#denver auto auction
Classic vehicles are joining the ranks of art, jewelry as popular collectible assets
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Bill Boardman on Friday checks out cars before the start of the Mecum collectible car auction. (Photos by RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post )
You can have your Picassos, your Ch teaux Lafites, your 20-carat pink diamonds. The only collectible Friday that mattered to Koko Herman was the metallic blue 1968 Pontiac GTO on the auction block at the Colorado Convention Center.
Herman raised her hand to bid. Someone bid higher. She raised the bid. Someone else bid higher.
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Gloved crew members of Mecum push a 1961 Bubbletop Buick Invicta into the auction at the Colorado Convention Center on Friday.
An estimated 4,000 people came Friday to buy, sell or just revel in the sights, sounds and smells.
PHOTOS: View more images of the collectible cars from the Mecum Auctions
The 600 vehicles up for auction Friday and Saturday ran the gamut from vintage classics such as a 1923 Ford Model T Roadster to 1960s muscle cars to Ferraris and Maseratis.
As a whole, collectible car values have risen 44 percent over the past three years, according to Hagerty, a Michigan-based automotive insurer and valuation firm.
Analysts say that over the past decade, classic cars have entered the realm of traditional collectible assets such as fine art, coins and jewelry.
But aside from a few high-net-worth investors who will pay millions for extremely rare and exotic cars, most of the market is driven by buyers who don’t care not much, anyway about return on an investment.
“It’s kind of a bucket-list thing,” said Dave Magers, CEO of Mecum Auctions. “These are people looking for the car they had in high school, or the car they wanted to have in high school. People want to have fun with these cars, and they’re a lot more fun than hanging a piece of art on the wall.”
Herman, who works in the investment department of FirstBank, said she expects eventually to realize a return on her ’68 GTO, but that wasn’t on her mind Friday.
“I like the physical part the feel of the power, the speed, the glances you get from people next to you at the stoplight,” she said. “The GTO was always a hot car in the group that I grew up with.”
By late Friday afternoon, the auction’s top sale was a 1958 Chevrolet Corvette convertible that commanded $60,000. Other cars sold for far less. The top bid on a 1987 Pontiac Fiero was $3,000.
Magers said that over the course of the two-day auction, he expects several sales to ring up at more than $100,000.
Veteran car collectors Diana and Bernard Schrader traveled from Henderson, Nev. to catch the Denver show and to sell their ’59 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner with a retractable hardtop. Selling is the main purpose of their trip. But with so many attractive cars on the auction block, might they return to Nevada with a new purchase in tow?
Bernard’s bidding hand virtually twitched in expectation until he glanced at Diana.
“I’m going to get some masking tape,” she said, grinning, “and use it to tape his arms down.”