Market and auctions

Pleasure deals

After selling 281 cars in Las Vegas, Mecum confirms that in America cars truly are objects of pleasure.
Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: Mecum

Auctions made in halls, complete with buyers and bids, have an engaging drama about them that is one of the hallmarks of their success. And it should be said that just like a good thriller, you never know who won or who lost until the very end.

So, what better place than Las Vegas to organize an auction, in the city of pleasure (and sin) as well as some truly legendary plot twists? Here Mecum tried its luck by bringing, as usual, a large number of cars of every type and nature, 398 of them to be precise. The result was 281 cars (70.6%) sold, which brought in $12.5 million – the auction house does not estimate the cars before auction even though many cars had reserve prices. A considerable success considering that Mecum has steadily increased the sales percentages of its auctions in recent months, previously it was between 50% and 60%. I can make two hypotheses here: the first is that many collectors don’t like their cars being offered online. Those like Mecum, who put on live auctions, find more sellers and, as a result, can bargain for better reserves. The second hypothesis is that buyers find the challenge of a live room simply more satisfying. A game that finds its natural in Las Vegas.

In Las Vegas, everything is eccentric and full of glitter, and that’s why we decided to point out four truly eccentric cars.

1930 Ford Model A Custom Woody sold for $24,200

The Ford Model A Custom Woody is the epitome of American custom cars. The bodywork was that of a Model A from 1930 in a sparkling and decidedly contemporary turquoise colour scheme complete with a wooden rear as befits station wagons of that period. Under the skin, however, was a powerful small block V8 Chevrolet engine producing a few hundred horsepower paired with an automatic transmission. But it was the tyres that gave this wolf in sheep’s clothing away. Massive even by modern standards, with gleaming custom alloy wheels. The entry price to the world of custom cars? Not that much, actually: $24,200.

2018 Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet went unsold at $700,000

On the other side of the spectrum was the 2018 Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet – the car any self-acclaimed dictator would want. 4×4 to blast across war zones, a long wheelbase and power convertible rear top (landaulet, in fact) for military parades driven by a 630 hp powerplant with 1,000 Nm on tap to escape attacks. The only flaw? A small trunk, so very few political dissidents would fit. No joking here though: only 99 examples were made and only in white (with red interior) with an original list price of one million dollars, on top of which you had to add accessories. This example went unsold but did receive an offer for $700,000.

1967 Ferrari P4 Replica sold for $225,500

Whoever saw the Ford vs Ferrari movie would have recognized it instantly. This 1967 Ferrari P4 was Ken Miles’ bitter enemy during Le Mans driven by Lorenzo Bandini. Obviously a replica, but very, very well made. Equipped with a Ferrari V12 engine and the correct gearbox for type and period, it featured aluminium bodywork and was produced about ten years ago by the doyen of replicas, Rod Tempero. Sold for $225,500, this is probably a fraction of what it cost to reproduce it, so the buyer took home an absolute bargain: more or less 1% on the cost of a real one! Beautiful, but would I put it in the garage? With those sinuous curves I would have escorted it to the bedroom as well.

2003 Chevrolet Corvette AAT Conversion sold for $55,000

We conclude this roundup with something that sums up everything we consider to be eccentric, bordering on the kitsch. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet Corvette, in 2003 AAT (Advance Automotive Technologies) created a hybrid between the original and the C5 – the version on the market at the time that gave it its mechanics. Something akin to a steam punk contraption came out. Produced in 200 examples and available in 6 colours, with white with cherry red interior the most representative of the 1953 version. The price? $55,000, probably twice or even triple a C5 in similar condition.