Auction Express News: 5/24/07

Historic race cars at Belvidere

    Mecum Auctions announced recently that nine historic race cars will be headlining its 20th anniversary Belvidere High Performance Auction, which will be held at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Belvidere, Ill., on May 23-28.

    Linda Vaughn, the legendary “First Lady of Motorsports,” and Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson will also be among the celebrities scheduled to be in attendance at the auction. They will join veteran racers Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick, Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, “Mr. Norm” Kraus and Pontiac historian Jim Mattison to help Mecum celebrate 20 years in Belvidere.

    The nine feature cars are the 1971 Sox & Martin Pro Stock Hemi ‘Cuda, Bill Jenkins’ “Grumpy’s Toy VIII” ’70-1?2 Camaro Pro Stocker, Mr. Norm’s ’71 “Super Challenger” Funny Car, Jere Stahl’s ’67 Belvedere II Hemi Super Stocker, Arnie “The Farmer” Beswick’s ’61 “Passionate Poncho” Pontiac Ventura and his ’69 Ram Air IV D/Stock GTO Judge.

    Road racers will be represented by the factory prototype 1967 SCCA Trans Am Camaro, driven by Gary Morgan. Additionally, two historic stock cars will be crossing the block, Dick Trickle’s USAC ’69 Torino GT short track racer and the ’90 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy Lumina stock car that was driven by actor Tom Cruise in the movie “Days of Thunder.”

    “This assemblage of historic race cars is a great way to headline our 20th anniversary Belvidere Auction,” said Mecum Auctions President Dana Mecum. “There is a lot of history coming together here.”

    For more information on this event, call 815-568-8888 or visit

Kruse Auburn Spring Motorfair

    The 16th annual Kruse Auburn Spring MotorFair will feature nearly 1,000 collector cars in the auction with three auction rings, plus hundreds more in the swap meet and car corral.

    The auction will take place May 31 to June 3 at the 480-acre Kruse Auction Park in Auburn, Ind., with free parking, vendors, food midway, indoor restrooms and 200,000 square feet of buildings.

Vehicles already consigned to this auction include:
• 1937 Cord Sportsman cabriolet
• 1968 movie car from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” selling at no reserve
• 1930 LaSalle 340 phaeton
• 1931 Cadillac Fleetwood phaeton
• 1938 Ford rumbleseat convertible
• 1908 Lancaster steam car
• Princess Diana’s 1987 Rolls-Royce
Silver Spur limousine, armor plated, selling at no reserve
• 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible
• 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible
• 1966 Ford GT40 continuation coupe
• 1957 Chevrolet Corvette convertible

    Check out the Kruse International Auburn Fall Collector Car Auction on the television show “Bidding Wars” that is currently running on ESPN2. Consult your local programming guide for show times.  

    For more information on this sale, call 800-968-4444 or visit

RM offers McMullen Collection

    RM Auctions will offer an assortment of autos from the collection of John McMullen in a single-day auction, June 9. More than 80 vehicles, many one-off and award-winning examples, will be sold without reserve at the McMullen estate in Lapeer, Mich.

    The product of four decades of selective accumulation, the McMullen Collection consists of a variety of show-quality, fully restored motor cars representing an assortment of types, eras and makes. After years of taking top honors at some of the world’s most prestigious concours events, McMullen’s vehicles have earned the enviable reputation of being “the best of the best.”

    “After 20 years of collecting, restoring and competing, I’ve decided to slow down my pace a little,” says McMullen. “That’s why I’m paring down the size of my collection to make it more manageable.”

    McMullen’s private collection features several vehicles that have competed and won at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, including a 1932 Packard 905 Twin Six Sport Phaeton that captured the Most Elegant Car award.

    In addition to the outstanding 1950s and ’60s cars, the McMullen Collection also includes a array of Edwardian and brass-era cars restored to 100-point condition. The 1913 Packard Model 1-38 Roadster is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of its kind in the world. From the Edwardian era, the McMullen Collection also features a 1903 Cadillac Model A and a rare 1901 U.S. Long Distance Model A.

    Another standout vehicle is the 1930 Cadillac V-16 All-Weather Phaeton – the only Murphy-bodied Cadillac V-16 still in existence. This example won a Best in Class at Pebble Beach and captured the Most Significant General Motors Car award in 2004 at the Meadow Brook Concours.

    A 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster with coachwork by Derham is another of the collection’s stars. Originally owned by actor/comedian Joe E. Brown, the car was eventually acquired by Howard Hughes and later restored by noted collector Otis Chandler. One of only eight such examples produced, this car has been exhibited at the Meadow Brook Concours and Eyes on Design.

    Another vehicle with celebrity provenance is a 1941 Cadillac Derham town car, which was purchased new by Hollywood star Bette Davis. Now restored, this Cadillac is ready for the show circuit.

    “Few personal collections measure up in their entirety to the quality and importance of the cars John McMullen has assembled,” says RM Auctions founder Rob Myers. “Each is an investment-quality showpiece that can continue winning awards for new owners on a regular basis.”

    Auction activities begin June 8 with pre-auction viewing from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The single-day auction begins June 9 at 10 a.m. and concludes at 6 p.m.

    Admission to the John McMullen Collection sale is by catalog only, which admits both the catalog holder and a guest. An auction catalog is available for a fee by calling 800-211-4371.

    Additional information is available at

RM continues Novi tradition

Phil Skinner reporting

    Considered one of the cornerstones of RM Auctions success in the collector car auction business, the annual Spring Michigan International Sale, staged in the racing-orientated city of Novi, was conducted over the weekend of April 28-29. Presented at the Rock Financial Center, a strong crowd came to see the action.

    A total of 187 vehicles crossed the block during the two-day event, with 99 of these declared sold. RM’s post-block sales team was busy with more than a dozen cars reported as selling after they had left the block (see Novi Post Block Sales results below). Overall sell-through was rated at 59.6 percent.

    Taking the high sale of this event was a 1969 Dodge Coronet R/T convertible reported as selling (post block) at $220,000 with the sales commission included, or $203,700 without.

    The volume of vehicles at this sale was down considerably from recent years, and insiders at the auction company explained that the market is still strong, so owners are able to sell their cars outside the auction arena in private transactions. This is a trend we have observed at a number of sales this season.

    Just looking at this event’s recent history, this year showed a stronger sell- through and nearly a half-million dollar gain in the sales total over the spring 2006 auction, despite nearly 60 fewer cars in the lineup. However, going back two years, where 279 vehicles had been consigned to this sale with a slightly stronger sell-through rating of 62.8 percent was seen and nearly $2.75 million in sales.

    On the Sunday morning session, a somber moment came when it was announced that long-time RM employee and a regular on the auction crew, Clark Ferguson, had passed away earlier that morning.

RM Novi post block sale list
1984 Cadillac Coupe de Ville 2d HT
sold @ $5,400
1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 2d HT
sold @ $40,000
1984 Chevrolet Corvette Z51 coupe
sold @ $10,800
1969 Dodge Coronet R/T convertible
sold @ $203,700
1979 Dodge Adventurer Lil’ Red Wagon PU sold @ $10,100
1930 Ford Model AA 2d 1T tow-truck
sold @ $20,250
SPCN ’33 Ford 2d roadster hot rod replica sold @ $46,500
1940 Ford Deluxe sedan sold @ $11,000
1940 Lincoln Continental convertible
sold @ $45,000
1956 Mercury Montclair 2d HT
sold @ $32,000
1963 Oldsmobile Starfire 2d HT (chopped-top custom) sold @ $35,500
1970 Plymouth Roadrunner 2d HT
sold @ $21,750
1969 Shelby Mustang GT350 2d FBk
sold @ $61,100
1956 Harley Davidson Hummer 165cc trail bike sold @ $4,000

Mecum Spring Dream Classic

B. Mitchell Carlson &
Roy Velander reporting  

    Mecum Collector Car Auctioneers presented its Spring K.C. Dream Classic Auction in Kansas City, Mo., on April 27-28. Of the 257 lots offered, 144 were declared sold. This represents a sell-through rating of 56 percent.

    While there were more cars than ever consigned, and only five fewer cars sold this year than a year ago, a lower ratio of sales was the end result.  This can be more attributed to consigners sticking firm and fast to their reserves, with only a few reserves dropping to complete a sale. This was especially true of the huge muscle car segment that was consigned.  

    If there were two “official cars” of the auction, they had to be the 1966 Ford Mustang and the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle. While the latter can be attributed to the continued strong interest in the mid-sized Chevy (albeit in its original configuration or contrived as some fake SS-454 LS6), the copious number of 1966 Mustangs was a bit unexpected. This was mainly due to a couple of Mustang-only dealerships consigning a number of cars, but there was also about half that number having been consigned by individuals.  In either case, selling prices generally followed national trends of being stable, neither bargains nor record prices.  

    One of the better buys of the weekend was a 1968 Camaro coupe, retaining its original 250-cid six-cylinder engine and Powerglide automatic transmission. With the ever-escalating prices, along with the continued realization that the “clone car” market is falling apart, these are being appreciated by a greater market. While until recently this car would have only been generally desired as the base for some wannabe SS-396 or Z28, this thrifty and relatively carefree powertrain will go on your local drive-in cruise just as easily (probably easier) than its more powerful cousins.  Since most of these cars have already been morphed into something else, the supply of originals is far lower than their more powerful brethren, so values are moderately increasing.

Soulis Wide Open Auction

B. Mitchell Carlson &
Roy Velander reporting

    Dick Soulis Auctions presented its Wide Open Auction of Antique Motorcycles & Classic Cars in Lone Jack, Mo., on April 29. All 10 cars and all 23 motorcycles offered were declared sold.

    One offshoot of the Mecum Kansas City spring auction was that a local auction company, Dick Soulis Auctions, conducted a sale of collectible cars and significant motorcycles on the same weekend.  However, while Mecum did its thing on Friday and Saturday, the automotive portion of the Soulis event was held on Sunday, in order to not conflict and draw in some of the Mecum crowd.  

    Soulis’ facility in Lone Jack was a bit cramped, with the majority of the cars wedged in along with the motorcycles and other small items. As for the motorcycles, they did one novel thing with mounting most of them on a small, short table with skids on the bottom. That way, when that bike was up for bids, a ringman put a pallet jack under it and rolled it in front of the podium. After it was spun around a couple times on this “hillbilly turntable,” it was then easily moved to the back room after it was declared sold. As the sale continued on, more room was created for the bidders and spectators.

    One thing that could have been improved was the speed and tempo of the sale. Unlike most other auction companies, this one intentionally took its time on the larger items, taking anywhere from five to eight minutes for each of the vehicles to sell.

    While the selling prices for the motorcycles tended to reflect the overall marketplace, those for most of the cars can best be described as ridiculous. The Pontiacs, in particular, sold for at least double of what would be expected, especially based on condition. A 1970 GTO, as an example, was quite ratty, was at least questionable as to whether it wore its original cylinder heads, had heavily worn paint, and was generally unkempt from inadequate storage. Yet, it still was bid on strongly by multiple parties. Go figure.