I’m a bit old to be in grammar school, but last Thursday when I visited the Las Vegas MECUM Auction at the Las Vegas Convention Center, I felt very much like a 12-year-old. I was looking at beautiful old cars and had no idea of the “deal” regarding those cars. To the rescue came a nine-year MECUM veteran, Display Manager Sherman Knight. (I told him how popular his last name was in Vegas these days.) Sherman gave me the newcomer’s rundown.
Sherman explained that the cars on display (some 1000 of them) would, over three days, be auctioned with the high-dollar cars auctioned on the last day, Saturday. He also explained that the cars parked on carpet were generally more valuable than the cars parked on the concrete. (Knight was in charge of the carpet cars.) If a guest did not have a bidder’s badge, that guest was restricted in terms of access to cars. If a guest had a bidder’s badge (a guest pays to be a bidder), then, upon request of the guest, Knight would pop the hood (see I learned a car-guy expression) or even start the car for the guest.
Car owners who bring a car to the show pay an entry fee for their car (or cars) and they pay a little extra if they put a reserve, a must-have minimum bid, on the car. Then if the car is sold, the owner pays MECUM 10 percent of the sale price and the buyer pays 10 percent as well. With all those fees, why doesn’t a car owner just put an ad in the paper to sell the car?
Because, says Sherman, a collector of that model of car may or may not see the ad, but at these shows, folks interested in classic cars come from all over the world and may even bid up the price on a particular car. MECUM provides financing for car purchases as well as shipping services. Car bidding can be done online as well as in person, but Sherman says by far more cars are sold by in-person bidders than on-line.
Later Sherman introduced me to a couple, Claudia and Jim Martinson, from Wyoming who had brought four cars to the auction. The hope was that the cars would fetch good prices, even without reserve prices on the cars. Jim also had purchased a bidder’s badge…just in case he saw a car brought by another collector he couldn’t resist.
As the attached video explained, this Las Vegas MECUM Auction was also the debut of Guitar Search, a division of the auction focusing on the sale of rare and signed guitars. Mike Domino and Dawn Walker explained that they also hope to educate younger generations about the value of collecting guitars and knowing names like the 1963 Fender Telecaster, the 1959 Les Paul Standard and the 1983 Paul Reed Smith. The guitars on hand had reserve prices and were scheduled to be auctioned in between the car auctions on Saturday.