Las Vegas vintage car show is a sight to behold


Written by:

Cars were streaming into the upper level of the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center when I visited the site of the Mecum Auction on Wednesday afternoon. The first of them crossed the block around 10 a.m. on Thursday. By late afternoon/early evening Saturday, some 1,000 collector vehicles had paraded across the auction block in front of bidders.

Although the auction company has been staging motorcycle sales at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa for years, and even handled the sale of a private museum’s car collection a few years ago, this is only its second annual collector car sale in the city that puts New York to shame when it comes to never sleeping. 

As has become typical for Mecum these days, the main attractions consist of both cars from major collections and modern super cars… Though there’s a shift in the docket for Las Vegas. Instead of an array of contemporary muscle machines, there is simply one spectacular one: The 2012 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sports 16.4 that, in 2011, was showcased on the company’s stand at the Frankfurt Motor Show. 

The car wears a bright and brilliant shade of red, has been driven 6,060 miles since it rolled off the show stand at Frankfurt and — get this — recently underwent a full service that cost a “mere” $150,000 (and you thought your last oil change was expensive).


SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.





Regarding the private collections, there are six on the docket, but two of them are overwhelming in both numbers and scope. The estate of the late Ardell Brown is offering more than 130 of the cars he collected. Additionally, the Academy of Art University of San Francisco is revamping its collection into a public museum, offering 52 predominantly pre-war classics at the auction. 

My assignment Wednesday was to walk among the cars in South Hall and select at least half a dozen that I’d want for my own collection. 

Actually, I could have easily just selected six of the Academy of Art cars and been thrilled, but that’s not the point of this exercise. Doing this would also belie the scope of the auction docket. So, I tried to span the cars on offer while selecting those that appeal most to me for whatever quirky reason.

Image Credit:

1940 LaSalle Special Series convertible coupe

There are more expensive cars in the Academy of Art University Collection, but this 1940 LaSalle convertible kept drawing me back for another look… And another. The car features a champagne gold metallic exterior, a Burgundy leather interior and red wheels. The car is one of 425 produced in 1940 and its pre-sale estimated value is $70,000 to $90,000. Not expensive, but I cannot imagine being anything but proud to be seen driving it.

Image Credit:

1935 Pierce-Arrow Model 1245 Silver Arrow

The Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow was one of the world’s first concept cars, a dream machine showcased at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. From 1934-36, Pierce-Arrow produced Silver Arrow cars with some of the concept vehicle-styling cues, including the high-mounted (but narrow) rear windows. This 1935 example, part of the Academy of Art collection, has won awards at concours and a first prize from the Classic Car Club of America.

Image Credit:

1934 Pierce-Arrow Jenkins 12 replica

I’m no fan of replica or tribute cars, but I’d make an exception for this one from the Ardell Brown collection. It’s a replica of the record-breaking Ab Jenkins V12 Special that ran at Bonneville. It was completed in 2003 and was driven at 117 mph at the Bonneville salt flats. Jenkins drove the original, covering a record 2,710 miles in 24 hours at an average speed of 112.96 mph. He later went back to Utah and set a land speed record of 127.229. His son, Marvin, who was crew chief at the Bonneville effort in the 1930s, helped build this replica.

Image Credit:

1970 Checker Marathon cab

Forget Uber and Lyft. Opt instead for your own Checker taxi, especially this one from the Ardell Brown estate collection. Though its pre-sale estimated value is only $10,000-$15,000, this is no ordinary Checker cab. It has such performance upgrades as a 350-cid Chevrolet V8 with Edelbrock intake and 4-barrel carburetor, as well as aluminum wheels, a 9-inch Ford rear end, and power steering and brakes.

Image Credit:

1956 Pontiac Safari station wagon

Chevy had its Nomad, but Pontiac had its own 2-door wagon: The Safari. This one features two-tone teal and blue paint, a matching interior, wide whitewall tires with full wheel covers and a stunning airplane on its hood. It also sports 317-cid, Strato-Streak V8 and vacuum-assisted brakes. Its pre-sale estimate is $50,000 to $60,000.

Image Credit:

1953 Packard convertible

Another Brown collection car, this fender-skirted 1953 Packard convertible has a power top, 327-cid straight-8 engine, automatic transmission, Esa-A-Matic power brakes and, in Carolina Cream, looks like an ideal boulevard cruiser. I think I could follow that beautifully sculpted cormorant hood ornament pretty much anywhere.

Image Credit:

1949 Oldsmobile Futuramic 98 convertible

Yet another car from the Brown collection, this 1949 Olds was among the first to be equipped with the new Rocket V8 engine. It was thus one of Detroit’s first muscle cars. This one is equipped with a steering wheel knob that doubles as an Elvis Presley souvenir.

Image Credit:

1957 GMC pickup

The 4×4 pickup has been owned by the same California family since the truck was brand new. At some point, the family restored and upgraded the truck with a 350-cid Chevrolet V8, 700-R4 automatic transmission, air conditioning, power steering, custom exhaust, modern audio system, and a transfer case and automatic locking hubs from a Jeep Wrangler.

Image Credit:

1958 Morris Minor 1/4-ton pickup

I like pickup trucks, and this one is a cutie. It also wouldn’t take up a lot of space in the garage. It’s a 1958 Morris Minor that has undergone a complete restoration. It was also given a little performance boost with a 1,275-cc engine from an Austin-Healey Sprite, which in turn was equipped with a pair of SU carburetors. The car’s color is dove gray, the interior is covered with Newton commercial heat-pressed Cherokee vinyl, and the canvas cover for the bed was manufactured in Britain. Pre-sale estimated price is $20,000 to $25,000.

Image Credit:

1985 Chrysler LeBaron convertible

You’ve heard that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission. I think that’s the case with this 1985 Chrysler LeBaron. I know, I know. It’s just a tarted-up K Car. This one is gorgeous, though, even with its faux wood paneling. It also has factory air, power windows and a power top.

Image Credit:

1955 Chris-Craft 18-foot Cobra hull

Speaking of wood, this vehicle has real wood and would be a wonderful way to redeem myself from that ’85 LeBaron. This is a 1955 Chris-Craft 18-foot Cobra hull with a trailer. And a gorgeous tail fin. And its original Hercules KBL 131-horsepower, 6-cylinder engine. Back in 1955, it was the parade boat for the Tahoe Boat Company and was named “Gemalu,” though it’s now known as “Woody Cobra 001.”

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

Image Credit: