Temps Chilly, but Mecum Was Hot, Hot, Hot !!!
Contributed by Tara Bush
Let’s be honest, we didn’t all move to Florida for the palm trees, beaches, pastels and Disney…we came here to escape the freezing, snowy, drizzly Northern conditions so we can partake in the year-round car cruising. But on Saturday January 23, the last day of the world’s largest collector car auction, I was reminded of why I left Ohio. The Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, just south of Orlando, hosts Mecum Auctions every year under normally pleasant conditions but the temps dipped into the 40’s and the winds whipped upwards of 25 mph. After donning on multiple layers of under-garments, coat, hat, gloves and a scarf, I was not deterred from viewing every car left on the show field.
Many of the high dollar muscle cars ran the previous day but were still on display inside a pleasantly comfortable temporary tent. The collection of Mopars outnumbered the Ford and Chevy products, plus took most of the money as well. The top spots were held by the 1 of 5 Lemon Twist 1970 Hemi 4 Speed Cuda Convertible for $2.6 million, the 1 of 5 Sno-White 1971 Hemi Automatic Cuda Convertible for $2.3 million, and the 1 of 4 Sublime Green 1970 Hemi Challenger R/T Convertible for a mere $1.6 million; you get the picture. Just to see some of the rarest muscle cars in existence was well worth the $30 admission.
After a few hours, my toes and fingertips were void of any feeling so it was time to stake out a special seat for watching the auction action. Apparently that is what everyone else was thinking because the seats were extremely limited. After 4 different perspectives, I settled on an oncoming view of the cars crossing the block. It was the farthest away from the giant door opening and was not blocked by viewers’ heads. There was no rhyme or reason as to the hammered-down price. Exotics, classics, muscle and rods all had their place in the spotlight, but from my perspective, it was all about the quality of the restoration that dictated the price. All the vehicles looked beautiful on the runway, but up close, well…that’s a different story altogether. My advice to anyone who wants to take a piece of the action home; get up close and personal with the cars you are interested in, listen to the engine and talk to the owners to get a sense of the car’s demeanor and history.
By mid afternoon the sun was shining brightly and it was time to venture back outside to see the “everyday people’s” cars. This was the time to make offers on the cars that did not sell which were still on display under the multiple tents erected on the show field. The choices were endless and I could go on and on…however there were two that I personally found intriguing. Here is a very rare 1969 Camaro Z28 in the most unusual color of Orchid which was an option on the 1965 Impalas, however this car was a GM special order car. As the story goes, the husband’s good friend owned a Chevy dealership and his wife wanted a purple Camaro but that was not a factory option, so the men conspired to special order the car in “Orchid”. Upon arrival, the wife was quite displeased. Her favorite color was deep purple, as in “Plum Crazy”, therefore she hated it. The car was immediately sold and still retains the unsavory color decades later.
Many of us drooled over the recent Facebook posts regarding the ultimate barn find; a 1969 Dodge Daytona, number matching 440 engine, automatic trans found under a lean-to in Alabama. This has always been my dream of finding such a rarity but after viewing it in person…well I think maybe not. What does one do, contribute an unfathomable amount of money to restore it to its former glory or leave it be as a testament to the harsh conditions of Mother Nature and display it as a natural piece of art. However, someone else will be making that decision. I am not sure what it is worth; but I always tell myself that it is only worth what someone will pay for it, so in this case, it is worth $90,000.
After seeing so many beautiful cars, the question at the end of the day was presented to me “if I had unlimited funds, what one car would I want?” It took me some time to conjure up an answer but I referred back to my younger days when I believed that the Holy Grail was a lime green 1971 Hemi Cuda…or maybe it was a Superbird…or possibly a L79 Chevy II Nova…a Buick GSX…a 69 Boss 429 Mustang…