Mecum and RM: Two deserts under the same sun

  • 30 March 2024
  • 4 min read
  • 13 images
Mecum and RM: Two deserts under the same sun image

Photo credit: Mecum, RM Sotheby’s

Mecum and RM organised two auctions "in the middle of the desert". Although Glendale in Arizona is not comparable to Dubai in the Emirates, one thing is for sure: Deserts do not naturally have an aptitude for cars. Especially the Middle East where there is no tradition of classic cars. It is enough to mention that an Iconic auction in Riyadh in 2019 had placed only 3% of the cars, practically nothing, whereas this year the percentage has risen to 29%. Few units, all still quite unrefined, but the road ahead seems mapped out.

To stay in the Middle East, let's look at RM's numbers: In Dubai it managed to close with a magnificent 72.73%, despite having only 3 lots offered without reserve, a sign that buyers and sellers were in full agreement on the real values of the cars. We have to consider that there were only 8 out of 22 "last century" cars of which 3 were over 30 years old, but then again, you have to give the market what it wants. The average price of $1,049,108 speaks for itself.
RM Sotheby-s, Dubai, 8th March 2024
Mecum had a different, volume-oriented scenario: 1341 lots with an average price per sold car of $63,574. Different target, different reality, different tradition. Although Mecum sold fewer cars than last year, total sales were slightly higher: Some $55.7 million against last year's $54.2 million, and the number would have been even better if there had not been a shortage of top lots. In the first four days of the auction from 5 to 9 of March, 70% of the lots were sold, while the last, the one dedicated to the most expensive lots, fell to 52%.
Mecum, Glendale, 9th March 2024
What about the cars?

RM provided a remarkable number of modern hypercars with the top lot being a 2016 Koenigsegg Agera RSR: Only three produced in total, 5.0 V8 with 1160 horsepower and only 933 km! The estimate of $2,800,000-3,400,000 was correct and $3,360,000 stands as a fair price. Indeed a benchmark price, since there are unlikely to be any more on the market.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 1 2016 Koenigsegg Agera RSR sold for $3,380,000 (€3,124,300)

Second place for a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss, which was sold brand new in Luxembourg in 2009 and then exported to the Middle East. Again, the mileage was low: 9233 km. The estimate of $3,000,000-3,500,000 was perfectly hit at $3,211,250.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 2 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss sold for $3,211,250 (€2,968,300)

It is interesting to see that classic cars are also making their mark in the Emirates, in fact all three cars over 30 years old were sold.

The 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly Ghia (the oldest of the bunch) changed hands for a mere $39,100, but it had such a patchy history that one could doubt whether it was a real Jolly.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 3 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly by Ghia sold for $39,100 (€36,150)

A 1985 Renault 5 Turbo 2 with very rare American specifications and just 15,603 miles fared better. The estimate of $100,000-120,000 was in line with what one might pay for the same car in France and so the price of $103,500 was a confirmation of the maturity this market has reached.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 4 1985 Renault 5 Turbo 2 sold for $103,500 (€95,650)

Obviously, the prancing horse cars were also successful, and the three oldest ones achieved results comparable to or even above their Euro-American equivalents: A 1997 manual Ferrari F355 Spider with 61,000 km went for $189,750 (above the estimate of $140,000-160,000), a 2004 360 Challenge Stradale changed hands for $218,500 (perfectly in line with estimates of $200,000-250,000) while a 1993 Ferrari 512TR with 13,000 km hit the mark at $275,000, matching global estimates and prices.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 5 2004 Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale sold for $218,500 (€202,000)

Mecum also focused heavily on Ferraris, bringing both a F40 and an Enzo. The first was a 1992, one of 60 with American specifications for that model year and 9488 miles. Coming in at $2.7 million, the bidding stalled. The 2003 Enzo (27,000 km and Ferrari Classiche certified) managed to go as high as $2.9 million but remained unsold.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 6 2003 Ferrari Enzo went unsold at $2,900,000 (€2,680,500)

At that point, a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Coupe took the throne of the most expensive car. The C2 series L88 Corvettes (the Stingray, to be clear) are the holy grail of Corvettes, with just 20 ever built. In 2021 this model was sold for $2,695,000. Driven for just 9 miles since that time it has lost almost $900,000 of its value and sold for $1,815,000. Well bought indeed.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 7 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Coupe sold for $1,815,000 (€1,677,700)

A curious and super-collectible 1969 Cadillac Eldorado VIII series. Its first owner was Elvis Presley who used it in his Beverly Hills home until 1973. Elvis continues to be in grand form and the film about him, now in cinemas around the world, definitely also helped. Anyway, the price of $253,000 stands as the new record but perhaps even more interesting is that on the same day another 1967 Cadillac Eldorado VIII series, without any history, changed hands for $104,500. The previous record? $54.500.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 8 1969 Cadillac Eldorado ex-Elvis Presley sold for $253,000 (€233,800)

Three lots were sold in sequence on Thursday. The W230 was an orange 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 that sold for $27,500.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 9 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT-8 sold for $27,500 (€25,400)

A 1975 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 with the more powerful 4.2 litre (as opposed to the 3.9) went for $25,300.

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 10 1975 Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruiser sold for $25,300 (€23,400)

Next up was lot W232, a 1966 Ford Mustang 289 Notchback but with the 302 engine installed which sold for $22,000.

Three great examples of affordable passion for cars, which one would you have chosen?

Mecum and RM: two deserts, same sun. - 11 1966 Ford Mustang sold for $22,000 (€20,300)