In the current age of online car auctions, more sites seem to pop up every day hoping to get in on the lucrative business. And collectors seem more and more willing to buy cars remotely, thanks to the new standards for photos, driving videos, and responsive sellers set by sites like Bring a Trailer. As someone who always firmly believed in both seeing and driving a car in person before making a purchase, I can admit that even I found myself surprised at how well the recent purchase of a 1967 Volvo 122S went online.
Auto auction sites and social media undoubtedly contributed to the collectible car market boom over the past couple of years, but live auction companies still believe they offer something that web pages simply cannot provide—and over $200 million worth of cars sold by Mecum Auctions at January's Kissimmee 2022 auction seems to prove the point.
This week, Mecum invited HotCars behind the scenes at the annual Glendale 2022 auction currently being held at State Farm Stadium, the home turf of the Arizona Cardinals football team, where the family-run company will attempt to auction off an impressive slate of around 1,500 cars in only four days.
Five Days To Auction 1,500 Cars
I previously visited with Mecum in-person last summer at Monterey Car Week, but the stadium settings at Glendale feels like an entirely different ballgame. Filling up the parking lots where sports fans tailgate, massive tents and lines of cars spiderweb across the facility, as guests wander around or check out live experiences like a Dodge Power Party setup where SRT reps offer ridealongs and autocross competitions with a fleet of Charger and Challenger Redeyes.
Walking inside, an incredible selection of automotive memorabilia further helps to get guests in the mood—a huge lot of neon road signs from a single collector made for some fun browsing of vintage advertising. But the signs also hint at the sheer logistics Mecum faces pulling a massive auction like this together. An entire crew of staff handles checking in cars, vetting vehicles (for tags, VINs, numbers-matching engines, and flaws), cleaning and detailing inside and out, and then making sure that every car and owner knows when they need to cross the block.
Throw in the actual title checks, transfers, financing, and shipping before then considering how many employees actually appear on the auction block as the auctioneers rattle off bids all day every day. And then add on the helpful team outside who can unlock doors and even fire up engines for potential bidders.
Big Crowds Expected And More Bidding Online
The Mecum staff expects around 20,000 to attend Glendale 2022 at peak bidding times. On Wednesday, State Farm Stadium started a little empty but began to fill up by mid-afternoon. Thursday crowds swelled further, as spectators joined in the stands to watch the full rows of bidding tables and the cars going across the block. And in addition to all the bidders and spectators attending live, Mecum also now logs about 30% of bids from their online portal, which only helps the consignors I spoke with feel more confident that their vehicles will fetch enough bids—even in today's borderline-unbelievable market where new auction records seem to fall with every passing week.
Impressive Variety Up For Auction
Mecum seems happy with the combination of in-person auction action and online bidding, which also helps to explain the impressive variety of cars, trucks, and even boats that showed up at Glendale. European sports cars and luxury tourers, modern supercars, built Jeeps, drag racers, motorcycles, and tricycles all fit on the bill. And plenty of potential consignors also show up unannounced throughout the course of the auction in the hopes of adding their lots to the list—Mecum's team does their best to oblige, though they do end up turning some latecomers away. When I visited the check-in team, they had already logged over 1,000 vehicles and only 12 showed up in rough enough shape to get barred from entry, a smaller figure than a fleet of mostly older and classic cars might normally suggest.
Getting Acclimated To The Auctioneers
For potential buyers and spectators alike, just getting acclimated to everything at a live Mecum Auction requires a bit of an adjustment. Throughout the stadium and facilities, speakers on high volume blast the staccato rhythm of auctioneers as they amp up the crowd for cars rolling (or, more accurately, being pushed) across the block. These professionals actually attend an auctioneer school where they learn how to keep the crowd's energy up, how to coax out the hesitant bidders, and when to time a sale with that signature smash of the wooden hammer. A crew of four or five auctioneers rotated every half-hour or so on Wednesday and Thursday, taking breaks for water to keep their rhythm flowing.
The Best Cars Still To Come
Just on Wednesday and Thursday, a few incredible cars attracted impressive bids. I kept my eye on a six-speed manual-swapped Ferrari 575M with only 23,207 on the clock, which almost cracked $200,000. A Land Rover Defender in yellow almost reached the same level, and a couple of muscle cars broke into the six-figure range. I also spotted a 957-generation Porsche Cayenne Turbo that struggled to reach even $20,000—not quite the number that I, as a Cayenne Turbo owner, might have hoped for but still a solid buy, nonetheless.
The large lineup of American classics, restored pickups, and customs kept rolling past all day and well into the evening, but Mecum holds the best cars to serve as main attractions on Saturday. Highlights will include a duo of pre-production Ford Mustang convertibles, a Porsche Carrera GT, a brand-new GMC Hummer EV, and a Ferrari 275 GTB/4, among others. In the meantime, our coverage of Mecum's Glendale 2022 auction continues, so stay tuned for more videos and stories coming soon.
Sources: mecum.com, statefarmstadium.com, dodgegarage.com, and azcardinals.com.