The sale at Mecum in Glendale, Arizona, made in presence as always, is a huge all-American party with audiences wearing cowboy hats and jackets or T-shirts emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes. A wonderful atmosphere that this year, with 774 cars on offer and 644 sold (equivalent to 83.20%), was more than confirmed by the results. But there’s more: compared to 2020, when no fewer than 1,041 cars were offered and sales stopped at a very respectable 65%, the total value of the cars sold ($39,553.90, equal to €33,255,143) nearly doubled from the $23,305,355 in takings last year, while the average price jumped from $31,072 to $61,417.
It is appropriate to use every caution in a period of uncertainty such as the one we are going through at the moment, but the numbers from Mecum demonstrate that Americans long for normality and a return to serenity. And they would appear to believe it’s possible. Looking at the average price per car – around sixty thousand dollars – the number is in line with those of large-volume auctions and, above all, with the reality of the American market where so much demand and supply acts as a sort of counterbalance with undisputable advantages on the liveliness of events.
Although seven of the ten most expensive lots were of European origin, it was a Corvette that won the gold medal of the sale. Understandably, it was no ordinary Corvette, but a 1967 L88. In many respects the Holy Grail of Corvettes: only 20 L88s were produced and this was the only One in Sunfire Yellow, certainly one of the finest examples in existence. With this pedigree this particular example has racked up a number of honours and prizes over the years, especially after a meticulous restoration that lasted 10 years. The price of $2,695,000 (€2,265,835), for those unfamiliar with the model, might make you shudder, but it is correct. Perhaps even slightly lower than expected given that last year they were worth between $1,850,000 and $3,000,000 and those examples weren’t as good as this one.
I’m not a fan of hot rods but if there’s one specimen I would like to own, it is the 1927 Ford Model T known as the “Voodoo Doll.” Not being a huge fan you will forgive me for not knowing much about this world outside our shared hobby, but when I read the name Bruce Meyer and the Petersen Museum and saw reviews in magazines such as Hot Rod, Custom Car, Rod and Custom and Street Rodder, I must admit that my mouth started watering. “Voodoo Doll” is the hot rod par excellence, with a design that emerged from the golden years of this art and its 437/425hp engine (albeit a Buick block) that was perfectly dated between the ‘50s and ‘70s, not the usual modern LS3/6. The $62,700 (€52,715) paid for it wasn’t even that much, I should have given it some thought…
One car I did consider was the 2009 Ferrari Scuderia Spider 16M. Part of the Tod Hunter collection, it had just 1,866 miles on the clock and with its carbon pack, it was the pinnacle of this model. Moreover, the estimate of $175-200,000, almost half (or less) the amount commanded by a similar example in Europe, did the rest. I even started the registration procedure for the auction but got stuck on a bureaucratic stumbling block – I didn’t have some documents at hand and couldn’t get them in time – so I wasn’t among the bidders. In the end that wasn’t such a bad thing as the car was sold for $352,000 (€295,946), slightly less than what you would pay in Europe without considering taxes and transportation.
The recent debut of the Ford Bronco has brought new life to the collectors of this model. On top of this we should add the interest of collectors of all models of off-road vehicles that has increased the appetite of sellers looking to sell for higher numbers. The 1975 Bronco sold by Mecum for $121,000 (€101,731) did not set a new record for the model (which remains at $133,100) but it did set one for the rare Denver Broncos Edition version. Of the 214 examples manufactured, only 66 were equipped with a Sport Pack and this example was in particularly good shape. Of course, having increased the engine from 302ci to 347ci may not have satisfied many but without question this is the model to bet on.
A prediction for the future? We are waiting to see what happens at the next sale of the auction house in Indianapolis, where the “Big Oly”, the Bronco still owned by its driver and part of the Parnelli Jones Collection who won the Baja 1000 in 1971 and 1972, will be offered. There you will see some large numbers, perhaps some very large ones…