Mecum’s live Indy auction scores record sales of $74 million

First onsite sale since the pandemic shutdown was highlighted by the $3.85 million result for 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype

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The top-selling 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype on the auction block | Mecum Auctions photos

Touting “a triumphant return to live auctions,” Mecum Auctions reported results for its Indianapolis event of $74 million in sales of collector cars and Road Art memorabilia, a historic best result for the company’s flagship sale.

The overall sell-through rate was more than 90 percent, Mecum said, with 78 percent of about 1,800 vehicles hammered sold. 

The high point of the auction was the resounding sale of the 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype – the famous Flying Mustang driven in competition by Ken Miles – which rang the bell with a $3.85 million sale, the highest known price ever paid for any Mustang.  The sale eclipsed that of the Steve McQueen Bullitt Mustang sold by Mecum six months ago. 

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1966 GT350 convertible was another Shelby that reached into 7 figures

“The car exists as the first Shelby R-Model competition car built and the first Shelby Mustang to win a race, easily qualifying it as the most historically significant Shelby Mustang in the world,” according to Mecum’s Indy results news release.

Another Shelby Mustang that hit 7 figures was the 1966 Shelby GT350 convertible, a highly original car that was one of only four GT350 convertibles built for 1966 and the first one by serial number.  It sold for $1.1 million.

Among the top 10 collector cars sold at the auction, five were Shelbys. 

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1964 Shelby 289 Independent Competition Cobra hit $990,000

The most-highly valued car at the sale, a 1965 Ford GT Competition Prototype Roadster, GT/109, which was the only open GT40 to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was a no-sale when the high bid of $7.5 million did not meet reserve.  Owned by Dana Mecum, the head of the auction company, it was the second time the race car failed to sell at a Mecum auction.

The 33rd annual Indianapolis auction was the first live event for Mecum since the pandemic shutdown.  Usually held in May, the auction was postponed until July 10-18.  The results are higher than the May 2019 sale at the Indianapolis Fairgrounds, which scored a then-record $70.4 million in total sales.

The auction was held under strict pandemic protocols, according to Mecum, with protective masks, hand sanitizers and social distancing. Online sales were strong, Mecum said, with 346 vehicles sold to online-only bidders with a total of $10.3 million.

A 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS was the second-place top seller

“We put forth tremendous effort to follow, meet and exceed all of the safety protocols necessary to provide a safe environment to conduct a successful, full-scale live auction. Not only did we succeed, we raised the bar,” said Frank Mecum, director of consignments.  “By enhancing both our on-site and live-online bidding processes, we were able to open so many new doors and allow everyone to participate in whichever way made the most sense for our customers.

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“The results speak for themselves: the auction in Indy was the annual event’s best outcome ever, and I think I can speak for everyone here at Mecum in saying that we are thrilled to be back with live auctions for our customers and fans alike.”

The top-10 highest sellers for the Indy 2020 auction were:

  1. 1965 Shelby GT350R Prototype at $3.85 million
  2. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS at $1.43 million
  3. 1966 Shelby GT350 convertible at $1.1 million
  4. 1964 Shelby 289 Independent Competition Cobra at $990,000
  5. 2018 Ford GT at $946,000
  6. 1965 Shelby GT350 Paxton Prototype at $880,000
  7. 1966 Shelby GT350 Paxton fastback at $852,500
  8. 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III drophead coupe at $726,000
  9. 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona at $715,000
  10. 2011 Ferrari 599 GTO at $698,500


The top-10 highest-selling Road Art items were:

  1. Cobra Powered by Ford Autographed Banner at $53,100
  2. Ford A-1 Pylon Used Cars and Trucks Dealership Porcelain Neon Sign at $40,120
  3. 1967 Le Mans Starting Flag Embroidered Silk at $36,580
  4. Ford A-1 Used Cars Double-Sided Porcelain Neon Sign at $30,680
  5. 1965 Shelby American 427 Cobra Sunburst Wheels/Blue Dot Tires at $29,500
  6. “Daytona Coupe” Original Bronze Sculpture by J. Paul Nesse at $29,500
  7. “Miles Ahead” Original Bronze Sculpture by J. Paul Nesse at $25,960
  8. Ford Jubilee Dealership Single-Sided Porcelain Neon Sign at $25,960
  9.     Cobra Powered by Ford Autographed Banner at $53,100
  10. Ford A-1 Pylon Used Cars and Trucks Dealership Porcelain Neon Sign at $40,120
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(All results include auction fees)

Mecum’s next live auction will be the recently announced Kissimmee Summer Special slated for August 27-29 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, with 1,000 collector vehicles expected.

For more information, visit Mecum’s website.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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