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Mecum Car Auctions for Cheap Collector Cars

The beginning of 2012 launched an exciting year of collector car auctions in celebration of Mecum’s 25th anniversary.  Mecum has a long-established history of hosting some of the best collector car auctions across the country.  Every year they hold 10-20 auctions.  While there are always headline cars which can easily sell for more than 1 million dollars, there are also a lot of great deals for savvy auction hunters.  Taking advantage of Mecum car auctions for cheap collector cars is equal parts preparation, good strategy, and avoiding costly mistakes.

4 Costly Mistakes to Avoid at Mecum Collector Car Auctions

1. Don’t Focus Solely on Pristine Cars

One of the costliest mistakes to make is focusing solely on pristine collector cars.  It is much more effective to focus on buying the best collector car you can afford.  This is an extremely common mistake, which you can use to land a great deal on a cheap collector car.  The more people who focus on pristine-only options, the less competition you will have bidding against you.  There are a growing number of blue-chip cars which consistently hold their value and are safe bets.  When focusing on cars outside of pristine condition, make sure all of the numbers are matching and that every major mechanical component is accounted for.

2. Always Know the Terms and Conditions of the Sale

There are a variety of details you should always make note of when bidding at Mecum car auctions.  This includes everything from the buyer’s premium and applicable taxes to how you will be transporting the car home.  All of these factors should be considered part of your total cost.  Ignoring these factors could lead you to spending much more than you expected.

3. Don’t Get Pulled in by the Afterglow Effect

The afterglow is essentially a time period where bidding is hotter than normal following a headline collector car sale.  Only one person can be the highest bidder on a headline collector car.  As a result, many of the bidders who did not win tend to overbid on the next few cars they are interested in because they feel like they “missed out” on their primary target.  Avoid getting falling victim to the afterglow effect.  Always evaluate each car independently.

4. Expecting the Collector Car Market to Provide Fixed Values

If you are new to the collector car market, then your first instinct is likely to look at the average value of any car you are interested in.  The problem with is that the collector car market is highly fluid.  When attending Mecum car auctions for cheap collector cars, the average market value should only be treated as a starting point.  The final price at an auction is based upon how much the highest bidder is willing to pay – not the average market value.  Bidders are willing to spend more or less than the average market value based upon a variety of factors including condition, documentation, and desirability.  The best way to get a good idea of how much a collector car will go for is by looking at previous auctions.  Historical data is much more telling than the average market price.

5.  Forgetting About Demand

A common mistake made by newer collector car buyers at Mecum auctions is assuming that a low supply necessarily means higher prices.  It is important to not forget about demand.  Targeting low supply, low demand models is a great way to find cheap collector cars.

2 Examples of Low Supply, Low Demand Collector Cars

The best way to bring home a cheap collector car from a Mecum auction is by targeting low supply, low demand models.  This gives buyers a chance to own cars which are hard to find without breaking the bank.

1975 Chevrolet Vega

Chevy produce more than 2 million Vegas, however there were only a few thousand Cosworth editions.  This makes the Vega Cosworth a rare car, but there has never been a huge demand for it across the collector car market.  Across every production year, only 3,500 Cosworth Vegas were created.  Every motor was hand built and is considered to be an extremely well-balanced engine.  In fact, it made the “Car and Driver Top 10 Best Collectable Cars” list.  With the low demand, new collector car buyers could steal one at a Mecum auction for around $10,000.

1965-66 Chevrolet Corvair

This car is an excellent introduction to collector cars for people who don’t want their first car to be a significant investment.  It looks great and can often be found with the original chrome.  Savvy bidders could bring it home for $6,000 or less at most Mecum auctions.  For a bit of an upgrade, the 1966 Chevrolet Corvair is considered to be a true classic car, but can still be found for around $10,000.

Restoration – The Easiest Way to Take Advantage of Mecum Car Auctions for Cheap Collector Cars

To really bring home the cheapest collector cars from a Mecum car auction, restoration is the way to go.  If you are willing to restore a collector car yourself, you can save a lot of money at auctions because most people will only be bidding on pristine cars.

To really save money, you must not only take care of the restoration but also target collector cars which have a huge parts supply.  The more accessible the parts are, the cheaper the parts will be.  This is particularly true for body panels and exterior trim.  Some fantastic collector cars which still have a high availability of parts include:

Buick Riviera (1963-65)

Pontiac GTO (1971-72)

For Model A (1928-31)

Packard (1951-54)

Studebaker Golden Hawk (1956-58)

Chevy Nova (1968-70)

Mecum Auctions Also Provide Great Deal Opportunities on Traditionally Expensive Collector Cars

In 2012 alone, Mecum auctions have had its fair share of “upsets” where extremely rare, collectable cars sold for well below previous selling prices.  If you are getting into collector cars and want to make a significant initial investment, while still getting a great deal, here are a few examples from previous Mecum auctions that should wet your appetite.

1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Trans Am Race Car

This car is school bus yellow with a black stripe and had a 3+ condition.  This car was a real race car, driven by Peter Gregg with five podium finishes in 1971.  Since then, it had been restored twice.  It sold for $343,200 in 2003 and $407,000 in 2009.  At the 2012 Mecum Monterey auction, it went unsold with a hammer bid of $300,000.

1955 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster

This car has an older restoration and a 2 condition.  It sold for $98,000 and was an excellent value to winning bidder.  This car will always have a place in Corvette history because it was the final year of the original roadster body, but was also the first year with the V-8 engine.  Plus, only 700 were built.

1965 Shelby Replica Daytona Coupe

The winning bidder got a great price on this car.  It was recently sold in 2006 and 2007 for $61,000 and $66,000.  The winning bidder at the 2012 Mecum Kissimmee auction only paid $52,000.

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