Auctions are raw economics on display: For every buyer, there’s a seller, and vice versa–like Tucker Sheard, attending this weekend’s Mecum Auto Auction at ReliantCenter. He’s picking up his tenth classic car–a rare Mercury Coupe.
Thomas Provost rebuilds classic cars.
He’s on hand to sell a rare, custom Chevrolet.
Sheard was beaming about his purchase, even in the brilliant sunshine:
“This is a 1957 Turnpike Cruiser,” he proudly showed me in the Reliant parking lot, awaiting a flat-bed transport truck to carry the car back to Sheard’s garage in Hempstead.
“They only made 1,260 of them; it’s got 86-thousand original miles on it.”
That’s Sheard’s hot-button.
“This is a rare car; that’s why I bought it.”
And it’s a jewel.
New paint—“Probably $10,000 worth of paint,” Sheard observes.
“It’s got the 368-cubic inch motor in it; all electric…” he goes on, until he’s interrupted.
“What did you pay for it?” a curious yokel hollers.
“Enough,” Sheard responds, and then says to me, “I can’t believe people can be so rude.”
Houston is becoming a mecca for automotive activity–especially this weekend.
The Mecum Auto Auction is returning this year…30-percent larger, because as Mecum’s Marketing Maven, Meghan Gaines, says, “Houston is a great car town.”
The auction has grown substantially from last year.
“We had 650-vehicles last year, this year, we were expecting 750, and we’ve actually grown to over one-thousand,” says Gaines.
And the coolest car on the auction block?
“I think one of the coolest vehicles we have is Carroll Shelby’s personal driver, a 2008 Mustang,” says Gaines.
“I think that’s really cool that we have the opportunity to get that vehicle across the block.”
Shelby was known to keep one model of every car he built over the years.
Marketing Director, Sam Murtagh, chimes in: “It’s got Shelby’s DNA on it, being a Shelby, itself, so it’s a little bit special, more different than the average Shelby you can get out of the Dealer showroom.”
The place is abuzz, with classic Cadillac’s and Packard’s from the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, and muscle cars and exotics. Even though the economy has been tough for some sectors over the past few years, the auto auction business hasn’t appeared to suffer much.
Gaines says, “The economy hasn’t really seemed to effect us too substantially; we are continuing to sell vehicles because it’s such a niche market.”
“There’s people out there wanting to buy, and people wanting to sell, and we’re just bringing them all together, says Gaines.
On the left side of the auction block is the staging area where the cars for sale are being lined up for display.
Provost is there with his rare beauty:
“A ’59 Chevrolet Biscayne,” he shows me proudly.
“It’s customized–got air bags, front and back; it’s a mostly original car, original mileage, with about two years’ restoration.”
Provost produces about eight cars a year from his garage in Atlanta. He’s here to sell, and not sure what the car will bring.
“That’s just one of those things, so I don’t know,” he says in a soft, southern drawl. “I’m used to Camaro’s and Mustang’s.”
As for the price he anticipates, “I know one thing–it’s unique. There’s only one like that, so we’ll just have to see…” his voice trails, and a distant auctioneer covers his words.
He thinks the car will sell for around $100,000.
Murtaugh is confident this year’s auction will beat last year’s revenues handily.
“You know, we kind of consider ourselves to be the Everyman’s Auction,” says Murtaugh. “For the guy that’s looking for that one car, starting out, and wants to get into the hobby, we’ve got something for you.”
He looks around the vast room, and continues: “…and if you’re that collector that’s really in it, we’ve got stuff for you, too.”
“I think last year was somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-million, maybe,” Murtaugh says.
“We hope to blow that out of the water this year.”
And as long as there are sellers and buyers, like Provost and Sheard, they will.