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2013 Mecum Auction in Schaumburg

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Mecum Auctions Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

2013 Mecum Auction in Schaumburg

Bill Crittenden
October 12, 2013

This year's Chicago-area Mecum Auction was an entirely new experience from last time, being moved from the quiet country of St. Charles' Pheasant Run to the Schaumburg Convention Center across the street from Motorola's world headquarters and just north of Woodfield Mall, 10th largest in the United States for retail square footage.

It was an entirely new experience for the auction itself, in a much larger convention hall that allowed for a huge display of Saturday's best cars, which this year included an Eleanor from the 2000 Gone in 60 Seconds and four Hemi Under Glass cars complete with autograph sessions with Bob Riggle and Linda Vaughn.

Of course, I have to play up how awesome it was that the auction was in Schaumburg, as that was where I grew up. I got to spend the night in the room I lived in as a teenager and when I saw the $5 hot dogs at the concession stand I just went to the Wendy's two blocks away, which I knew about because it was the same one I ate at in my few semesters of community college. So I hope Schaumburg becomes a regular stop on the Mecum tour.

A Mecum Auction is, as best as I can describe it, one of the best car shows I've ever been to, and if you have enough money you can take almost any one of the cars home with you. I say "almost" because the show begins before you even get to the Convention Center. Classic cars, Corvettes, and a really loud 2000's GTO were out on Meacham Road before I pulled into a parking lot that in places alternated between big SUVs with trailer hitches and more high-end enthusiast cars. These were, of course, people who love cars, some of whom were looking to haul a prize home. I assume that the Tauruses and Camrys were employees and regular visitors staying at the hotel. Over a dozen states were represented on the license plates, and a few folks skipping the auction process had "For Sale" signs in the windows of their classics.

That's just a little appetizer, and after getting closer to the Convention Center you can start to see cars under the auction tents through the fence. Anticipation grows, but first things first: you have to check in or buy a ticket and take a trip through the main hall.

97, 200 square feet of awesome greet you walking through the doors. As I mentioned, Saturday's best cars are on display here, as are what seems like a mile of lit neon on the walls, enough classic gas pumps to start a chain of 1950's service stations, and the red carpet auction block. On display next to the auctioneer's stand was Harley Earl's personal custom 1963 Corvette. Describing that alone is an entire article's worth. (speaking of worth, it just crossed the block selling for $1.5M)

Of course, as big as the Convention Center main hall is it won't hold 1,000 cars with room to move around between them and the stage to auction them off. So outside, most under big tents, are the rest of the cars. Organized by sale day & lot number for ease of finding & rolling the cars onto the block, it's not at all like a major show ordered by class of car, so it does require a lot of walking if you want to, say, see all of the Corvettes, so be prepared for that.

The auction really does cater to almost all tastes in cars. I saw my first Noble in person, a restored 1928 Pontiac (third year for the marque), a lot of prewar Fords, tons of muscle cars & Corvettes of all kinds, a 1936 Chamberlain (a marque I'd never even heard of), and several of those strange 80's faux classics. There was a custom Ford that just had everyone scratching their heads trying to figure out why they hadn't seen a Ford like that before, at least until they started reading the tag. There was even one of those 2003 Corvettes rebodied to look like an out-of-proportion 1953 Corvette for the 50th Anniversary.

Europe was well represented, with a lot of Mercedes, Rolls Royce, Porsche, and Ferrari, and classic British sports cars including the first MG TD I've seen in person that wasn't a knock-off. There was a token Mitsubishi 3000GT VR-4, so Japan wasn't too well represented here, and South Korea was absent, but I think that'll change eventually.

Also missing from my tour was a lowrider, but there were plenty of customs from the mild to the outrageous, and a lot of nice old cars that would make great lowriders in the right hands, so I'll call them "lowriders that haven't been built yet."

Straight-line American muscle was of course the favorite flavor of car there, with the Hemi Under Glass cars, drag-prepped Pontiacs, a Ron Capps funny car, and tons of classic Mopar muscle, but there were some other notables: a 1983 March-Cosworth Indy Car driven by Mike Mosley the year before he died, NASCAR pace cars including Pontiac Trans Ams that paced the Daytona 500, and a replica Shelby Daytona Coupe.

Thursday specials included a lot of 70's luxury boats, and when out taking pictures I met a couple of guys from the city that were absolutely ecstatic about their huge Lincoln Continental. I have trouble maneuvering my little Pontiac Vibe in downtown traffic, but they're used to it. They told me about how those cars were status symbols when they were growing up and those cars were new, and of how excited they were to have a bit of that past back.

A few rows down I met another couple guys checking out their purchase, a white 1989 Ford Mustang convertible. I was just telling my wife last week about how badly I'd wanted one growing up, and how I'd seen one on my way home, how rare it was to see a stock one in good shape that wasn't completely messed with. I really, really wished I had $5,500 in my pocket but something told me from their voices that they wouldn't have stopped at five.

There were even custom motorcycles and a Chicago Cubs themed Cushman Eagle scooter, so four wheels wasn't a requirement for entry, either. Oh, and if baseball isn't your favorite sport, the Chicago Blackhawks Camaro given away by the team on the ice at the United Center was up for sale. The grill was overdone, in my opinion, but otherwise a very nicely done custom that got a ton of attention from the Chicago area locals.

I've got to thank Christine Giovingo for letting me come out for a couple days on a media pass, which is a major ego boost for me (my two Mecum media passes are on display, front & center, in my office) and let me build the Library's collection of historical automotive information with such an awesome assembly of cars.

I told her the same thing I told my wife before the show: some day if I get enough to go nuts buying cars I'm going to come in on a Thursday, as the fellow at Reliable Transportation how many cars fit on a trailer, and fill it up with the sort of oddball cars I'd love to save.

And I know just where I'd like to put them. As Mecum auctions are but three days long I did discover what can only be described as a year-round dreamland for car guys. Go to AutoMotorPlex.com to see what I mean!

Oh, and as I said Mecum was "one of the best," I have to mention that the other epic car show in the area that I was thinking of when I wrote that is coming up November 23-24. That's the Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals, sponsored by (appropriately enough) Mecum Auctions. The cars at MCACN are top notch, but taking one home will probably get you 10-20 in Joliet...

As soon as I get through another work shift or two and the auction results are posted, I'll start sharing pictures from the event.

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