Seven is a traditionally lucky number in Las Vegas, and Mecum Auctions and the Las Vegas Convention Center are betting the luck continues this weekend as the convention center opens to a live event for the first time in 7 months and when Mecum Auctions stages its 7th such live sale since it resumed such events despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The auction, which is using the convention center’s Central and North Halls, begins at 10 a.m. local time Friday and Saturday (November 13-14), with around 600 vehicles expected to cross the sale’s red-carpeted block.
Those vehicles are on display in the convention center’s Central Hall while the bidding will take place in four separated areas in the North Hall, plus a fifth, an overflow bidding center set up in the theater of the nearby Westgate Las Vegas hotel and resort.
The extra bidding area was needed because more than 1,000 bidders and consignors registered for the auction. Under the latest round of state and local Covid-19 regulations, the convention center can be open to 1,000 people, but they must be separated in four distinct areas, and thus the unusual arrangement for the Mecum sale.
But it is only the latest such unusual arrangement for the company, according to chief executive Dave Magers.
“This is our seventh auction since being back the first of June and every one has been different in some way,” Magers said. “Each location has had different state rules, different local rules, different venue rules, even different food service rules.”
Magers said the Mecum team spent the pandemic-imposed April and May shutdown making extensive plans and modifications for its return to live auctions.
One such change was a more robust online bidding platform.
“It used to be we’d have 10 to 15 internet bidders,” Magers said. “Now we (typically) have 500, and 90 percent of them are new customers.”
Another innovation was the overflow bidding room setup. Yet another is contactless check-in and check-out, through which someone can consign a vehicle to a Mecum auction and have it picked up at their home, transported to the auction, checked-in and ready to cross the block, Magers said.
Similarly, a winning bidder can avoid having to sit down at the auction office to fill out various forms and instead opt to sign papers at their home, where their purchase will be delivered by Mecum’s transport service.
Magers said such innovations will continue beyond the pandemic and “will make us a better company and even more user friendly.”
Another project for the April/May shutdown was to create a safety protocol document, which ran eight pages. That document has been modified since, Magers said, and now runs 12 pages and has been incorporated into the safety procedures of at least one major convention center where, like Las Vegas, it hosted the opening act after months of Covid closure.
“We are a safe-opening test event,” Magers said. “We’re battled tested.”
And this weekend Mecum is in Nevada, a state that proudly proclaims its “Battle Born” heritage.
I strolled among the cars in the Central Hall on Thursday and found several cars on the Mecum Las Vegas docket to highlight, just as we used to do back in the pre-Covid days of the Journal’s auction coverage:
1969 Plymouth Road Runner
While this looks like a ’69 Road Runner, underneath the vintage bodywork is the chassis of a 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack and its 392cid/485-horsepower Hemi V8 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. Also carried over from the new model is the interior. The car has air-conditioning, a back-up camera, auto-dimming headlamps, navigation system, Track Pack technology package, Brembo brakes, and 20-inch chrome Voxx wheels.
It also has us wondering if we need a new description. We know a resto-mod is a vintage vehicle that has been updated with modern equipment. But in this case, it’s more like a new car has been retrofitted with vintage coachwork. Retro-mod, perhaps?
1953 Buick custom coupe
This car rolled out of a Buick assembly plant as a standard coupe, but it has been customized into a stunning showpiece with two-tone Peach and Cream paint, louvered hood, lake pipes and other changes. It also has a 455cid V8 engine souped up with aftermarket parts and linked to a Turbo 350 3-speed automatic transmission and 9-inch rear.
Suspension is by adjustable coilovers and braking involves discs at each wheel. The air-conditioned interior also has been upgraded and updated.
1955 Chrysler New Yorker
Offered from the Lakada Collection, this Nugget Gold-and-white New Yorker has a 331cid/250-horsepower FirePower Hemi V8 engine linked to a PowerFlite automatic transmission, the gearbox controlled by a one-year-only dash-mounted shifter. The car has power steering, dual exhaust and rides on wide-whitewall tires. The styling was by Virgil Exner and debuted his “Forward Look” design for the Chrysler Corporation.
1969 Datsun 2000 roadster
Another offering from the Lakada Collection, this vintage drop-top Datsun has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and 5-speed manual gearbox and likely would be a great way to enjoy a wonderful, winding 2-lane road.
1992 Nissan Figaro cabriolet
The Nissan Figaro was a Japanese Domestic Market marvel in the early 1990s and has become popular with American collectors, though we’ve never seen one which has undergone such customization. This one has a fiberglass body kit with flare wheel arches and custom paint inspired by a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.
The engine was tweaked by Suglyama Automotive and the car rides on air suspension. The only part of the factory-installed interior that was retained was the gauge cluster. The dash was redone in leather and carbon fiber, and the seats are Recaro buckets.
1953 Studebaker Starliner coupe
“Stylish Stude” is the name of this customized 1953 Studebaker, which has a supercharged to 700-plus horsepower Chevrolet Corvette V8 engine. The car rides on a JV Enterprises frame and has Kugel front and rear suspension and Wilwood brakes. The exterior is Root Bear and Rose Gold and the interior is done in black and copper. The top was chopped 5 inches with rear fenders widened 2 inches. Front wheels are 18s with 20s at the rear.
1951 GMC pickup
This pickup truck has been restored and re-powered with a 350cid Chevy small-block V8, power steering, power brakes and air conditioning. Looks ideal for show and go.
1953 Willys Jeep
They didn’t call them sport utility vehicles back in the early post-war period. Back then, it was a “station wagon.” Presented at the auction in red with white accents and two-tone red-and-white interior, the wagon has a 4-cylinder (presumably a period-correct) 134.2cid unit rated at 72 horsepower, though now linked to an automatic transmission instead of the 3-speed manual that would have been present back in the day.
1939 Cadillac Fleetwood Special
This handsome machine has undergone a resto-mod upfit while retaining its coachwork by Fleetwood. It also has a 500cid V8 engine with some modern aftermarket upgrades, automatic transmission and 9-inch Ford rear. Other upgrades include power front disc brakes, power steering, power windows, power seats, custom leather upholstery and Vintage Air. It also has custom-designed and fabricated running boards.
1966 Volkswagen Beetle convertible
The drop-top Bug underwent restoration in 2017, when it also got a new 1300cc engine, new 4-speed manual transmission, new electrical and braking systems, Oyster White interior and top.