We are just back from Las Vegas where the 24th annual motorcycle auction was held from Thursday, January 8 to Saturday, January 10, 2015. This event is now definitely a Mecum auction with very little of the old Midamerica staff and flavor remaining. The auction was held at South Point Hotel and Exhibit Hall, about 5 miles south of the main Las Vegas strip.
These are our general observations of the auction …
- The auction dais was much larger than Midamerica’s had been in past years. It was relocated to the middle of the room and the Haul Bike trailer was in the parking lot, not parked on the auction floor as the entire room had to accommodate the 750 motorcycles in the auction.
- The number of Mecum employees was way up compared with previous Midamerica auctions. When we unloaded our bikes, we had several begging to help us as they had nothing else to do. That will probably change to a lower number in the future now that Mecum has this experience under their belt.
- The bikes went across the auction block very quickly with most getting one rotation on the turnstile and then less than a minute of bidding action afterwards before the hammer was dropped. No reserve bikes went through faster than reserve bikes.
- Many collection bikes sold very low, in some cases it seemed for close to what it cost to bring them to the auction.
- Mecum’s office efficiency was very impressive. In most cases, checks were issued right after buyer’s paid for their machines. Sales prices were listed on the Mecum website very quickly after the auction. Little or no waiting to register or to see a member of the Mecum office staff.
- The general consensus was that we saw much lower quality at the bottom end than in previous auctions probably due to the higher number of motorcycles sold (750 versus 500 in previous years). On Thursday night, for the first time, we heard the word “junk” mentioned frequently by the attendees in reference to the quality of the bikes going across the block.
- Internet and phone bidding seemed much less prominent than in previous years.
- With few exceptions, the combination of a larger Thursday night auction and many bikes at no reserve resulted in very low prices for some motorcycles, although the prices early in Friday morning also seemed to be suppressed.
- Dana Mecum was there but only observing. Frank Mecum, his son, was prominently overseeing all auction activities and managed the reserves on each sale. Ron Christenson was on the stage but had a very much smaller role than previously.
- Unsold lots went to an area where only the highest bid was posted (the “corral”). At earlier Midamerica auctions, the asking or reserve price had always been shown in the corral. Not anymore … Mecum’s approach was definitely a change.
- The commission was 10% on reserve sales ($400 listing fee for Fri/Sat, $250 for Thu and $500 minimum) and 8% for no reserve (No listing fee and $500 minimum). The only consolation was that Bonham’s charged a 15% buyer’s premium for motorcycles at their auction at Bally’s on Thursday. The consensus from those attending both auctions was that Bonham’s achieved higher prices in spite of their hefty commission percentage by having better quality and less quantity.
- To arouse the crowd on Thursday night, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” was boomed throughout the room. I am definitely an AC/DC fan, but not at 150 decibels. Most attendees were wondering what Mecum was thinking …..
These are a couple of things I learned or were reconfirmed for me at this year’s Mecum auction ….
- Any decent motorcycle should never be sold at no reserve and/or on Thursday night. The savings in listing fee and the extra 2% commission just isn’t worth the lower sales price.
- Do not declare matching numbers … it makes no difference for the sale as most bidders will inspect both the frame and engine numbers before they bid. If you “declare matching numbers”, Mecum will hold your check an extra 24 hours to allow the buyer to inspect your numbers.
- Make sure your title exactly matches the numbers on the frame … This may seem pretty obvious, but our 1964 T120R title had only the “DUXXXX” number instead of “T120R DUXXXX” as shown on the frame. Deleting the model number from the vin was a common registration practice for DMVs and dealerships in Washington and many other states when bikes were sold back in the 1960s. In past auctions, Midamerica understood this and it wasn’t a problem but Mecum, coming from the world of car auctions, has a more stringent requirement. Thankfully, we were able to resolve the problem satisfactorily without having to get a new title issued.
Our 1969 T120R Bonneville, restored by Kenny Dreer sold on the block for $18,000, one of the highest prices achieved for a Triumph.
Our 1964 T120R had a high bid of $11,500 but we subsequently agreed to a sale price of $12,000 out of the “corral”… a bit less than we expected but still a decent price.
Leroy Turner sold his 1967 T120R for $13,750 which was lower than we expected. His 1969 BSA Victor Special sold for $10,250, in spite of the fact that there many of these models at the auction.
Biggest surprise … Rod Wheeler once again raised eyebrows with the impressive sales price of $15,500 for a 1969 T100C. The tank paint on Rod’s bikes always seems to “pop” which may be a big reason they sell so highly.
Rod Wheeler's 1969 T100C went for $15,500 ...
Highest bid for a Triumph production motorcycle went to a 1973 X-75 Hurricane at $28,000 but it did not sell in the end, even in the “corral”. A 1968 Triumph T250 Gary Nixon Racer took top position for all Triumphs sold at $38,000.
The oldest Triumph sold was a 1925 Model P that went for $18,000.
1925 Model P sold for $18,000 ...
Best bargain for a Triumph went to two 1964 TR6Rs that sold for only $6000 and $7000. The $6000 bike went across the block early on Friday morning at no reserve. I spoke to the owner afterwards and he was upset at such a low price. I agree with him that his bike should have gone for much more but the same model on Friday afternoon only went for $7000.
The most puzzling sale of a Triumph went to a 1967 T120TT replica which sold for $14,000. This bike wasn’t listed as a replica but it was noted as such on its information card and on the screen when going across the block. Its actual “T120R” engine number was shown as a bullet point on the screen during the bidding. We can only hope that the new owner knew it was a replica, not an original TT. Note: There were several other 1967 TTs sold at the auction. A Bill Hoard restored 1967 TT was definitely a bargain at $11,500. It sold early on Friday so its position in the auction might have had something to do with its low price.
1967 T120TT replica ...
Probably due to the very high sales price of Rod Wheeler’s 1969 TR6C last year ($25,000), several of that model showed up at the auction this year. None achieved the lofty price of the Wheeler bike, but Don Harrell’s sold for $15,000. Perhaps the eye popping red paint on Rod’s TR6C last year explains the price differential.
Don Harrell's 1969 TR6C sold for $15,000 ...
To see all of the results, go to mecum.com. You will have to register and log in to see the sold amounts.