By on November 3, 2016

Mecum Auction Dallas 2015

I have a sickness. I can’t stop shopping for classic cars I’ve no hope of buying. While I’ve been shopping eBay, Craigslist, various forums, and other classic sites over the years, I’ve never spent much time looking at auctions. The prices seem inflated — especially when the auction house’s cut is considered.

But perhaps that’s a good thing. Private party sales via classifieds introduce a significant element of risk, either via outright fraud or the natural problems of handing over either a title or a wad of cash to an outright stranger. Classic car auctions are appealing since there is a nominally neutral third-party involved in the transaction.

So, I’ve decided to virtually wade into the crowd and see what’s coming Across The Block. In an occasional series, I’ll pick out several interesting cars coming up for auction that weekend, discuss them briefly, and make wild guesses to their eventual hammer price.

By “interesting” I mean I’ll be looking beyond the usual Corvette, Mustang, Challenger, and Tri-Five Chevy that seem to make up many cars at these auctions. I’m not saying they aren’t cool, but how many “re-creations” of a GT350-H do we really want to see every January?

Following the close of the auction, I’ll be back with the final sale price of each of these cars so we can all point and laugh at how pathetic my estimates were.

This weekend’s auction is from Mecum in Dallas. Mecum’s auctions are often televised and this weekend’s action will be on NBCSN.

1969 AMC “Big Bad” Javelin SST

1969 AMC Javelin SST Orange

See, I don’t hate muscle cars … I just prefer cars that aren’t particularly mainstream. AMC is definitely not mainstream. With a proper racing pedigree, the Javelin is one of my favorites of the era. This one’s been restored to showroom condition — and magnificently so. The “Big Bad” in the name means it came with a bunch of appearance bits, including the funky rooftop spoiler and the faux sidepipes. The 390ci V8 backed up by a heavy-duty Borg-Warner automatic should prove stout off the line.

Mecum estimate: $50,000–75,000

My guess: $30,000

It may be one of the nicest street Javelins around, but these just don’t seem to fetch big money like muscle and pony cars from the Big Three. I’d love to be proven wrong.

1965 Sunbeam Tiger

1965 Sunbeam Tiger blue

The Tiger is fast becoming a hot collector car. Between the undeniable Shelby cachet and the sleeper performance afforded by the Ford V8 under the hood of a lightweight roadster, it’s not surprising fanatics are warming to Sunbeam’s last real sports car.

This just isn’t the one I’d buy. It looks good, but it’s been over restored. The wheels and tires are improperly sized; while Minilites (and similar wheels) are always appropriate on something old and British, the tall sidewalls and raised-white-letter BFG tires just look wrong here. The small diameter wooden steering wheel is similarly out-of-place. While these can be changed, the original engine is gone, too, replaced by a Ford 302 crate motor. It nearly doubles the horsepower from the original 260ci V8, but originality is important when playing in this market.

Mecum estimate: $100,000-125,000

My guess: $45,000

1972 Stutz Blackhawk

1972 Stutz Blackhawk black orange

Fun fact: I was briefly an Elvis impersonator! Though, that’s mostly because while I was the first in my high-school class to be able to grow significant facial hair. It would only come in nicely in my sideburns, so I went with it. I had my mom sew me a fat, Vegas-era, white polyester jumpsuit with a gold lamé cape and everything for my freshman Halloween party, too. Good times.

Anyhow, I mention this as Elvis was the very first owner of a pimptastic Stutz Blackhawk, a Grand Prix-based luxury car just perfect for the ’70s. Not this one, mind you — Elvis owned a ’70, while this black and orange model is from 1972. It continued in very limited production until the late ’80s. The bodywork was built by various Italian coachbuilders and the interior was endlessly customizable. It’s a testament to glorious excess.

Mecum estimate: $45,000–55,000

My guess: $22,000

It’s an expensively built car, certainly, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good car. If it were a celebrity-owned example, maybe I could see it pulling big bucks.

1969 Volkswagen Squareback Custom

1969 Volkswagen Squareback black

Air-cooled Volkswagens aren’t my thing. I don’t know why, but I’ve never felt the attraction to these enjoyed by my many fellow gearheads. They just seem slow.

But I love wagons.

And while I’d never surf, I love the look of this custom, surf-ready Squareback. It’s simple, ratty, and absolutely glorious. The tires are mismatched … I don’t know if I dig that. The flat black paint is rough in spots, too, but that’s the appeal.

Mecum estimate: $7,000–8,000

My guess: $12,000

I’m thinking there will be at least two buyers who tire of the endless muscle cars, and want to buy something cheap and fun. It’s being sold with no reserve, someone could make out with a deal.

So, check back next week, and we will see how poor my guesses are!

[Images: Mecum Auction, Inc.]

Chris Tonn is the Large Editor at Large for Car Of The Day, a classic-car focused site highlighting cool and unusual finds.

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34 Comments on “Across The Block: Mecum Auctions, Dallas...”

  • avatar

    I am amazed by the serious money these cars fetch at auctions. I do have a problem, if that is the word. Or is jealousy? Perhaps both, because I can’t afford anything like what I see on these shows.

    What gets me is that it appears that the owners of these cars are only in it for the money and I wonder if they enjoy the cars, or is it strictly an investment? Whether I think that’s right or wrong, serious cash is made many times, and sometimes it isn’t.

    I do get somewhat annoyed at Wayne Carina on the Velocity Channel on Chasing Classic Cars, however. But in fairness, he states that he’s in it for the chase, and he buys cars and sells them right away. I can either watch or not.

    Nice work if you can afford it, I guess.

    For me, I’d like to ONE old car I actually want to own AND drive AND enjoy for a very long time!

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what Wayne does for a living, he’s a classic car dealer. He has cars of his own as well.

    • 0 avatar

      It doesn’t have to be all one or the other. A business partner of mine will buy a classic muscle car for as low as he can, drive it around for a few months and sell it for as much as he can get. Worst case, he breaks even, but has a blast doing it.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In order:
    1) If I was going to buy a muscle car of that era. the AMC, AMX would be my choice. A better vehicle than the Javelin for its intended purpose.
    2) Would love the Tiger if a) I could dress and talk like Max Smart, b) I could get a young Barbara Feldon to ride around in it with me.
    3) Didn’t Barry White have a Stutz? Didn’t we see it restored on that car show based out of Vegas where the wreck their restorations with over the top paint jobs?
    4) I had a Type III squareback/shooting brake/estate/wagon. Not as rare as the Type IV squareback that we replaced it with. The Type III was actually more reliable but prone to rust problems. Would love one, in manual please.

  • avatar

    Looking forward to how wrong you are , Glad you will update the prices in the next part of the series, I would pass on all of these

  • avatar

    Strangely I like them all.

    That color combo on the Stutz though looks like the car missed the Halloween party it was supposed to attend.

    With any of these – if you want a toy, good for you, if you expect this to be an investment…


  • avatar

    Auctions can be fun, but every time I’ve seen a car that I thought was interesting and made a bid, some would counter me out of no where and I’m too cheap to get in a bidding war. Besides I only really know British sport cars and they are rarely at these auctions.

  • avatar

    These are fun events to attend. A combination of car show and extravaganza and pretty cheap at $20 (bidders pay extra). And it is interesting to see that the words “complete restoration” have about 1,000 meanings. Early on the 1st day is interesting as a vast assortment of cars go through in the affordable range, $5k-$15k. A nice thing about attending is that you really don’t have to be an expert at divining why one GTO goes through at $35k, and another at $75k. You can just look at them and see why.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree Cliff, I have been going to Barrett Jackson Scottsdale for a few years now and I love it. If you love these old cars, it’s a great cheap way to spend a few days even if you have no intent on bidding. Last year I would guess I only spent 4-5 total hours over 3 days actually seated in the auction arena. The Barrett Jackson Scottsdale grounds are massive. Can’t wait till January.

      Combination of car show, car auction, home show and county fair all rolled into one…….and the people watching is interesting as well.

  • avatar

    I would never sell a car at one of these. I am always amazed (especially at B-J) how some cars are rushed through in a couple of minutes while lesser cars (owned by friends or big consignors) are dragged out seemingly forever with few or no bids.

  • avatar

    Every once in a while I get a hankering for a classic car. Then I get up close to one and realize I’m spoiled by the modern stuff.

  • avatar

    Look at the photo, folks. The one of the people actually at these auctions. Now, having looked at that photo, can you tell me what most of those present have in common? And can you now tell me what’s going to happen over the course of the next 20-30 years to the cars those folks own, and the prices they fetch at the moment?

    • 0 avatar

      2036 Advertisement:

      “In 2016 my dad payed $64,000 for this at Mecum, worth more then tht now $80,ooo o,bo”

      • 0 avatar

        Assuming inflation stays the same, $80,000 in 2036 will be worth $52,000 in 2016 dollars. So that would in fact be a small price cut.

        • 0 avatar

          I think what mazdathreeve was trying to say is… 20-30 years when all us old geezers who love, buy and sell these cars are dead the market will collapse……I sort of agree.

          I know the 35-45 year old guys in my extended family have little interest in them. I doubt my sons will keep my 2 collector cars when I’m gone.

          • 0 avatar

            Maybe your sons and extended family are dead inside. But seriously, it’s not as if antiques, art, guns,etc, lose much if any value once their original owners reach an age of extinction. My 19 year old nephew and all his buddies are deep into the vintage muscle car craze, thanks to their parents with deep pockets.

          • 0 avatar

            They’re not dead inside Mike, they just have other interests. Some of them are into their expensive trucks and off road vehicles, some are into skiing, my son plays ice hockey in an adult men’s league and plays nearly year round, etc. There is a limit to the number of expensive hobbies most people can afford…..and my guys all make good money.

            Time is a factor too, they have young families with kids and the kids activities take up tons of time.

          • 0 avatar

            Of course not, I didn’t mean to offend, and obviously collecting or liking classic muscle cars isn’t for everyone. But muscle cars should gain in value over time. Prices are down right now as the bubble has burst for the most, and the economy is down with uncertainty. But most old thing go up in value dramatically, but muscle cars are one of those collectibles you do more than just stare at.

          • 0 avatar

            “muscle cars are one of those collectibles you do more than just stare at.”

            True, you can also take them out and get smoked by a nice, quiet Camry or Accord.

            They’re like the black powder firearms arms of the car world.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s plain goofy. Who in a Camry would think of street racing a big block Chevelle or something? And why would the Chevelle owner take the challenge??

            A minivan might be faster too, but clearly you don’t get it.

          • 0 avatar

            Heh… this topic makes you as literal as Rainman.

            Of course I get it, I was in middle & high school during the muscle car era. Some of us grew up, some stayed stuck in Al Bundy mode.

          • 0 avatar

            A muscle car shouldn’t define and old dude that was there for the era, no different than when it’s a young dude.

            But OK name the hobby that defines you.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @DenverMike, sorry but history has proven you wrong. Other collecting trends have seen the same phenomena. People tend to want to buy what was ‘hot’ when they were young. Things that they have an emotional attachment to. Maybe they had one and had to sell it or maybe they could not afford one.

            So once they hit a certain age or income level, they buy it.

            However once they are too old, then it gets sold. However the younger generation does not have the same emotional attachment. Therefore the price plummets.

            One example is pre 1950’s autos. Only the very best of the best have appreciated. The demand for others has decreased.

            The same will happen for muscle cars. The most collectible such as Superbirds and Shelbys will retain their value. The others will be swept into the remainder bins.

            And if Millenials even ‘invest’ in automobiles when they are old enough, it will be the ones that they remember from Grand Theft Auto.

            There may be the odd exception, the kid who enjoyed tinkering/driving a muscle car with his father and keeps it as a homage, but they are few and far between.

          • 0 avatar

            Old dudes have the money to spend freely more any other dudes,’but who’s to say the next generations won’t be into muscle cars in addition to ’90s, and ’80s sports/pony cars when they get old?

          • 0 avatar

            @Arthur Daily – That makes no sense. By your math, everything that’s older than 100 years old will automatically be headed to the recycle bin. Old cars are definitely the exception if there’s any.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Mike, because history has proven it. 1930’s/1940’s autos, baseball/hockey cards from the 1950’s etc. Just some examples. The bottom fell out of those markets, except for the very best of the best. Have seen multiple sports memorabilia stores close down and the prices on ‘collections’ decimated to cents on the dollar from what they were valued at 15 to 20 years ago.

            Check the prices on Model T’s and similar pre-War vehicles. No longer a ‘hot’ market.

            This is due to the generation that grew up with them getting old and the newer generations not having the same emotional attachment.

            If you are talking about Duesenbergs, Bugattis or similar ‘best of the best’ that is not the case, they will retain their value. But the mainstream ‘collectible’ will not. So your hopped up Nova, Dart etc is not and will not be coveted by the younger generation. The majority have never driven in or worked on one and therefore have zero emotional attachment to them. And the4 can buy a Toyota or Honda sedan that outperforms many of them. Already many are viewing our treasured memories as nothing more than ‘old man cars’.

          • 0 avatar

            Old cars as a rule, no. There was nothing special about Model T’s, A’s and the like, not back then and not now. Yeah we’re only talking about the very best cars from the Muscle Car Era that have really appreciated, not the random Ramblers, base Barracudas, etc.

            But again, it not about the 0-60 even if that was what it was about back then.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Mike, Yes the rare and exotic like previously mentioned Superbirds, Shelby’s etc.

            But the run of the mill, mainline auto of that era will devalue. Just like the 1920’s to 1940’s vehicles did over the past decade.

            That is what collecting is about, knowing what will hold its value. Just because something is old or rare does not make it valuable. It is only the best quality or the best condition items or something with historical significance that maintains value over time.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s exactly what I’m saying too. The run of the mill cars have never held any value and never will. It doesn’t matter if they’re from the 20s, 40s, Muscle Car Era or whenever.

          • 0 avatar

            Right now many that collect LP records are teenagers, because they can hear the difference over MP3s, but clearly some old records aren’t worth a penny.

          • 0 avatar

            Good thread guys, enjoyed reading all the thoughts.

            My one collector car is a 1967 Pontiac Catalina Ventura 2dr Cpe. It was my Dad’s last car…..that is my attachment to it. Although it is in great shape, has only 60,000 miles, and is all original it will never be worth more than $15Kish.

            My other is a 1991(Fox Body) Mustang GT Conv’t, 5-speed, very low 31,000 miles. Although it’s more interesting and fun than the Pontiac, I don’t think it will ever be a high dollar car, even 25 years from now. I have no attachment to it other than it is a blast to drive.

  • avatar

    Originality is less important in the Tiger market than in pretty much any other ’60s sports car’s market, perhaps because original ones are slow in a straight line relative to something like a C2 Corvette or Shelby GT350 and handle poorly. 164 hp was good for 0-60 mph in 9 seconds while putting far too much weight on the Alpine’s front end.

    The trouble with this one’s looks isn’t the tall sidewalls. Originally, they’d have been taller still. It’s probably that the wheels are too large in diameter, most likely to make room for brakes that work.

  • avatar

    I’m a stone’s throw away, I should go and check it out this weekend.

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