In its 31st consecutive year, Mecum Auctions Spring Classic sale will take place May 15-20 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis. The event features an estimated 2,000 consignments from 49 states highlighted by nearly 30 private collections.
The collections are composed of significant examples of the best muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s as well as a few custom creations.
One collection is from successful entrepreneur and multiple-business owner Rob Blair of Calgary, Alberta. By the time Blair was 35, he had already achieved the success required to purchase the first car in his prolific collection, a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda. Today, Blair has around 40 cars, most of which fall into the same category as his earlier Barracuda: cars from the late-‘60s/early-‘70s Golden Era of American Muscle.
“The goal was to get the best performance vehicle of each manufacturer during that era,” Blair explained of the collection. “Essentially the highest horsepower cars from then. And of course, anything unique or from a low production run has always been attractive to me as well.”
Seeking to reduce his collection to a more manageable size, Blair has decided to part ways with 11 cars from his collection. Among them is a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 Fastback with the 820-S NASCAR engine and the ultra-rare 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 Convertible.
Another collection offered during Mecum’s Indianapolis auction is the Richard Cohen Big Tank Collection. The collection is composed of one N03-optioned Corvette from every year of production, which spans from 1963 through 1967. According to Mecum, it is the only complete collection of its kind in the world.
Per the Corvette Black Book, 63 cars were built in 1963, 38 in ’64, 41 in ’65, 66 in 1966, and in the final year of N03 production, 1967, there were only two.
The Keith Busse’s Corvette Pace Car Collection is the only collection that is a complete set of Corvette Pace Car Editions.
Composed of 16 cars, the collection includes two official pace cars—one of which is a factory pilot car—four official track cars, five IMS-authorized duplicate pace cars, and a Corvette pace car edition from every year ever offered by Chevrolet, of which four have been Bloomington Gold Certified and NCRS Top Flight award winners.
Proceeds from the sale of the Corvette pace car collection will benefit the Keith Busse Automotive and Classic Art Foundation, which aims to provide financial support to higher education institutions and charitable organizations in Northeast Indiana.
Major League Baseball’s “Mr. October,” Reggie Jackson, likes his cars to be as unique and bold as his personality. Jackson is a five-time World Series-winning athlete and MLB Hall-of-Famer, with a private collection of around 100 classic and collector cars.
Jackson is set to sell 19 vehicles from his collection. All of the cars are all investment-quality collectibles, all with high desirability and provenance. When coupled with Jackson’s own prominent past, these cars become part of a class of vehicles that appeal to enthusiasts in a way that appeals to both generations and genres.
With an exceptional lineup of collector vehicles that just keeps growing, the auction will see 20 vehicles from the Surf City Garage collection cross the block at no reserve.
Surf City Garage was created by Tim Miller with the sole intention of presenting an amazing display space for his vehicles – one that could also serve equal duty as a workspace for the restoration of those cars.
His dream was brought to life within the walls of Surf City headquarters and served as something Miller enjoyed as a hobby for a long time. As he found vehicles, acquired them, and restored them, he hired full-time employees to help with the work. As his cars and staff grew, so did his need for high-quality products to maintain them. Miller’s employees lamented that the market at the time offered little, and nothing satisfactory.
To keep his employees happy and his cars in their most pristine states possible, Miller began to research the products available, eventually hiring a chemist to develop new blends.
Miller would deliver the mixtures to his restoration specialists to test them out and report back as to their effectiveness. If room for improvement remained, Miller returned to the chemist for an adjusted formula. This process continued until the restoration specialists were finally able to report back to Miller that they felt they were using the absolute best product for the job, whatever the job was, from waxing paint to cleaning leather.
Eventually, Surf City Garage had a small line of various in-house detailing products at its disposal that the crew felt were better than anything else available.
Miller and the crew at Surf City wanted to share their products with other local enthusiasts and news of Surf City’s products quickly spread. Miller said they were handing out “samples” by the thousands. It was at that point when Miller decided to make the products available to the public was important to him, and in 2007, Surf City Garage offered retail detailing products.
As for the vehicles in the ever-growing Surf City Collection, parting with them is occasionally necessary. One building and a handful of caretakers can only contain and maintain so many vehicles, so every so often, Miller is forced to make the tough decision of letting some go.
No-reserve offerings from the Jim Street Estate Collection will serve as another auction highlight encompassing iconic vehicles such as the Golden Sahara and Kookie’s Kar.
The Golden Sahara has long been a lost darling among car enthusiasts. It spent many years touring around the country as one of America’s most famous custom cars. It drew massive crowds and hordes of media everywhere, it went before its sudden disappearance into the garage of its owner, never to be seen again.
Part of the Golden Sahara’s allure is its immortalization in the film “Cinderfella” starring Jerry Lewis. It’s continuously celebrated as one of the most innovative, futuristic and generally awe-inspiring vehicles of the late ‘50s and through the 1960s, the Golden Sahara was a celebrity of mass scale.
The car’s revolutionary electronic control system—which allowed it to be steered and operated in myriad ways, including by remote control—effectively categorized the car as autonomous and earned it the designation as the most expensive car of its time.
The same owner also offers “Kookie’s Kar,” a build that was started by Norm Grabowski in 1952, finished in 1955. It was nicknamed “Lightnin’ Bug” and is credited with starting the “T-Bucket craze” as it was built on a 1931 Ford Model A roadster chassis with the front half of a 1922 Ford Model T swapped in and it had a shortened back half of a Ford Model A pickup truck.
When the car made its debut it was It was painted black with a red and pleated leather interior.
It has appeared on the October 1955 cover of “Hot Rod” magazine and seen on TV in “Mr. Kagle and the Babysitter” in 1956. Later that year the car was painted “Dodge Royal Blue” with flames and pinstripes done by Dean Jeffries. Following the update, the car appeared on the cover of the April 1957 issue of “Car Craft.”
In 1958, the car appeared on the TV show “77 Sunset Strip” and acquired its current name, “Kookie’s Kar.” The name is derived from the owner’s TV character, Gerald “Kookie” Kookson III. Later in 1959, Grabowski sold the car to Jim “Street” Skonzakes for $3,000. Skonzakes promptly took it to Watson’s House of Style and had it painted in Rose Pearl with Candy Red flames, black tips, and white pinstripes. The interior was changed to white pearl-button tufted leather.
Kookie’s Kar joined the Golden Sahara II and toured the country in a special gold truck and trailer.
Over time, Jim Street added dual headlights, dual superchargers, dual slicks on each side in the back, high-back bucket seats and “Zoomie” exhaust pipes that were as high as the windshield. The car’s styling has undoubtedly evolved throughout the years, at its heart, this is still the original, unforgettable and one-of-a-kind Kookie’s Kar.
Adam Vinatieri, the oldest active player in the NFL at age 44 and a four-time NFL Super Bowl champion serves as the placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts, offers two vehicles during the sale.
While both vehicles Vinatieri will offer are undeniable muscle machines, their age gap makes for an interesting mix. On the docket are a gorgeous gold 1968 Shelby and a 2013 Dodge Challenger.
Mike Guarise built a name for himself among collector-car enthusiasts for collecting some of the very best General Motors ever produced. Guarise said he goes through phases of “tunnel vision” where he focuses in on one very specific type of vehicle. “For a while, it was supercars, and I had numerous Yenkos, Nickey cars, Mr. Norm cars; then for a period of time, it was all about named race cars.” Most recently, it was Buick’s Stage 1-optioned Gran Sports.
As Guarise’s focus shifts, he has decided to make room for others. “I’ll start segueing into different cars, just to keep it fresh,” he said. “If I go out into my building and see the same thing for more than five years in a row, I need to ‘change the furniture around’ a bit; it keeps the hobby fun and interesting.”
With Guarise’s incredible attention to detail, his well-sorted cars often exist among the highest-caliber of their kind.
Guarise’s GTOs offer a snapshot of the model’s formative years. On the docket is a 1965 factory Tri-Power 4-speed GTO, a 1966 4-speed GTO with the upgraded WS-suffix Tri-Power engine, and a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge, Pontiac’s iconic Ram Air III engine-equipped beast originally released to compete with Plymouth’s Road Runner.
He has rounded out his collection this year with one more, a 4-speed 1970 Buick GS Stage 1 Convertible—the only known example in Glacier White with a Burnished Saddle interior.
Very few other American cars can compete with the Ford Mustang in terms of continuous production runs. Over 9 million cars have been produced throughout its 54 years, making the Mustang one of the most successful cars of both postwar automotive history, and of all time.
The first-generation 1965-73 models and the Fox-body 1979-93 models remain among the most popular collector and hobby cars with hundreds of Mustang-specific clubs worldwide, dedicated magazines and an ungodly number of websites and forums.
At the auction, seven collectible Mustangs representing the iconic first generation will be offered from the Waterford Collection.
Each car is a prime example and the grouping exemplifies a broad cross-section of Mustang throughout the first generation. Among them is an R-code Mach 1, Boss 302, a pair of first-year 1965 examples, a 1966 car sporting a unique color combination, a 1971 Boss 351 equipped with its original drivetrain and an exceedingly rare 1968 R-code Cobra Jet GT fastback with a 4-speed.
Harold Messner says he has been a car nut ever since he was a child. Retired with his wife near the Jersey Shore, Messner has had the opportunity to follow his passion for cars and has amassed an impressive collection of classic muscle cars.
Messner first started collecting cars seriously just six years ago when he purchased his first collector car at Mecum Indy 2013.
When he first started collecting, Messner described himself as being a purist; originality and impeccable documentation was key to him. He’s since built up a collection of 24 cars, all of which are housed in climate-controlled storage back home in New Jersey.
With his interests changing slightly and a need for space, Messner said it’s time to bring some of his collection to auction. “To drive one, I have to move five out … It’s time to thin it out a little bit,” he said. As such, returning as a seller this year will bring his time in the hobby full circle, right back to where it all began. “I bought my first cars there, and it’s been a nice little journey ever since.”
Like a museum collection, Messner has maintained the cars well over the years, ensuring that they remain in the very best state possible. “It’s like they say, we don’t own them, we’re just curators of them,” he said.
From classic Dodges and Plymouths representing varying degrees of exclusivity—including a one-of-seven Plymouth Hemi Cuda and a Hemi Challenger R/T that’s one-of-one as optioned—to a 2015 SRT Hellcat, Chrysler’s modern foray into the muscle-car wars, that monstrous Hemi that Mopar became so famous for can be found between the front fenders of each of Messner’s offerings.
Dallas Hawkins is the owner/operator of Midwest Muscle Cars, a small company in Michigan that offers a modestly sized selection of classic cars for sale. Twenty-three of which he will offer without reserve at the auction.
Hawkins explained that the MWMC entity was born of his own desire to collect cars – it was less a business venture, as it was a tool to facilitate his hobby. “It’s been comfortably successful, but I didn’t do it for the money. I did it because I wanted to be able to buy and sell these cars. There are some I’ve had for 20 years, but others I get bored with, and then I want to give someone else a chance to enjoy it.”
While Hawkins typically sells his own cars, he often buys them faster than he sells them, and occasionally, he reaches max capacity. That’s when he calls Mecum. His no-reserve, 23-car offering is due to being at maximum capacity.
From classic muscle cars like Mustangs, Cudas, and Chevelles, to Chevrolet pickups, Corvettes and Impalas, and even a Volkswagen Thing, Hawkins’ collection offers a little bit of everything from across the collector-car genre.
For more information about the auction, see Mecum Auctions.