When the final car crossed the block in Kissimmee, Florida at Mecum’s 2013 event and the totals were in, the stage was set to determine the winner of the “Superbowl” of auctions. Over the last several weeks it was hard to avoid all of the auction coverage that took place in Scottsdale, Arizona, headlined with the extravaganza staged by Barrett-Jackson, and the east coast contender, Mecum. To many readers it may have seemed a bit confusing as to just what was the “premier” auction event in January, Barrett-Jackson or Mecum. I’m not sure that we can designate which auction was “best” since that is a subjective evaluation and dependent on individual tastes. But for those of you who have a penchant for numbers, we can provide you with a numbers comparison to help you decide the destination of your 2014 plane ticket.
It should be pointed out that both Barrett-Jackson and Mecum staged outstanding events and produced the best results in their storied histories. Those of you who have either consigned or bought a collector car at auction realize there are several variables aside from sales and fees to consider when deciding which auction may suit your needs.
First lets look at the venue. Barrett-Jackson takes place over seven days from January 13th through the 20th in Scottsdale, Arizona. Due to the number of consignments Mecum requires ten days, January 18th to the 27th in Kissimmee, Florida. Barrett-Jackson reported that they saw a significant increase in attendance this year topping 300,000, approximately a 20% increase. Mecum announced attendance of over 75,000 whether they stayed a few hours or ten days. Both auctions are laden with other activities giving more of a festival atmosphere to the events. But in the attendance category Barrett-Jackson takes the lead.
This leads to the first of the significant categories of difference in the two spectacular events. A major objective of both auctions was to increase consignments over 2012’s results. Mecum’s 2012 Kissimmee auction captured the title of the world’s largest collector car auction based on consignments with 2,158 cars. Mecum set the aggressive goal of 3000 cars for 2013 and though they fell a little short at 2,610 cars, it was still a 20% improvement and enough to maintain the title. Mecum is a reserve type auction and as a result some cars do not meet the consignor’s reserve and go unsold. Of the 2,610 cars crossing the block at Mecum’s 1,811 sold, almost a 70% sell through. Barrett-Jackson also improved consignments over 2012 with 1,343 cars sold versus 1296 in 2012. Barrett-Jackson differs from Mecum’s in that it places reserves on only very few high value cars and as a result Barrett-Jackson’s sell through is in the 98% range. So looking at the number of cars sold the nod goes to Mecum’s with 1,811 cars sold, 35% more than their Scottsdale rival Barrett-Jackson who sold 1,343.
Perhaps the top three categories for a successful auction are consignments, cars sold, and dollar sales. As we look at these it is important to keep in mind that the type of consignments (re: quality, rarity, significance, provenance) will greatly affect the dollar sales results.
For example Barrett-Jackson offered their salon collection, (53 classic, high value, rare collectible cars) which realized over $29 million alone and drove the Average Selling Price per Car (ASP) up. Mecum also offered high value collectible classic cars but they also had a larger number of entry level cars of various quality to sell, which tends to drive the ASP down. So when we review one component of sales, Average Selling Price (ASP), you must keep in mind it is affected by several variables including attendance. Just to show how variable the ASP can be; RM Auction had an ASP of $485,500 per car during their one day sale in Scottsdale auction this year. But in the Superbowl of Auctions B-J takes the honors with an ASP per car of $81,200, up $12,000 per car from last year. Mecum’s ASP for this year $39,500 per car, up over $2,000 per car over 2012.
A few other interesting facts in the area of sales: Barrett-Jackson had ten cars that sold for over $1.0 million. Two world’s records were set (a 1956 Chrysler Diablo Concept car sold for $1.375 million and a 1947 Talbot-Lago T 26 Grand Sport sold for $2.035 million) in addition to the original 1966 George Barris’ Batmobile which sold for over $4.62 million.
The final numbers (though Mecum’s could go up slightly due to their “Bid Goes On” feature which continues to try and sell cars that did not reach the consignor’s minimum) are:
Barrett-Jackson $108,766,000 a 17% increase over 2012.
Mecum $71,636,000 a 23% increase over 2012.
Nod goes to Barrett-Jackson for Total Sales and Mecum for % Increase.
So where are we? Pretty much split down the middle:
- Attendance – Barrett-Jackson
- Consignments – Mecum
- Cars Sold – Mecum
- Average Selling Price per Car – Barrett-Jackson
- Gross Sales – Barrett-Jackson
- Total Sales Increase % Over 2012 – Mecum
I guess this pretty much answers your questions. What a great Superbowl of Auctions, the only thing missing was the Clydesdale advertisements! Now that everything is perfectly clear, it all comes down to the type of car you want to either consign or buy with consideration given to quality, rarity, desirability, type, historical significance, provenance, documentation and the list goes on and on. Then factor in these important “Auction Superbowl” numbers and you should be able to make an easy informed decision! If that doesn’t work for you then you can always just decide if you’d rather spend the week in Arizona or Florida or you can always flip a coin (that’s the way it was decided who would purchase the $4.6 million Batmobile.) Probably as good a way as any to decide.
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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