GEARHEADS REVISIT THEIR BEST DAYS
Gearheads revisit their best days at Mecum auto show
About 1,000 American muscle cars will be sold by the time the 2017 Mecum Denver auction runs out at the Colorado Convention Center on Saturday.
Roy and Linda Dietz wandered the floor of the Colorado Convention Center on Thursday, looking over hundreds of vehicles at the Mecum Auction. They had no intention of bidding on a car — but they were tempted by a 1964 Ford Falcon.
“It was our first brand new car,” Roy Dietz said.
They traded up for a Ford Galaxie 500 after two years, because their family was growing, he said. “We needed a bigger car.”
Still, spotting a similar Falcon on the floor at Mecum triggered a flood of memories for the Aurora couple who have been married 58 years. They’re not alone.
“It’s an emotional drive, not a financial drive” for most people, Mecum CEO Dave Magers said.
Nostalgia fuels a big part of the Mecum experience, Magers said. Like the guy who goes to the show — Denver’s runs through Saturday — looking for a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro. Why? Because he brought his girlfriend to the prom in one all those years ago.
“It’s a piece of your past you
will never forget,” Magers said. “Think about some of your fondest memories, and they’ll involve cars.”
Mecum, which holds auctions around the country, hosted its first Denver event three years ago. It was successful. The second show grew, and this year’s show is bigger still, covering three days. The first two auctions here were two-day events.
Before leaving Denver, Mecum will have displayed and sold 1,000 vehicles, from muscle cars to pickups, antiques to new cars. The oldest vehicle at the Denver show was from 1912, the newest 2017.
On Thursday an auctioneer wearing a cowboy hat used the familiar rapid-fire cadence to solicit bids. “Can I get…Can I get…$5,000,” he trumpeted as a classic Volkswagen Beetle rolled across the stage.
Plenty of bidders filled the auction area seats, while spectators who were watching but did not bid, filled seats farther from the stage. Meanwhile additional show attendees wandered the hall, taking pho- tos and videos of their favorite rides. About 15,000 automobile enthusiasts are expected to attend the three days of the show.
Lance Smith of Stratton, with a cloth in one hand and a squirt bottle in the other, buffed a final shine into his 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle. Owner of Heritage Classics, Smith buys and trades classic cars, restores and sells them.
He thought of keeping the Chevelle for his 16-year-old son, Lance, but the 454-cubic-inch engine, with 450 horsepower, could be overwhelming, perhaps even trouble, for a beginner driver.
“It’s been all hopped up,” Smith said.
Smith hoped to get about $40,000 for the Chevy Chevelle, which some enthusiasts refer to as “The Ultimate Muscle Car.”
Mecum officials hope some cars are able to rally on the auction block, pushing prices up to six figures and above. “I’d be disappointed if there isn’t,” Magers said.
In Colorado, a classic Ford Bronco or a Toyota FJ Cruiser, off-road vehicles able to roam back-country trails, could fetch big bucks. Or an orange 1975 Corvette could catch the eye of a Broncos fan.
Willie Rutz of Lakewood, who restored and sold cars for decades and is now an appraiser, sees high-end auctions in a simple light.
“All it takes is two people bidding against each other,” Rutz said.
A 1970 American Motors Corporation muscle car, “The Machine,” caught Rutz’s attention. Anchored by the most powerful engine ever produced by AMC for a production car — 390 cubic inches, 340 horsepower, V-8 — it sports a white paint job with red and blue trim.
“That’s a neat, old car,” he said smiling.
Roy and Linda Dietz, who spied the Ford Falcon, leaned on logic to fight off the bidding bug.
Linda drives a four-wheel drive Ford F-150 pickup. “I can see where I’m going,” she said.
Roy drives a BMW Z3, a James Bond car. “That’s my little baby,” he said.
If they were to bag the Falcon, he said, “we’d need a bigger garage.”
About 1,000 American muscle cars, classics, hot rods and new vehicles will be sold by the time the 2017 Mecum Denver auction runs out at the Colorado Convention Center on Saturday.
Don Kvasnicka, left, and his father, Rick, check out a 1967 Pontiac GTO, one of the muscle cars offered for sale during Mecum’s third auction in Denver.
People look at vintage cars before the auction begins.