In the high-octane setting of televised auctions, very few recognize the behind-the-scenes work necessary to prepare a car for its trip across the stage. During Mecum's Kissimmee auction, we followed a genuine classic, a 1967 Shelby GT350, through the entire auction process, beginning with its arrival, and ending with its transfer to the new owner. This was only 1 of almost 3,000 stories that played out during this ten-day event, in what turned out to be the largest collector car auction in history.
We spotted the 1967 Lime Gold Shelby, with white Le Mans stripes, just as it rolled out of the car hauler. In the bright Florida sun, the car looked as new as the day Carroll Shelby's team first created it. Greg, the owner, told us that work on the Shelby had been ongoing until right before its shipment to Mecum. Terry, who was responsible for its restoration, had been working nonstop to get it ready for the auction. Therefore, he slept during most of the ten-hour drive from North Carolina to Kissimmee, while Barbara, his wife, drove the truck that pulled the car hauler.
Although the distance from the unloading area to the Mecum check-in tent was only a few hundred feet, Greg said that was the farthest the car had been driven since the completion of its restoration, only hours before. At the check-in tent, Mecum's inspector verified that the VIN number and odometer reading on the car matched with the paperwork Greg previously submitted. After the Shelby passed inspection, it was taken to a display tent, where it, as well as other high-value cars, could be viewed by potential bidders. As soon as it was parked, Greg performed final detailing, he set up a plaque that summarized the car's features, and he positioned mirrors to show the pristine condition of the car's underside. Undoubtedly, the GT350 was impressive, but there would be a lot of competition from the neighboring rows of Stingrays, 'Cudas, and other highly-prized muscle cars.
Timing can be very important when auctioning cars, and Greg was fortunate enough to get a good time slot for his Shelby - early afternoon on Saturday. Also, he was allowed to move the GT350 to the staging area outside the auction hall Saturday morning, well in advance of the sale time. This placed his car in a prime spot, since serious bidders go to this staging area to get a last look at cars, before they head to the auction block.
Although Mecum drivers typically move the cars around the auction complex, Barbara was given the honor of driving the Shelby across the stage. A very boisterous 1968 Pro Touring Camaro was in front of her, and behind her was a 1972 Olds Hurst Indy Pace car. However, despite the Camaro's strong sounding engine and the special edition graphics on the Olds, neither of these cars met their reserve prices, so they left the auction hall unsold. But, when the Shelby took center stage, it was apparent from the onset that there was serious interest in the car. The bids quickly increased, until reaching the $100,000 mark. Then, in the final seconds, the last and winning bid was placed, and the hammer fell at $110,000. After Barbara drove the Shelby out of the auction hall, she, Greg, and Terry shared a bittersweet moment. They knew this might be the last time they'd see the car. But, as Terry said, "It's time to move on to the next project."
The Shelby was driven back to its original display tent for temporary holding. After going by the Mecum Auction Office, Bob, the new owner, decided to take another look at his newly acquired Shelby. He couldn't wait any longer -- he started it up, drove it a few feet, and then reparked it. He was looking forward to returning to Indianapolis, where he anticipates spending quality time with it this summer and many summers to come. He told us that although he has a late model Shelby, he also wanted one of the classics. It's gratifying to know this GT350 has a good home, with someone who appreciates the significance of its pedigree.