In the middle months of the year, the U.S. auction season typically slows down a bit. Driving season is underway and events for using cars rather than buying them start filling the calendar. The big, huge, sprawling exception to this is “Dana Mecum’s Original Spring Classic,” known to most of us auction-watchers simply as “Mecum Indy.” Typically spanning over a week and ending the weekend before the Indy 500, this is Mecum’s second largest sale after Kissimmee and the largest auction event going on between Amelia Island and Monterey.
This year was the 35th running of Mecum Indy, and it gets bigger every year. Mecum moved into the 250-acre Indiana State Fairgrounds in 2008, and what was a four-day sale 14 years ago is now a nine-day mega auction. Indy is one of the few big live auctions to come through the pandemic largely unaffected (aside from a postponement in 2020 and some basic safety precautions), and last year was the sale’s biggest. This year was bigger still, with Mecum reporting $126.5M in total sales (Mecum includes automobilia in its sales totals).
But even though phrases like “biggest ever” and “record price” are thrown around every few days so far in 2022, we’ve been wondering how sustainable this super-heated collector market can be, and of course can’t ignore the economic turmoil in the wider world (stock market rumblings, inflation, supply chain woes, war, etc.). Since Indy is the biggest auction we’ll see for a few months, were there any signs of a slowdown despite the big numbers?
First off, Mecum offered around 300 (or 20 percent) more vehicles this year than last year and had a similar sell-through rate, which partially explains the big bump in sales totals. High-dollar muscle cars sold well, like the Hemi 4-speed Charger Daytona that brought a record $1.32M. So did the historic racing cars from Ray Evernham’s collection, like the ex-Andretti Brawner Hawk Ford Indy car that brought $2.2M.
That said, although there were lots of strong results and quite a few broken records, there were fewer than we’ve become used to seeing over this non-stop climb of the last 18 months. Fewer price guide-smashing numbers, more bargains, more buyer restraint. Most of the folks we talked to came to the same conclusion. We’ll see if this holds true at Mecum’s smaller sale in Tulsa, Oklahoma in a few weeks.
Now that the final hammer has fallen in Indy 2022, check out the pages below to see deeper looks at some of the auction’s most interesting, significant and surprising cars.