Monday, April 18, 2016

Trading Places, Muscle Car Market Shift in January 2016 Auctions

by Patrick Krook

2016, many predicted, would be a year for correction, with prices coming off of a trend that has been reclaiming gains lost during the 2007 bubble burst.  The major news outlets were quick to tip giants off of pedestals, stating that Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2016 was off nearly 16% over 2015- a record year.    If that happened in a vacuum, it would be news.   That analysis is, however, hasty and does not consider the complete picture.   Two keys things were different Scottsdale this year, first- last year one of the most well-known buyers at Barrett, Ron Pratte, offered his collection up for sale and people clambered to secure a piece for themselves.   Second, Mecum Auctions took advantage of an opportunity for their auction to occur, for the first time, BEFORE the big dance in Scottsdale.  They can thank the PGA tour for picking the date busy people traditionally reserve to attend the Scottsdale auction week.   Time, not money, is the commodity the wealthy automobile enthusiasts hold most dear.   Mecum used the earlier date to attract some heavy hitting collections to headline their auction, Bret Torino’s Hemi Convertibles, and Wayne Schmeeckle’s muscle car collection.  So, many chose to forego the Arizona dessert this year in favor of sunny Florida.

The result, discounting charity auction lots, Barret Jackson Scottsdale was down 12.67% on nine fewer lots from 2015 to 1216.  Mecum, on the other hand, was up 30.58% on 30 additional lots.   Now, the thing to consider is that that Barrett’s average sale decreased 12.12% to $71, 498.37, while Mecum’s increased 28.62 % to, $58,895.93 on more volume.  When you aggregate the total non-charity sales divided by the total lots from both auction, the net difference is a 2.5% reduction in average sale from 2015 to 2016.  That is nowhere near a crash or the correction the major news outlets are professing.  The actual difference is about $4.4M on a volume of over $200M.  It is important to note, that Ron Pratte sold his 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake during the 2015 BJ auction for $5.1M.   The highest sale at either auction in 2016 was nearly half that.   

Consumer confidence should not be shaken by a 2.5% difference coming off a record year, especially when that difference can be explained, for the most part, by the sale of a single lot.  There was nothing offered at Barrett or Mecum this year that had the potential to rival the value or collectability of that ’66 Shelby Cobra.  All things considered, the market saw a shift in venue this year, not a shift in values.             

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Art of War, Auction Style Pt2, The Calculations

The Art of War, Auction Style Pt2, The Calculations:

Create Your Attack Plan and Survey the Battlefield

by Patrick Krook

“Auctions are built on excitement. A new guy can get caught up in that excitement and bid more than he expected.”  

Know what kind and quality of car you want. And also realize that your desire for the car of your dreams may push you to compromise on quality.  Sharpen your pencil on your budget as well. Learn the market value for the car by studying the published results from previous auctions for similar cars. Talk to those in the club community about the direction of values, find out what similar cars have recently sold privately for.  If the market seems too high in general for what you can comfortably afford and you are really itching to buy something, consider the possibility that perhaps an auction is not the best place to buy.  Mecum offers this bit of reality testing: “Auctions are built on excitement. A new guy can get caught up in that excitement and bid more than he expected.”

The objective is to gain a situational awareness of how the auction environment builds that hype and look for opportunities to actively undermine the environment to your own advantage.  Prudence and self-control will pay long-term dividends.  Likewise, giving too much on quality to fit a price point for purchase can cost much more in the long run. Buying a “fixer-upper” through friends which hasn’t been advertised may be more affordable than one effectively promoted at auction.  You also need to survey the surroundings. One veteran auction buyer we spoke to recommends first attending a few of the auctions run by the same auction house you intend to deal with, and not registering to bid. This approach gives you a sober prospective of the environment, just like that general getting a good feel for the battlefield.

Note how the ring men work the bidders, how the lights and the show stage affect the appearance of the car when compared to how it looks waiting the corral.  Pay attention to what times of day the bidder’s area is less crowded than others.  Target opportunity buys that roll across the block during these lulls.  Fewer adversaries to bid against mean a better gavel price for you. 

Look as some of the more subjective aspects, too. Do they serve free alcohol to the bidders? Remember to stick to bottled water the day you plan to bid. Also look for weaknesses in the environment. Does the auction house tend to take on a large number of last-minute consignments? You can tell this by the number of lots that end in a decimal point, (e.g. 101.1). Does the auction house tend to run on schedule or run behind? 

Does the auction house tend to take on a large number of last-minute consignments? You can tell this by the number of lots that end in a decimal point, (e.g. 101.1).  Last minute additions are relying on incidental traffic, putting themselves on the mercy of the environment.

Early consignments do not get advanced promotion that and draw people intending to bid on that specific car.  Last minute additions are relying on incidental traffic, putting themselves on the mercy of the environment.  If overall attendance is low, or too many of the same model show up, the last minute car could be a very good buy for you.  Take advantage of the seller’s lack of planning by being prepared to evaluate these cars onsite.            

Take the time to assess your competition.  Do you happen to see the same faces show up at auction after auction? Make note of what they bid on, their bidding habits, if they always gravitate to the same ring man, or maintain eye contact directly with the auctioneer, etc.

If it appears your tastes are similar to theirs, introduce yourself and tell them that you are new to the auction scene and want to pick their brain. Some experienced bidders might be willing to share a few insider observations.  Practice bidding on paper, see where you end up compared to those placing live bids, in order to build your confidence and intuition. If you end up competing with more experienced bidders for the same car down the road, having learned from them you will be prepared to adjust your strategy accordingly.

"Take the time to assess your competition.  Do you happen to see the same faces show up at auction after auction?"

 After you have surveyed the playing field and assessed your potential competition, take the time to crystallize the vision of your mission objective. Do the research needed to really assess the knock-out factors you will use to decide if a specific car is right to bid on, or if it is a particular make or model you are targeting.  For instance, if you are looking for a 1969 ½ lift-off hood Road Runner, you need to know where all the body numbers appear on the are, what the special notches look like on the front fenders, the stamp pad codes for a SIX-PACK block are compared to a standard 440 engine block, what typically came on an A-12 packaged car,  what options typically appeared on the fender tag, how many still have the original motor, how to tell if the date codes on the intake and carbs are also original to the car, how to tell if the lift-off hood is original or reproduction, how to check the A-12 registry to get a history, etc., etc.  As your buying objective progress closer to buying a concours quality investment car, the more detailed your research needs to be.    

For a specific car, use your club contacts, network relationships, and online discussion boards to trace the owner, any history, and the back ground on that particular car. Use this information to set your bidding threshold and also as a comparison to how the car actually presents during the auction event.  If you are targeting more than one car of the same make or just fishing for a good deal, use those same resources to learn what things typically are missing, incorrect, or wear out first. Like a 1970 Boss 302 missing is snorkel, “S” tube, and rev limiter.

"...use those same resources to learn what things typically are missing, incorrect, or wear out first. Like a 1970 Boss 302 missing is snorkel, “S” tube, and rev limiter."

Also be certain to familiarize yourself with signs of abuse, or masked abuse.  A front radiator support that has been replaced is a sign of front end damage.  Over-spray on door seals, or a rear valances that have been mudded in could point to hasty bodywork.  Look at the frame rails and the inner fender aprons for evidence of welded in patches or outright replacement.  An engine bay could be missing thousands in original smog, air cleaner, and performance equipment.  Sometimes an original block has been swapped out for a more common later model short-block or one cast for use in a truck.  If any of these things are detected, be prepared to walk away.

In either case, if you realize your knowledge is limited, bring someone with you or hire a professional inspector who is well versed with that particular make do the evaluation for you. Acknowledging your own limitations can be a strength, just as a good general relies on skilled officers for input and advice. Your pocketbook will thank you later. The more homework you do, the more likely your success.  

Next Time:   The Art of War, Auction Style, Part 3 Estimate the Costs

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Art of War, Auction Style -Tactics and Strategies for Conquering the Auction Environment

The Art of War, Auction Style

Tactics and Strategies for Conquering the Auction Environment

By Patrick Krook

This 1969 Chevrolet ZL-1 is an excellent example of conquering the auction environment.  A Blue Chip car, selling well under the money.

            The possibility of getting a great collectible muscle car is the allure that draws thousands to the auction tent every year. When attending an auction for the first time, though, it can be difficult to see all the variables that can affect the outcome of the event—and your potential purchase. You walk into the bidding arena, VIP pass around your neck, the stage is set, the red carpets are laid down and the lights are dazzling. The energy of the circus tent and buzz from the bleachers brings up the goose bumps. The chrome is gleaming, her body waxed to a mirror finish, perhaps looking the best she ever has behind the velvet rope. These and other aspects, though, can determine whether you end up with an incredible car for a paltry price, or a tremendous case of heartburn at the end of the day. That’s why it’s critical to draw a battle strategy beforehand.
            Weeks in advance of attending an auction, it’s really important to do your homework. As outlined in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, a good General gets scouting reports and reviews his plan of attack. In advance of going into action at an auction, carefully consider what type of car you are trying to buy and the ultimate purpose of that car.
            In addition, take a candid inventory of both what you know and don’t know about making an educated purchase. Your ability to prepare and your willingness to walk away from the wrong situation can determine success or failure. You’re on a conquest and everyone else with a bidder’s pass or a seller’s slip is the adversary. Even the auction house is a fortress of divided loyalty.
            “As an auction house we are in an interesting position,” admits Dana Mecum, owner of Mecum Auction Inc. “We are there to get the seller the best price (for his car) and also want to the buyer to feel he got a fair deal.”

Next Time, Part 2 "The Calculations"

Monday, May 26, 2014

(Finally) Being Allowed to Win, a soldier and his '71 HEMI GTX

(Finally) Being Allowed to Win, a soldier and his '71 HEMI GTX
by Patrick Krook

"You hid in that ditch because you think there's still hope. But Blithe, the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you're already dead, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you'll be able to function as a soldiers supposed to function. Without mercy. Without compassion. Without remorse. All war depends on it." ~Captain Ronald Speirs from E company 101st Airborne division, WWII Veteran featured in the Band of Brothers series.

Larry Michael Dickson was the kind of soldier Captain Ronald Speirs was referring to. Jumping out of helicopters and meeting the enemy fearlessly with utter resolve. He waged war in Vietnam as if he had nothing to lose, likely expecting never to return home. But he did. Dickson was experienced a different war and a different homecoming than Speirs did during World War II. Dickson was caught between two worlds, coming home from a war the American people didn't support and fighting for military leadership that would not allow them to achieve a clear victory.

Far from Life magazine shots of VJ Day, some Viet Nam solders returning, proud of their service and honoring their uniform would be shamed by chilly greeting and condemning looks from the civilians they swore an oath to protect. Earning two silver stars, seven bronze stars, four air medals, and a purple heart, there is no doubt Dickson honored his uniform and served faithfully.

Following his three tours in Viet Nam, how did this soldier readjust to daily life? Larry's answer was to buy a brand new 1970 Road Runner, recreating the adrenaline rush he got jumping out of Huey's to face the enemy. Sure that helped to blow off some steam, still something was missing.

In February, 1972 the Roadrunner found its way onto Courtesy Chrysler Plymouth just outside Sacramento. There on the lot, gleaming in Bahama Yellow, this 1971 GTX, HEMI 4spd. A quick survey of the factory options was enough for Larry to releive the budget minded Roadrunner of its duties. Festooned with every conceivable accessory including a sunroof, this HEMI powered Plymouth reminded him of the hardware he so proudly shown on his dress uniform. The original sticker price was a whopping $6,592.75, $300 more than a '71 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. Just as Dickson had been no ordinary soldier, this was no ordinary muscle car. Larry trading in the Roadrunner, paid $4,800 to become the car's second owner. Finally, Dickson got the rewarding homecoming all returning soldiers deserve. The GTX was a lot better that a kiss from some random nurse on a crowed street, for sure.

Larry immediately set to personalizing the already fully optioned GTX, installing 12.5:1 pistons, Crane can, headers, and other “day two” mods popular in the day. Combat veteran Dickson was finally allowed to win, rewarding the man he needed to become in order to function faithfully as a soldier. The first year of Dickson's ownership, he logged over 29,000 clicks on the odometer. By the end of '74 she read 39,000.

The car was Larry's pride and joy, an unabashed expression of raw power, dripping in glorious muscle car flair, and driven stubbornly for 10,000 miles during the '73 OPEC embargo, as if to defy the newest enemy. This GTX was a proud reflection of the man himself. Never driven in the rain, never allowed to get dirty, always squared away just like the soldier. Why then was she parked in 1981, abandoned until his passing in 2009.

The answer lies in the wound undiscovered by his closest friends until the car was unearthed for sale in 2010. The driver's side door had been caved in. Tragically, what happened to Larry Dickson is shared by many veterans trying to readjust to civilian life. Things a soldier needs to live without, a man needs to thrive at home. After coming home to find no mercy, little compassion, and difficult to deal with the remorse, Larry turned to alcohol for relief. One night in 1981, while intoxicated, he lost control of the HEMI GTX ans slid into a pole, denting the driver's side door. Once he got home, Larry was so disheartened and ashamed at what he had done, he vowed never to drive the car again. He never told his friends about the damage. It was only after his death that anyone outside his family found out what had happened. His buddies, who had been with him on many a wild ride, were stunned to see the dent in the door.

Like many scars sustained in battle, they are a reminder of the cost of being wounded and also that we have healed. That door dent ultimately lead this car to be in the tremendous state of preservation we currently appreciate today. If one soldier had not sought to reward himself for his brave service the way his country did not when he returned home, we would not have the opportunity to honor him for both today.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chrysler's at Carlisle 2013

Hello! Check out this photoblog of all the fun we had at Chrysler's at Carlisle 2013 with Tim at The Wellborn Musclecar Museum.  This year we showed off the The Last Hemi Charger and the Highest Serial Number Hemi Charger. Thanks for all who joined us! Enjoy. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Yenko that Harrell Built


The Yenko that Harrell Built

by Patrick Krook
Photography: Geoff Stunkard /

Super Chevy Magazine called this car, YS-739, "one of the rarest and most valuable Yenko Super Camaros in existence." 

      Much has been written about this Yenko.  Super Chevy Magazine called this car, YS-739, "one of the rarest and most valuable Yenko Super Camaros in existence." The car is published in 11 other nationally circulated magazines; most recently featured in the book "Camaro" by David Newhardt, released January 2013.  According to Don Yenko's wife, Hope, "Carroll Shelby was on person Don really looked up to. In fact, Don wanted to become the Carroll Shelby of General Motors products." Carroll had first approached Chevrolet about building a special edition Corvette in the early 1950's, but he just didn't speak their language. Don had witnessed the success with the Shelby Cobra and the Shelby GT350 Mustang. Learning of the upcoming big block powered '67 Shelby GT500, Don figured he could do the same, albeit on a smaller scale.

"Imagine if Jimi Hendrix designed a guitar for you and Leo Fender built it. What could beat that?"

'67 Yenko and the '67 Shelby GT500 share some significant parallels. Both were upfitted by the tuner with performance engines not normally available on the model. Each was hand converted and race prepped by racing legends. While Mustang was on its first refresh, Camaro was an entirely new model in 1967. Don Yenko had already been tuning street cars and begun racing 427 powered Corvettes by 1967. He enlisted the help of "Mr. Chevrolet" himself, Dick Harrell, to convert the first 20 or so 396 equipped Camaros into Corvette 427 powered fire-breathing "Super Camaro 450's". When Don received an order from western area of his network of authorized Chevy dealerships, he would then order all the parts necessary for the up fit through his own dealership and have them sent to the Dick Harrell Speed Shop for installation.  This one was ordered through Burt Chevrolet in Englewood, CO.

Before the speed shop got their hands on it, this Camaro started life as an "SS " packaged, 396/375hp (4K- code), 4spd Muncie M21, 12 bolt posi (4.10), Butternut Yellow, Black standard interior.  The Harrell paperwork shows the labor for converting the car to a 450 Super Camaro installing: L72 427c.i. engine assembly, Stewart Warner gauges, M/T headers, R/C bell housing, Autolite spark plug wires, and the Traction Master Traction bars. So, if the car was a 427 Corvette powered pony car, why was it called the "Super Camaro 450"? Well, 450's were manual shift cars (automatics received the "410" moniker) to denoting the NHRA horsepower rating for each model. Actual horsepower was on the order of 500+ horsepower.

Like the early rear trunk battery '65 Shelby GT350's, the early Yenko Camaros were setup by professional racers for the general public to go racing right out of the box. Dick Harrell spent the 1960's taking the NHRA & AHRA by storm, not just as a driver, but also as mechanic and crew chief. In early 1967 when you bought a Yenko Super Camaro 450, you were getting "Mr. Chevrolet" as your personal mechanic. Imagine if Jimi Hendrix designed a guitar for you and Leo Fender built it. What could beat that?

Changes in 1968 production moved exclusively to Yenko's dealerships. In many ways, '68 was a simplified product, a cost cutting effort much the same as the AO Smith built '68 Shelby GT500 was as compared to the '67 hand built in California by Shelby American. Yenko would order L78 396 equipped cars, then the dealership would simply substitute the 396 for the 427 short block, swapping over the original heads, intake manifold, carb, and accessories. Harrell was no longer part of the organization and dealership mechanics were paid $140 for each conversion, working as quickly as possible to complete one per day. In addition to the Corvette L72 Motor, also gone for '68 was the fiberglass "stinger" hood.

"This car is extremely rare with very few, less than 20, known to exist. Of those only 4 are documented to be converted by Dick "Mr. Chevrolet" Harrell." 

Don Yenko was not as mindful of branding as Carroll Shelby was. For 1967 he did incorporate Corvette styling into the Super Camaro with a specially made fiberglass "stinger" hood found on the 427 big block model along with the appropriate 427 fender call outs and a single "Yenko" shield floating in the grill. A full compliment of Yenko badges, stripes and head rest decals wouldn't appear until 1969 when the Yenko S/C evolved into a sticker package for the COPO. While 1969 was the styling nexus for Camaro, the '67 Super Camaro was the most historically significant Yenko. Hand built, race bred, and game changing, akin to the coveted '65 GT350R models. Not only did the '67's force GM to re-evaluate their engine offerings, it lead directly to the COPO program that lead to thousands of 427 powered Camaros to compete on drag strips and the streets all across America. The Yenko S/C went from standing for "Super Camaro" to standing for an enlite class of American muscle, the "Super Car".

YS-739 was purchased by the owner in July 2008 and finished the restoration in June 2009. The work is photo documented, showing she still wears her original quarter panels, roof, and floor pans. NOS sheet metal used where replacement was needed. Any and all components are correct date coded with factory part numbers. The original paperwork documenting the car includes 2 copies of parts order from Yenko, labor invoice from Harrell, and invoice from Yenko selling the car to Burt Chevrolet, Englewood, CO; this is stapled to the yellow and pink Yenko work orders.

This restoration was completed to the highest standards, concours by any measure. Awards include:

• American Camaro Assoc. "Legends Certification"
• MCACN Day Two Concours "Diamond Award" 992-1000 pts.
• "Gold Spinner Concours" 998-1000 pts.
• Good Guys "Muscle Car of the Year Finalist" Kansas City Sept/2009 and Loveland, Co June/2010
• Super Chevy Show /Denver "Gold Class" and "Best Paint" both 2010 and 2011

The car has appeared in 11 different magazine issues and featured in April/2010 issue of "Muscle Car Enthusiast". The car also lends its legacy to David Newhardt's latest hardcover release, "Camaro" on the shelves since January 2013.  If that weren't enough, the car has been "Certified Original" by Larry Christensen, a well-known Camaro judge and restorer, with complete inspection report both before and after restoration. This car is extremely rare with very few, less than 20, known to exist. Of those only 4 are documented to be converted by Dick "Mr. Chevrolet" Harrell. Especially collectible with the documentation, restoration quality, and judging credentials this car has. This is one of the most well documented '67 Yenkos known; most others don't have the full complement of paperwork like this, let alone the judging pedigree.

There is no doubt that this Super Camaro has it all, impeccably restored, remarkably rare, and certainly iconic. So what did Carroll Shelby think of Don Yenko? Bob McClurg asked the man himself for his book 'Yenko',"Don Yenko was a damned good race car driver!...I admired Don Yenko...I always enjoyed sitting around and talking with him. It's really sad that the guy dies so early in life because he was so darned talented."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Find What Drives You...10 Years Later

The proud new owner of 1970 Challenger R/T HEMI, one of three
documented Shaker hood 4speeds, during 2009 Mopars at the Strip.
Being 15 years old for me brought with it a long walk, 3 miles each way in the dark to work a back to back close, then open shifts at my local McDonald's. Like most teenagers, I longed for a car, mostly to turn four hours of walking between shifts into 5 minutes of driving. But it was those daily journeys that lit my fire for muscle cars.  About two-thirds of the way to work on a long stretch of road between neighborhoods, was a small gray house with a detached garage that opened with a single panel overhead door. Inside and parked around the yard, loitering like barn cats were '67 – '70 Mercury Cougars. No matter the time of night or how early in the morning I walked by, the light in that garage was on usually accompanied by sounds of the Steve Miller Band eliminating from speakers too small for such a large space. One day I was walking by after an open shift and hear the same music bleeding into the street from the open garage. So, I decided to walk in. The trajectory of my life changed.

The gray house and garage were owned by a Ford mechanic that spent most waking off hours restoring his old Cougars. I found out that he had been wrenching on them since he was a boy my age at the time. He taught me how to evaluate a good car and spot problems. I brought my first car, a '79 Mercury Capri to him and he showed me how to maintain it.  He even taught me how to do an alignment with little more than pickle bar, some chalk and a tape measure. That is where I learned, not just desire to own a cool muscle car, but the ideal of being the current caretaker of these vintage vehicles.

Photographing a collection of Shelby's in front of the Eiffel Tower
Paris, France 2010
From there I had rescued, wrenched, and driven everything from vintage Mopars, to Mustangs, and GTO's. Each car was an learning experience, and not always a positive one. There is little in this world worse than being taken advantage of with something you are passionate about.

I started Show Your Auto LLC in 2003 after a career as an Executive Recruiter within the Information Technology sector during the "tech-boom" that began in the mid-90's. The subsequent “dot-bomb” bust lead me to downsize my life, selling our first house and liquidating my modest car collection. As an I.T. Recruiter and Consultant, I taught companies to use best practices in marketing and selection so they could build high-performance teams in mission critical business units. My greatest personal satisfaction in my recruiting career was finding the people who were both talented and passionate about their work.

Myself and Sheikh Ali Abulla Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa (to my right),
his family and a pair of Englishmen, Robert (far right) and
Gerrad (far left).
Starting Show Your Auto was an opportunity for me to the same for myself, to marry his skills honed in the business world with my God given passion for automobiles which began in the gray garage with the big overhead door. The problem, however, was that I was busted flat, living in a four flat apartment, and underemployed. My uncle heard of my plans to bootstrap an online automobile brokerage and offered to help by giving me a 1967 Buick Wildcat, that was brown and rust. There was only one condition, I could not keep it. Selling the car for $750, that was the seed money I used to start

Since then, my work has taken me around the world. I've driven a Shelby collection through the street s of Paris, sold cars to Arab Royalty, and handled the sale of some of the rarest muscle cars ever to have been produced. What I've learned from that Ford mechanic as a young man still holds true today. To pursue and purchase a rare collectable car is not merely a buying choice, or even just an investment decision, this is about fulfilling a heart's desire. If you're like me and so many that I've meant along the journey, it is one that has been there since you were a boy. 2013 will be the 10th anniversary of my business and the best is yet to come.