Mecum Auctions: Everyman’s show in Classic Car Week

James Raia

Ask John Kraman a question about automobile auctions, vintage cars, industry trends or automotive history and answers come fast and furious. He’s as enthusiastic as anyone, and his knowledge flows as fast as verbal clarity allows.

As Director of Company Relations and Lead TV Commentator/Analyst for Mecum Auctions, Kraman will be part of the large staff again working the world’s largest car auction during Classic Car Week.

The Mecum Auctions staging area at the recent auction in Monterey, California.
The Mecum Auctions staging area at the recent auction in Monterey, California. All images © Bruce Aldrich/2017

The rapid-fire affair, among several auctions held throughout the gathering of all things automotive, will be held Aug. 23-25 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa and Del Monte Golf Course.

About 600 cars — exotics, muscle cars, sports cars, vintage vans and pick-up trucks, tractors and memorabilia — will all be available for viewing before the controlled whirlwind during the auction. It will be Mecum’s ninth auction in 2018 and its eighth year on the Monterey Peninsula.

“We’re bringing a lot of cars spanning a lot of genres and a lot of generations,” said Kraman, who’s part of the NBCSN crew. “It will be very heavy on European exotics, vintage and contemporary, but with a smattering of tradition Mecum inventory such as muscle cars, street and custom rods. It’s going to be great.”

Mecum’s is the only auction televised live during Classic Car Week. A televised auction preview of the Monterey auction will be a first for the network.

A mechanic, pilot and car collector, Kraman joins his colleagues with a fast-paced presentation. He knows the pedigrees of all of the vehicles and details each one like it’s his favorite.

As always, rarities will be a highlighted during the Mecum Auction. But attainable vehicles are the norm. As in past years, vehicles are auctioned every two minutes.

A 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari, 2014 Pagani Huayra, 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition and 2012 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport 16.4 will be among marque vehicles.

A 1958 Porsche 550A Spyder, Kraman noted, is the “pride and joy” of the entire auction. It’s predicted to sell for approximately $5 million. The sports car was known for its ability to outrace more prestigious vehicles. The actor James Dean was killed after crashing his Porsche 550A, nicknamed “Little Bastard” in 1955.

In addition to exotics, vintage pickups and muscle cars remain collectors’ favorites. But a surprising recent trend is the increasing popularity of the Volkswagen busses from the 1950s and 1960s. A 1963 VW bus with 23 windows has an expected auction value of $175,000 to $190,000.

“The Monterey auction is a bit unique,” said Kraman. “Six hundred cars sound like an impressive lineup, but it’s actually one of our smaller auctions in terms of volume. It’s not as difficult for us to manage as our bigger auctions. But the per-car-dollar average is the highest of all of our auctions.”

According to Kraman, about 350 vehicles sold last year during the Monterey stop of the nearly year-round national Mecum auction circuit. Revenue was slightly less than $40 million.

With prestigious events set throughout Classic Car Week, Kraman said he often hears from the public that Mecum Auction events are best car shows they’ve ever attended.

“We have a strategy for placement, so we don’t alienate our traditional Mecum base while we still accommodation the high-end genre,” he said.

Thursday’s opening day is geared toward about 200 vehicles with expected values of less than $50,000. Friday and Saturday are designed as “boutique auctions” with 150 vehicles offered each day and presented in a full-color catalog.

“That’s when we are going to see the high-dollar cars,” said Kraman. “What surprises people is just now accessible the cars are. It really just looks like a high-end auto show. The difference is, this show is for commerce. These cars are for sale.”

A comprehensive guide to all of the company’s auctions, details of the vehicles set for Monterey auction, bidding guidelines, ticket prices and the television broadcast schedule are available on the website,

Article Last Updated: August 21, 2018.

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