HomeThe MarketMecum’s motorcycle auction posts 95 percent sell-through

Mecum’s motorcycle auction posts 95 percent sell-through

Dane Mecum notes that newcomers to the hobby want to buy it right now


Got an old Harley-Davidson in your garage? You might want to check it out because it’s value may have increased as a result of Mecum Auction’s 30th annual Las Vegas Vintage & Antique motorcycle auction held this past week at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

Ranging in production year from 1907 to 1947, vintage Harleys dominated the top-10 sales report from the auction, claiming 8 of the top places and each selling for between $137,500 and $297,000.

Overall, the auction posted $17.5 million in sales with a stunning a 95 percent sell-through rate with 1,151 of the 1,214 machines crossing the block going to new owners. 

Waiting their trips across the block, these motorcycles were among the more than 1,200 consigned to the annual Las Vegas auction

Speaking of new owners, auction company founder Dana Mecum pointed to the way his business continued to operate under pandemic guidelines in 2020 and into 2021 and to “an evolution taking place in the whole (collector vehicle) industry.”

“A large part of Mecum’s mission as a company is to extend the collector car auction experience to as many interested participants as possible, and the best way to achieve that goal is by taking the auction action right into the backyards of enthusiasts in all corners of the country,” the company said in a recent news release announced a new auction venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

It added that television coverage of auctions engages a wider audience and attracts it to attend auctions in person.

Dana Mecum | Mecum Auctions photo

Dane Mecum expanded on what’s been taking place:

“Our business (by staying open with strict health guidelines during the pandemic) has brought a lot of new people into the marketplace,” Mecum said, noting that many people were looking for something to do, eager to take part in live activities during the shutdown.

“Now our job is, how many of those people can we retain.”

Mecum also said the younger buyers being attracted to vehicle collecting tend to be less patient than traditional collectors.

“It used to be you’d hunt for two or three years for the car you wanted to buy,” he said. 

But now, as buyers are getting younger, with the pent-up demand of so few live/in-person auction opportunities in the last year, and with the internet supplying instant gratification for buying almost anything you want, people are ready to buy immediately.

Buying immediately may have contributed to the 95 percent sell-through rate for the motorcycle auction. Another factor, of course, was the quality of the machines crossing the block over the course of the 4-day sale.

The sale featured consignments for several respected collections, including around 50 motorcycles from the J.C. Burgin Collection, which included a rare and complete set of all 12 years of the Harley-Davidson “Knucklehead” motorcycles. Six of those bikes were among top-10 sellers at the auction.

In total, the Burgin Collection brought $2.2 million on the block.

High-dollar sale of the auction was this 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank motorcycle | Mecum Auctions photo

The most expensive purchase of the sale was a 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank machine from the Ronald Moreschini collection. 

Moreschini’s son told Mecum that their acquisition of the vintage motorcycle wasn’t anything but instant gratification:

“My father and I were hunting for a Strap Tank for our collection for many years, from 1983-1994,” Mecum was informed and reported in its online auction catalog. “We even placed full page ads in motorcycle publications. In 1994, we went to David City for the Leo Bonger estate auction with $30,000 in our pockets.” 

However, the catalog notes, $30K wasn’t nearly enough to buy the bike at that sale, where $140,000 was the winning bid.

The Moreschinis, who in the meantime produced 14 Strap Tank replica motors, eventually built their own motorcycle from original parts. The bike was displayed at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame museum, was featured in a book celebrating the Harley-Davidson centennial and topped the Las Vegas sales list at $297,000 (price includes buyer’s fee).

Top-10 sales, Mecum Las Vegas motorcycles 2021

  1. 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank, $297,000
  2. 1943 Harley-Davidson E, $220,000
  3. 1946 Harley-Davidson FL, $220,000
  4. 1947 Harley-Davidson FL, $192,500
  5. 1953 Vincent Black Shadow, $165,000
  6. 1936 Harley-Davidson EL, $159,500
  7. 1938 Harley-Davidson EL, $154,000
  8. 1903 Indian, $143,000
  9. 1944 Harley-Davidson FL, $143,000
  10. 1942 Harley-Davidson EL, $137,500

(Prices include buyer’s fee.)

Some of the motorcycles at the auction were displayed in eye-catching quartets rather than in long side-by-side rows

From Las Vegas, the Mecum team heads to Indianapolis for its 34th annual and massive Original Spring Classic auction, scheduled for May 14-22 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds complex, where Parnelli Jones’ “Big Oly” Baja Bronco will be the star attraction.

Soon thereafter comes the company’s inaugural sale in Tulsa, Oklahoma

But wait, there’s more, while in Las Vegas for the motorcycle auction, Mecum announced another new event, a collector car auction scheduled for July 29-31 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando sale will be return engagement in Florida and will take place not far from the company’s largest annual event, the Kissimmee sale held each January.

Mecum expects a 600-vehicle docket for Tulsa and 1,000 vehicles to cross the block at Orlando, where the event replace the previously announced but later postponed auction Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Mecum also will be back in Monterey, California, with its annual Car Week sale scheduled for August 12-14.

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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