USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum

  • 18 October 2023
  • 4 min read
  • 10 images
USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum image

Photo credit: Barrett-Jackson, Mecum

Cliff Goodall’s view

We return to America to showcase two auctions that reveal the heartbeat of collectors who buy for the love of it. With this in mind, we’ve brought together two of the most captivating sales of recent weeks: Barrett-Jackson, which organised a three-day event from 28th to 30th September in Las Vegas, and Mecum with their “Indy Special”, a three-day version (5th-7th October) of their bestseller in Indianapolis.

Barrett-Jackson New Orleans, 30th September 2023 Barrett-Jackson New Orleans, 30th September 2023 The numbers speak for themselves: Barrett-Jackson brought “only” 352 cars to their event but, thanks to its no-reserve policy, sold them all. Mecum, on the other hand, gathered a staggering 747 cars under its tent. Although some went unsold, 70.95%, or 530 cars, were successfully auctioned. An excellent result, indeed.

Barrett-Jackson also “won” in terms of turnover, with $21,557,425 in takings against Mecum’s $18,091,710. Consequently, the average prices were higher for the former ($61,243) compared to the latter ($34,135).

Mecum Indianapolis, 7th October 2023 Mecum Indianapolis, 7th October 2023 Now, let’s look at the cars. In auctions like these, choices are often dictated by personal taste and nostalgia, rather than Excel sheets and market trends so no matter what you choose, you walk away with a smile.

The lone exception, naturally, is the top lot. At the top of the tree at Barrett-Jackson was a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette. This, however, was no ordinary C1 Roadster, but a high-end restomod. The chassis was by Art Morrison (a leading expert, for those who don’t know), the engine a brand-new 6.2-litre LS3, and a 4L60E automatic transmission that was professionally built to 4L70E standards. For Europeans, these details might mean little, but for Americans, it’s the equivalent of a Porsche 911 Singer. The selling price? $660,000 – half the price of a Porsche Singer.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 11958 Chevrolet Corvette Custom Convertible sold for $660,000 (€622,425)

In Indianapolis, the queen was a Ford. Specifically, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 Fastback. Restored between 2017 and 2021, its 428ci V8 was one of the last rebuilt by Barry Rabtonick. The Nightmist Blue with White LeMans stripes colour scheme was stunning, as was the stick shift (recently back in fashion among American collectors), and the rare Parchment Comfort Weave interior – only 8% have it. The sale price of $275,000 was fully deserved.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 21967 Shelby GT500 Fastback sold for $275,000 (€259,340)

The first car we encounter from Barrett-Jackson is a Special Construction Sprint Car. Between the late ‘40s and mid-’50s (this car was from 1953), these cars were very popular – small bodies and massive engines. In this case, the V8 is shoehorned under the bonnet, but to deliver the power to the wheels, there’s a three-speed gearbox. Driven by Raymond Batts, a driver not well-known outside Michigan, it spent many years in a car museum. Of the trio from the Las Vegas sale, this was the cheapest: $7,150.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 31952 Special Construction Sprint Car sold for $7,150 (€6,740)

My second favourite car was the 1971 Plymouth Road Runner with a 383ci 8-cylinder engine and a 4-speed manual transmission with a “pistol-grip” shifter (I don’t know what that means, and I don’t want to find out, either). In good condition and with 59,500 miles on the clock, its trump card was the original Lemon Twist paint, a yellow so intense that even in the ‘70s it was embarrassing. A ‘60s muscle car would probably break our $100,000 budget, but for this one, $45,100 was enough to seal the deal.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 41971 Plymouth Road Runner sold for $45,100 (€42,530)

The third Barrett-Jackson car also had a V8, and again its trump card was the colour. In truth, the 1966 Ford Mustang GT Convertible first struck me with its GT livery and its colour: copper with a red interior. It also stayed comfortably within our five-figure budget at $71,500.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 51966 Ford Mustang GT Convertible sold for $71,500 (€67,435)

With the aim of not exceeding $100,000, we now turn to Mecum.

On the very first day, a 1991 Cadillac Allante Convertible was sold for $2,200. For this price, you would have taken home a 4.5 V8 with an automatic transmission, luxurious interior, and a Pininfarina design. The body was made in Italy and then shipped to Detroit for assembly. This curious method was ironically called “The world’s longest assembly line.”

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 61991 Cadillac Allante Convertible sold for $2,200 (€2,075)

Then I came across a Lotus Elise second series from 2005! Not only that, it sported a Chrome Orange exterior and tan leather high back bucket seats, seven-spoke wheels and the most powerful engine, the 1.8L DOHC inline 4-cylinder unit rated at 190 HP. But the most enticing detail of all, 1,360 miles from new! The price for this beautiful sculpture? $55,000.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 72005 Lotus Elise sold for $55,000 (€51,875)

The last temptation was a 1937 Ford V8 Panel Truck with its three-speed manual gearbox. Between the ‘30s and ‘50s, it was the most common van on American roads, but this one is even more American because it was painted in Coca-Cola livery. Vans are an exciting niche in the market but remain reasonably priced. At $23,100, it would be an economical and whimsical purchase. I’d install a large fridge to keep the bottles cool, just to remove any doubt.

USA: Deals and choices galore at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum - 81937 Ford Panel Truck sold for $23,100 (€21,785)