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Mecum auction at Las Vegas Convention Center

The Mecum Las Vegas classic automobile auction is in the middle of a three-day show in the central hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Mecum Auctions, which is based in Walworth, Wisconsin, is drawing about 1,000 classic cars for the event, which is expected to generate $20 million to $25 million. The show started Thursday and runs through Saturday.

The show, in its third year in Las Vegas, will feature guitars and specimens of Road Art.

“We trademarked the word ‘Road Art,’ and it captures another category of the collector,” said David Morton, manager of event marketing and communications. “This is a very complete automobile auction.”

Bidders from about 40 states are attending the extravaganza with consigners and classic auto enthusiasts. They include husband-wife duos and father-son tandems. Many of the buyers are in their “gray hair” years and have money to spend. Mecum is expected to draw some 1,500 bidders over the three-day event.

The auction has American muscle cars such as an unrestored 1971 Dodge Hemi Challenger R/T and a 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona.

“This is one of our best fields ever,” Morton said. “Vegas is a great car town. … If you’re putting 1,000 cars together with a television audience and a lot of good cars together, that’s the reason to go to Vegas.”

The collection of domestic classic cars has several stops including Monterey, California, and Glendale, Arizona. Now, Las Vegas has become a part of an invaluable collection of both cars and bidders. Mecum is the largest collector-car auction company in the world.

Boosting this year’s show is the television broadcast coverage on NBC Sports Network that includes 13.5 hours with eight hours of live coverage.

Las Vegas’ 24-hour nonstop atmosphere sets the tone and works perfectly for participants and buyers who want a short vacation and chance to buy or sell classic domestic and import vehicles.

“The roots of our company are in the Midwestern United States,” Morton said. “All of Mecum’s sons are entrenched in the auction business. You won’t find a more wholesome group of people than those who own and operate Mecum Auctions.

“It’s a fun business, and we especially enjoy coming to Vegas where the participants and the onlookers really enjoy the atmosphere of the auctions. Many of our buyers are returnees who would make their reservations for Las Vegas far in advance.”

Among a long list of consigners at the event is William Fry, a former 747 pilot and a true car guy who hails from Henderson.

“I have gone to the auctions in Monterey and in Los Angeles,” said Fry, 78. “I usually sell at least one car every year. One year we sold four of them. There’s a little bit of everything available.”

Fry said he will be offering a 1954 Cadillac Eldorado during the auction.

“We’re also going to be looking around, you bet,” he said. “There are some great deals to be bought especially on expensive cars like a Bentley and the upper-end BMWs.”

Frye’s love of cars reaches back when he was 15 years of age in Toledo, Ohio.

“We had a 1946 Oldsmobile,” he said. “Back in those days, the junkyards would buy your old car for $25. I completely rebuilt the ’46 Oldsmobile, and I think it cost me $87.

“People like me — old guys — are getting older and dying off. It’s a great thrill to rebuild an old car.”

Morton said the demand is changing in Las Vegas, as the popularity of classic vehicles continues.

“While there are so many people who come from out of state to buy cars, the local presence of Las Vegas customers provides the strength of the foundation that we build on each year,” Morton said. “Bill is a great example of our customers who like to see the available product while appreciating the mystique of the business.”

Indeed, once the classic car bug gets into your system, it’s there for good.

Mecum Las Vegas 2019 is open to buyers, sellers and spectators. Bidder registration is available for $200. For more information, contact www.mecum.com.

Doors open at 7:30 a.m., and the road auction starts at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are available online or at the door.

Vehicles will start crossing the auction block at 10 a.m.

More information can be found by calling 262-275-5050.

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