Thousands attend 25th annual auto auction
Published: Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 16:02
The crowd thinned on the final day of the Mecum Auto Auction, but there was still plenty of excitement. Cars were lined up in every lot, tent and building in sight as more than 150 vehicles were pushed across the block on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The event began Jan. 24 as founder Dana Mecum kicked off his 25th year of auctions.
Every month the auction is held in different cities across the country. They can be viewed on television on the Velocity network, or at mecum.com.
This year is record breaking for Mecum Auctions — more than 2,000 cars will roll across the block.
Silver Spurs Arena in Osceola Heritage Park was converted into the most impressive parking garage car lovers could ever hope to see. Everything from a 1982 Chevy El Camino that sold for $5,000 to a 1953 Jaguar XK 120 roadster that sold for $120,000 was sorted by day across the auction grounds. The top seller for the day was a 1953 Buick Skylark convertible, which went for $95,000 yet paled in comparison to the top seller of the auction — a 1963 Shelby Cobra Dragonsnake that sold for an incredible $850,000 on Saturday.
The smell of barbecue was thick in the air as guests of every age worked their way through the rows of cars. Under tents, the smell of gasoline and oil was so heavy it was impossible to linger for too long.
Inside the arena, the real show took place. The shine of chrome and custom paint jobs was overwhelming, and neon signs and two large flat screens flanked the auction block.
Swarms of workers pushed the cars forward and monitored the bidders. The auctioneer's voice riddled off prices at an almost incomprehensible pace. Each auction lasted only minutes, but there was no stopping. One car rolled off the block while another was being pushed on. The voice never paused until the hammer came down and he took a breath to yell, "Sold!"
"It's really fun. You get to drive all the cars you could never afford," said Jim Smeltzer of Winter Springs.
This was his first year working an auction, and he wore a huge smile while he drove another classic toward the stage.
"It's like going to a family reunion once a month," said Steve Records, who has been working Mecum Auto Auctions for three years.
There seemed to be something for everyone at the auction. Not only were cars of all ages and price ranges auctioned off, but motorcycles, boats and various memorabilia as well.
One boat, a 1906 Taylor & Bates 24-foot Thames River Launch Canoe, sold for $25,000 on Sunday.
High school sweethearts Del and Susie Overholser have been married for 33 years and attended their first Mecum Auction in Kissimmee.
"We watch it at home and when we walked in, it was surreal," Susie said. "We don't just recognize the people working — we recognize the customers, too."
The couple from Elk River, Minn., recently sold their business and is spending more time collecting cars.
"They're better than CDs," Susie joked.
They certainly didn't leave empty-handed. On Thursday they picked up a 1929 Ford Model 8 Roadster. Friday, a 1978 Morgan and 2003 Mercedes SL500 — the "impulse buy" — caught their eyes. The two finished their buying streak with a 1960 tasco turquoise Corvette on Saturday.
"We have two other cars, so this just goes into our collection," Del said.
Information on past and future auctions can be found on mecum.com, along with a full list of every car sold in Kissimmee. The next stop for Mecum is Kansas City, Mo., where 750 vehicles are scheduled to be sold March 29-31.