There are 27 major pieces of racing history and high performance on offer from the Don Wallace Collection. Nearly a dozen from the Michael Fux Collection. Twenty muscle cars from the Williams Fleming Collection. Twenty more from the Thompson’s Muscle Car Collection. A nice mix of 15 classics from the Meaney Collection. A mix of a dozen Ford, MoPar and Ford-powered cars from the Colin Comer Collection. Another dozen or so from the famous Wellborn Collection in Alabama. Lots to see, hear and wonder about, topped by a huge number of vehicles from the Frank Karabetsos Collection, all convertibles and some, like a pair of fuel-injected 1957 Pontiac Bonneville ragtops, very rare.
And, unlike any previous version of the Mecum Kissimmee auction, this one has a superstar, a car so rare, so important, so much a part of American car culture, that it is expected to bring the highest price ever for an American muscle car (last year at Mecum, the one-of-a-kind 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake sold for $2.2 million). This year the star car is the real, honest-to-Pete Bullitt Mustang, one of the two cars that Steve McQueen actually drove in perhaps the most famous movie car chase of all time.
But that will be on the block, at no reserve, next week, and we will be back for that sale. It is currently on display in the Glass House, where it is encased in glass, dirty, beat up and wonderful.
For now, we offer you our picks from auction, cars that we would buy in a hot minute if we won the lottery.
Bill Jenkins’ 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Pro Stock
From the Don Wallace collection, Bill Jenkins’ 1970 Camaro Pro Stocker is our top pick because we knew Bill and watched him race for decades. This car was built to compete in the first year of NHRA Pro Stock drag racing in 1970 and features a 427 cubic-inch V8 with two huge four-barrel carburetors. Jenkins touched every nut and bolt on this beautiful car.
Sox & Martin Plymouth Barracuda Pro Stock
Another from the Wallace collection, the Sox & Martin 1970 Plymouth Barracuda Pro Stocker was also built for the first year of NHRA Pro Stock, and we watched it race everywhere. We would just put it in the garage, charge people to sit in it, and charge more to fire it up.
1982 March GTP
An absolutely beautiful restoration was done on this 1982 March GTP car driven by Bobby Rahal, Jim Trueman and Bruce Canepa, pole winner at both Daytona and Sebring in IMSA GTP, 234 mph at Le Mans.
1955 Chrysler ST Special
Only a few steps away from the drag cars and the Bullitt Mustang, we found this 1955 Chrysler ST Special hardtop by Italian coachbuilder Ghia of Turin, the last collaboration between Ghia and Chrysler’s design boss Virgil Exner. Expected to bring $450,000 on Friday.
Big T by Monogram
The Big T by Monogram pulled at our hot-rodder’s heartstrings. This is the full-size version of the 1/25 scale model kit that Monogram offered decades ago, executed by customizing wizard Darryl Starbird. Could be ours for around $30,000.
Raced by movie legend Paul Newman and his frequent co-driver and co-star Michael Brockman, this Porsche GT3R helped win all four ALMS championships for Porsche in 2000.
L-88 Chevrolet Corvette
It looks fairly ordinary, but this, in fact, is the first L-88 Corvette convertible built, and the only one painted black, back in 1967. It was raced very successfully by our pal Tony DeLorenzo and has every honor the Corvette hobby can bestow. Could bring as much as two million bucks on Saturday.
23-window Volkswagen van
We don’t know why everyone is slamming VW vans with small wheels and tires, and we don’t really care. This is a very rare 23-window version with right-hand drive, and we hungered for it, but that tan interior has to go.
Fratelli Ferrari 150cc motorcycle
Ever see a Ferrari with only one cylinder? Well, you have now. Stashed with a bunch of other vintage bikes was this Fratelli Ferrari 150cc two-stroke single built in 1954 before Enso made them change the company name.
A side feature at Kissimmee this year is the guitar auction, only Mecum’s second try after a successful sale of 41 out of 50 guitars in Las Vegas three months back.
Ford Escorts were rallied all over Europe, and this RS2000 was built at Ford AVO at Aveley in 1974 with a 2-liter engine and 4-speed. Estimated at $75,000 on Thursday because it is a real factory race car.
Shelby Series 1 roadster
Although there were Shelby Mustangs all over the place, there were only two of these, the Shelby Series 1 roadster, a beautiful car in its own right, the first and last car designed by Shelby from the ground up, and the only one with GM power, estimated at $140,000.
1969 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3
The first hod-rod sedan ever built by Mercedes-Benz, this all-black ’69 300 SEL 6.3 was one of the quickest and fastest sedans in the world in its heyday.
1953 Bentley R-Type
For a 1953 Bentley R-Type six that looks like this, we would give precious body parts. Leather, burl wood, RHD, chrome and class, for an estimated $60,000.
Brumos Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racer
There are only five of these in the world, roadgoing versions of the championship-winning Brumos Porsche 911 GT3 Cup from 2012. Tested and approved by Hurley Haywood.
1953 Wright Special
One of one is this Wright Special from 1953 featuring a Maserati chassis, handformed aluminum body, and a 331 cubic-inch Chevy with six carburetors. This was the poster car for the 1954 Torrey Pines sports car race, expected to bring $225,000 on Saturday.
1967 Land Rover Series IIA
The desert is calling, and we are ready to go in this fabulous 1967 Landy Series IIA after a nut-and-bolt rotisseries restoration which went way over the top. Absolutely gorgeous, and ready to get dirty.