Gone in 60 Seconds is the fitting title of 1974’s classic car-heist movie (and the remake in 2000), but it also best describes the pace of sales at Mecum Auctions’ annual event going on right now in Kissimmee, Fla. Robb Report spent a day watching just a few of the record 4,137 lots crossing the block at the world’s biggest collector car-auction, one that ends its 12-day run on January 15, and we came away exhilarated and exhausted.
We also trekked many of the 200 acres of the Osceola Heritage Park that’s home to the auction, ducking in and out of the almost one million square feet of tenting that houses the endless variety of cars, trucks, motorcycles, tractors, boats and memorabilia.
“We have cars here that will sell for less than $5,000, others for many millions. There is truly something for every collector,” says Mecum TV commentator John Kramer. “This is the biggest collector-car auction the world has ever seen, and a true bellwether of the market for the coming year.”
With this edition featuring more than 30 high-profile private collections—the astonishing 49-car field from Rick Grant III’s Estate Collection is the headliner—the quality and quantity of automobiles has never been higher. Kramer predicts total sales will exceed last year’s record $217 million tally, despite rising interest rates and inflation concerns. Of the myriad model examples to choose from in Kissimmee, here are the 10 cars—listed in ascending value—we would love to call or own.
1986 Pulse Autocycle
Think of it as a fighter jet for the road. This needle-nosed, banana-yellow Pulse Autocycle was the creation of Jim Bede and built by Michigan-based Owosso Motor Car Company. The1986 example offered through Mecum was number 177 of 350 produced and features a 400 cc Yamaha motorbike engine coupled to a six-speed manual transmission.
Weighing around 1,000 pounds, and with a sliding canopy, tandem seating and an aircraft-style yoke for a steering wheel, it has to be a blast to drive. And we’re not the only ones to think so. It sold last Friday for $38,500.
1955 Chevrolet Nomad Custom Wagon
In the world of restomods, this stunning 1955 Chevy Nomad Custom Wagon is a standout. One of the headliners at the 2013 Detroit Autorama hot-rod show, this classic wagon goes by the name of “Triple Nickel” and showcases the true art of customizing.
From its Dodge Viper–blue paint to its Pat Musi–built 555 (hence “triple nickel”) cubic-inch big-block V-8 to its custom leather interior, this restomod is a real jewel. Scheduled to be auctioned this Friday, it carries a high-end estimate of $275,000.
2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible
Gaze at the odometer of this 755 hp Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 convertible and it reads just 645 miles. That’s a mere 215 miles per year since new. It’s part of the 19-car Delivery-Mile Collection owned by Mark Ziemer that’s being sold by Mecum.
The big-winged ZR1, with an estimated value of $300,000 to $325,000, comes with all the right bells and whistles, like the 3ZR and ZTK Track Performance packages, plus that thundering 6.2-liter supercharged V-8. When the car is auctioned on Friday, the new buyer will face the dreaded dilemma—to drive or not to drive?
1970 Plymouth Superbird
One of a flock of high-winged, “meep-meeping” Plymouth Road-Runner Superbirds being offered through Mecum, this 1970 example in iconic Petty Blue was our favorite. Of course, it helped that NASCAR legend “King” Richard Petty himself signed the car’s rear wing.
This vehicle was part of the well-known Gary Edwards Wing Car & Mopar Collection and features a 440 cubic-inch six-barrel V-8 mated to a four-speed manual transmission. Whether bidding for this ‘bird reaches its high-end estimate of $440,000 will be found out on Friday.
1970 De Tomaso Mangusta
As celebrity-owned cars go, this has to be one of the coolest. Fresh out of a multi-year restoration by the star of “Chasing Classic Cars” himself, Wayne Carini, this 1970 De Tomaso Mangusta supercar is the property of David Robinson, drummer for former supergroup The Cars.
Robinson reportedly bought the mid-engined Italian stallion in 1994 and no doubt spent a fortune on the meticulous rebuild by Carini’s F40 Restorations. Now with just 35,057 miles on the clock, it’s better than new. And the value is certainly higher, considering it left the factory priced at around $11,000 for the US market when in production. The sale this Saturday, though, may see it fetch up to an estimated $475,000.
1967 Maserati 3500 GTI Vignale Spyder
Worthy of winning our own, unofficial, “Prettiest Car at Mecum” award is this absolutely stunning 1967 Maserati 3500 Vignale Spyder. Oozing with 1960s “La Dolce Vita” style—picture the era’s screen siren Gina Lollobrigida at the wheel—it was one of just two prototype Maserati 3500 Spyders built by Turin coachbuilder Carrozzeria Vignale.
Part of the Rick Grant III Collection since 1976, it’s powered by a Maserati 3.5-liter twin-cam inline-six engine and was fully restored in 2005. This past Friday, it sold for $550,000.
1955 Chrysler Ghia ST Special
This spectacular, seemingly mile-long two-door coupe was the last design to come out of the partnership between legendary Chrysler stylist Virgil Exner and the Ghia studio in Italy. One of only four examples built, it was exhibited, to great fanfare, at the 1955 Turin car show.
Meticulously restored in 2014, it still features its original two-tone copper-and-ivory paint scheme, matching Havana-and-ivory-leather interior and massive white walls. With an estimated value ranging from $500,000 to $600,000, this Chrysler Ghia ST Special will cross the block on Saturday.
1965 Shelby 289 Cobra
Just whispering the word “Cobra” will likely send shudders down the spine of any passionate car collector. And this 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra from the fabled Rick Grant III Estate Collection is one of the nicest, most unmolested ones you’ll find.
With a “nut ‘n bolt” restoration and painted in molten red with lovely chrome knock-off wire wheels, this Cobra is the open-top sports car for purists, especially with a high-performance, Shelby-tuned 289 cubic-inch Ford V-8 under the hood. As testament to the collectability of these cars, it sold slightly below estimate and still garnered $907,500.
1969 Dodge Hemi Daytona
Nothing screams “Days of Thunder,” that favorite Tom Cruise film of ours, like this jaw-dropping 1969 Dodge Hemi Daytona race car once piloted by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison. Back in ’69, Allison ran this example, No. 22, in excess of 200 mph for four laps at Daytona—a milestone at the time.
Left in a barn to rot, it was eventually discovered in the 2000s and fully restored in its correct red-and-gold Coca-Cola livery. Ready for its close-up, the car will take the auction stage on Saturday with an estimated value of $900,000 to $1.1 million.
1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
No dream-car collection can be complete without a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. And this 1958 300 SL Roadster, in a salivating shade of Medium Blue Metallic, is without a doubt one of the finest, and most desirable. Adding to its considerable appeal is the bare-metal restoration completed at huge expense by marque specialist Don Mertz out in Sun Valley, Calif.
One of just 324 examples of the 300 SL Roadster built in 1958, this is all buttery blue leather, requisite white steering wheel and purring 2,996 cc inline-six. Understandably, it could fetch as much as $2.1 million when it crosses the block on Friday.