If you live in Arizona and are a fan of hot rods and classic cars and trucks, you’ve likely seen car auctions on TV or attended auctions put on by Mecum Auctions, MAG Auctions or Barrett-Jackson. Although I had been to several car auctions in the past few years, I had never sold a car in an auction. That all changed this Spring when I listed my car for sale at the 2022 Mecum Spring Auction.
This story starts back on February 1st and ends on March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day when I sold my 1966 Corvette convertible in the Mecum Auction held at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. On February 1st I sent an application to have my 1966 Corvette entered in Mecum’s Spring Auction along with a check by overnight UPS Delivery. After not getting any response to my application for a few days, I called Mecum and then had a series of phone calls that resulted in several forms being sent by e-mail to get my car listed and approved for auction.
These forms included a power of attorney form, a 5-page listing contract, a request for auction position and a consignment form. Also requested were a copy of Arizona Driver’s License and the actual copy of my car title. All of these forms were filled out over a few days and sent into Mecum by UPS Overnight Service. I was then informed that my car would be given a later afternoon position on Thursday, the second day of the auction with auction number T238.
One of the options Mecum gives consigners is having your car professionally photographed for your auction catalog and online listings. Instead of the usual 5 or 6 photos you see in most auction listings, you get 20 or more photos that are of top quality and free of shadows and other distractions. I had this done for my car and was glad I did. The photographer was top notch and I have no doubt the photos helped make my car stand out in the auction listings.
By about two plus weeks out before the auction, all forms and paperwork had been completed and I had nothing more to do than detail my car and write up an information sheet to be posted on my car.
Finally, the first day of the Mecum Auction arrives and my wife follows my Corvette in her SUV to the parking lot for entries to the auction. There are several people there to greet me and withing a few minutes of arriving the ignition and glove box keys are zip tied to the steering column of my car and I am asked to check the windshield display card for any errors or missing information. I then hand my Corvette over to the Mecum staff who drive my car off to a display tent for auction vehicles.
My wife and I are then given a ride over to the sign in tent where we receive our consigner and guest badges for entry into the auction. It’s only a short walk from the sign in tent to the stadium, and we find ourselves some nice seats at a table about 7 or 8 rows back from the auction stage. Although it’s barely past 9:00 AM, there is an auction of all sorts of vintage neon signs underway. Many are several feet tall or wide and obviously designed for commercial use.
One of the things we quickly notice is that some of these signs are selling for nice four and even five figure bids. And most appear to be restored or in good useable condition. One of the nice benefits of being a consigner or bidder at the auction is having the auction catalog right there where you can see which item or vehicle is next up for auction.
We eventually walk out of the Stadium and find the tent area where our Corvette is parked near a black C2 Convertible to be auctioned the same day as ours. Since it’s a little breezy I decide to raise the convertible top to keep the car interior free of dust. I also give our car a quick once over with a duster to keep it looking clean. And since we can see the auction live on our computer at home, we decide to call it a day and head home.
The next day – St. Patrick’s Day – dawns with a nice sunny morning that people back on the east coast wish they had. We drive over to State Farm Stadium and after parking our SUV we go over to check on the Corvette and give it another quick cleaning before going inside the building. It’s obvious as we enter the bidder’s area that there are more people here than the day before. And we also get to enjoy a free Bloody Mary drink courtesy of Mecum Auctions to start off the day.
The auction starts off this morning with fewer neon and advertising signs being auctioned off and generally nicer cars and trucks going over the auction block as well. Since our car won’t be auctioned off until at least mid-afternoon, we decide to sit back and enjoy the auctions, have a nice lunch and wait until our car is driven up to the staging line of cars and trucks slowly entering the area to be auctioned.
About 90 minutes before my Corvette is to be auctioned off, I am informed it’s now in the staging line outside the stadium and soon will be in the smaller line just in back of the stage. This where it all becomes quite real that your car will soon be sold for a price you hope to get. Literally two or three people are looking at my car and asking questions about it. Some want to look under the hood, a couple want me to start the engine so they can hear the chambered exhaust system. Others want to know if everything works. A few even want to sit behind the steering wheel. All the while, I am wiping down my car to keep it extra clean.
Meanwhile, all the time the Corvette is inching up in the staging line for its time to be on stage. The entry that is in front of me is a 1934 Ford Limousine that is one of the “stars” of the Thursday auction. It must be at least 30 feet long and takes up the space of two ordinary vehicles. It takes a couple extra minutes to turn the corner onto the auction block. During this time, I hear from two bidders that say they will bid on my car. And I also turn the driving over to Ken, who is a local that lives near me.
At this time, I get out on the edge of the auction block with the Bidding Assistant who discusses if I will keep the reserve price on my car. While this is happening the Ford Limo’s bidding stalls at $90,000 and leaves the auction block.
Now it’s my turn to have the Corvette on the block, with bidding starting at $20,000 and rapidly going up to $50,000 where it stalls until a bid for $60,000 comes up. At this point the bidding stalls again, and the bidding assistant tells me he can get the bid over My $65,000 reserve price. The higher bid is made, and I now have sold my car in less than 5 minutes!
At this point I am emotionally drained and happy to shake the bidding assistant’s hand thanking him for his help. I walk off the stage seeing a “sold” sticker going on my Corvette’s windshield and seeing the red brake lights going away for the last time in nearly 14 years of ownership.