Buying or selling that special Corvette can be a daunting task. Multimillion-dollar cars like the original Grand Sport are rarely sold publicly. Instead, top collectors usually negotiate the buying and selling of these cars privately. While only a small percentage of Corvettes are worth millions, even the most common models consistently bring good money in the market. The challenge is selecting the correct place for these transactions.
You have many options to choose from, including the Internet, private owners, car dealers, and auto auctions. In the past, auctions were only available to authorized dealers, but this has changed thanks to organizations such as Mecum Auctions. Public auctions allow you to buy or sell a Corvette in person or over the Web. These events provide sellers with an opportunity to showcase their cars to potential buyers in a professional and largely worry-free environment.
Mecum accepts reserve pricing from sellers—critically important if you have a minimum selling price in mind. Many other auctions have a no-reserve policy, so no matter how high (or low) the maximum bid is, the car is sold.
On the other side of the sale, prospective buyers are given a chance to inspect all of the cars up close before submitting a bid. Each one has a sticker affixed to it showing its lot number, specifications, and the day and time it will be auctioned.
All participants must register and be pre-qualified prior to the event. This process confirms each car's ownership as well as every potential buyer's ability to pay for a winning bid. The auction company makes its money on registration fees and from commissions charged to the buyers and/or sellers.
Mecum is holding 10 events in 2011, six of which will be broadcast live on Discovery HD. We attended the first one of the year, held at the Osceola Heritage Park complex in Kissimmee, Florida. It ran for five consecutive days, and gross sales (excluding buyers' premiums) totaled $39.9 million. Mecum's unique "The Bid Goes On" feature allows buyers and sellers to continue negotiating prices of cars that didn't sell initially. Many additional sales result from this unique method, which will undoubtedly push revenue well past the $40 million mark once all is said and done.
Of the nearly 1,500 cars auctioned, 229 were Corvettes, representing approximately 15 percent of the Kissimmee inventory. An '89 convertible received the lowest Corvette selling price at $6,000, while the priciest sale was for a '55 V-8 car from the Bob McDorman collection, at $170,000.
Five large tents covered all the cars, which were arranged according to the day they were to be auctioned. This made it easy for bidders to locate and inspect any cars on which they might have been interested in bidding. Third-generation ('68-'82) Corvettes were most numerous, with 85 cars for sale. The sixth generation ('05-'11) had the smallest number, at 10.
As for sale prices, a total of 21 first-generation Corvettes ('53-'62) sold for sums ranging from $52,000 to $170,000. Thirty-five second-generation Corvettes ('63-'67) sold, at prices from $30,500 to $145,000. Fifty third-generation Corvettes sold, at prices from $7,000 to $165,000. Twenty-seven fourth-generation Corvettes ('84-'96) sold, at prices from $6,500 to $35,000. Eleven fifth-generation Corvettes ('97-'04) sold, at prices from $14,750 to $80,000. (The $80,000 bid was for a '99 Fixed Roof Coupe converted by Classic Reflections to resemble a '62 model.) Of the 10 sixth-generation Vettes offered, nine sold. The lowest price was $28,000 for an '07 coupe, while the highest—$86,000—resulted from the court-ordered sale of a Cyber Gray '10 ZR1. A '63 Shelby Cobra Dragon Snake racer was the event's top-selling car, at $875,000.
As for which Corvettes brought the best money in Kissimmee, numbers-matching, highly optioned first- and second-generation editions were the winners. Unique restomod Vettes also brought good prices. Third- and fourth-generation daily drivers attracted the least money, while sixth-gen Z06s seemed to be holding their value.
Throughout the weekend, the Mecum crew was friendly and professional. The cars rolled through the block on time, and buyers were able to get a good view of all the proceedings. If you have a special Corvette to sell, or just want to see some spectacular examples of America's Sports Car, check out one of the upcoming Mecum Auctions events.