Overall Mecum’s first trip to Seattle was met with an over flow of enthusiastic bidders and collectors. Mecum obviously worked overtime to offer their customers a varied assortment of excellent collector cars. When the curtain came down Mecum had to be pleased with their initial foray into the Pacific Northwest setting a world’s record for a muscle car when a 1971 Plymouth Hemi Cuda was hammered for $3.5M. It was obviously a muscle car market since it definitely was not a Corvette market.
Mecum put together a dynamite docket of outstanding investment level Corvettes for their introductory event in the Northwest and though there was strong bidding for a some of the Corvettes, the majority of bids did not meet the consignor’s reserves and 65% of all Corvettes offered over the two day event went unsold and none of the four featured Corvettes sold.
Another indication of disappointing results for Corvettes was the fact only one Corvette was able to make the top-ten list, a 1958 restomod. That is almost unheard of for the world’s largest Corvette seller who typically has almost half of the top ten occupied by America’s sports car.
Though it may be a new city for Mecum, in regards to the sales to their feature Corvettes it’s the same old “failed to meet reserve” story that has continued to plague Mecum’s events in Kissimmee, Houston and Indianapolis this year. Based on these results it is not surprising that Mecum recently announced that they were cancelling their traditional all-Corvette Bloomington Gold Auction.
With only a 35% sell thru few auction houses are able to pay the bills, thankfully the sell thru for the rest of the lots was much better than the Corvette sales. As an example of the 34 Corvettes offered for sale on Saturday only 11 sold and Friday wasn’t much better selling only 7 of the 17 offered. That is not to infer that Mecum is not selling Corvettes, they still sell more collector Corvettes than anyone in the world but recently many of those are entry and mid level cars while their condition 2+ and up investment grade Corvettes often go unsold. In some cases the disappointing sales are the result of over optimistic valuations Corvette owners are placing on their cars. But eventually serious collectors will not continue to waste their time in hope of finding a Corvette at a realistic price.
Certainly a 35% sell thru indicates a problem and in some cases it is the result of Corvette owners expecting to get the same type of appreciation in value that has been the case in the last couple years. The Corvette market has changed from 2012 and 2013. Corvettes are no longer appreciating in value to the tune of 10 to 20% a year. The market has leveled off on most Corvettes and only the rarest Corvettes are still showing signs of above average appreciation in value, and by that I mean 5 to 10%. The rest of the market is currently -5% to +5%. If sellers are serious about selling they have to come to grips with this fact. This can be seen in the four heavily promoted headline Corvette lots that crossed the block in Seattle.
One of the two main attractions for Seattle was a beautiful 1967 L88 coupe (Lot S113). It was poised to set a new world’s record price and based on the bid it would have if the consignor had not put a reserve of over $4M on the car. It was bid to a healthy $3.7M ($3.996M with the buyer’s premium) which would have set a new world’s record price for a Corvette at auction. The bid was $200K (+6%) above the current record holder which was set earlier this year. Apparently though it wasn’t enough, the consignor wanted over $4M to $4.2M, more than 15% more than the current world’s record holder set earlier this year hammered at $3.5M. The Seattle L88 Corvette being sold was exquisite but on the same level as the current record holder. Understand that if there is a Corvette that defies the -5% to +5% valuation change it would be a 1967 L88 so the bid price of +6% was a solid bid. In our article we prophetically said, “It will be exciting to watch what the latest 1967 L88 brings in the untested Seattle market as long as the consignor has not set an unrealistic reserve price on the car, which we have seen far too often recently.”
It was a different story for the Fathom Green 1969 L88 which was bid to $400K and went unsold. In this case though we do not know where the reserve on the Corvette was set but based on recent trends the $400K bid was below where most recent L88’s have been hammered sold. So unlike the 1967 L88 which was realistically bid, we thought this 94 point L88 would hammer for close to $600K and went on to say “aside from a few very minor flaws the only other issue which may hold this L88 back may be the color.” Another 1969 Fathom Green L88, was bid to $430K last year at Mecums. So in this case the third generation L88’s have recently demonstrated that their values have now leveled off like most other Corvettes. It appears the $400K to $650K range for third generation L88’s is right for all but concours level survivors which should bring $650K+ this year.
The third Corvette headliner was Mickey Thompson’s personal 1963 Z06 which was bid to $520K and like the others failed to meet the reserve. Again we don’t know where the consignor set the reserve but based on the provenance of this car the bidding seemed a bit thin. Second generation Z06’s without a documented historic provenance and famous owner are bringing bids in the $500K neighborhood, so we expected more from this one. Especially since the bid was only $45K more than it sold for almost two years ago in Monterey.
The fourth headliner which also failed to sell was the last first generation Corvette produced, a Black 4 speed 1962 two owner car that received a frame off restoration in 1995-6, Lot S193. It was bid to a disappointing $150K and considering the fact that it is the last of the first generation cars, less than the cost of a premium body off restoration and in the most desired color, black.
Mecum is already vowing to return to Seattle next year and based on the results of other collector cars who can blame them. A standing room only crowd was bidding for muscle cars, hot rods and exotics but apparently based on the results the Corvette collectors were either at Le Mans cheering the Corvette Racing Team or watching it on TV.
Rick Tavel writes about automobiles with an emphasis on Corvettes and the hobby in general. You can see his website at Corvetted
Blue Chip 1967 L88 Corvette to be Featured at Mecum’s Inaugural Seattle Auction
Mecum to Offer a Fathom Green 1969 L88 Corvette Coupe at its Seattle Auction
Mickey Thompson’s 1963 Corvette Z06 Up for Grabs at Mecum’s Seattle Auction
The Last C1 Corvette to be Auctioned at Mecum Seattle