People watching at the Mecum Spring Classic

Late in the afternoon it began to rain, hard. I was spent after eight hours on my feet photographing the cars at the 2013 Mecum Spring Classic, but I didn’t want to walk a quarter of a mile in a downpour to get to my car. So I made one more pass through the giant West Pavilion to see if I had overlooked anything.

I had. I was so focused on the cars that I didn’t really see everyone else looking at them. So I got my camera back out and began to photograph people.

The joint was crawling with men middle-aged and older. The women and younger men I saw either came with a car-crazy man, or worked for Mecum or for the fairgrounds.

People at the Mecum auction

We dreamed of cars like these when we were young. I overheard many of these men telling tall tales about the car they owned, or a car like the one before them that a friend owned, or the car they settled for because they could afford it.

People at the Mecum auction

You’d think that these cars would make us all feel young and lighthearted again, yet so many brows were furrowed and lips were pursed or downturned. Encounters with valuable cars like these are rare, and when they do happen it’s usually at a distance in a museum. Yet here we were, so close to these cars we could reach right out and touch them.

People at the Mecum auction

Not that we should touch them, of course. They belong to other people and represent very large investments. Still, I saw men casually resting against these cars. A few even opened doors, and I saw one man get in a car and sit behind the wheel! I wanted to tell them all off. They had no business unless they owned the car or were bidding on it.

People at the Mecum auction

Those hoping to buy hung their bidder numbers off their necks with lanyards. They had deep pockets in common; these cars start at about $20,000, many go for more than $100,000, and a few go for upwards of a million dollars. Many of the bidders were gregarious and spoke to me about the cars we looked at, while others moved silently about the cars, lost deep in thought.

People at the Mecum auction

But most of us just came to see what we could see. The Mecum Spring Classic focuses on muscle cars from the ’60s and early ’70s, but it a real smorgasbord. The abundant variety of cars seemed endless.

People at the Mecum auction


7 responses to “People watching at the Mecum Spring Classic”

  1. traveller858 Avatar

    This series of blogs have reminded me that during my annual visits to the Sates I get hooked on the Car Auction Programme on one of your many TV stations. We just don’t do programmes like it in the UK. The yellow of the Vet is striking.

    1. Jim Avatar

      Isn’t that yellow something? My Canon S95 captured it well. The S95 is incapable of rendering purple, though; it always turns out blue.

      The Mecum auction is broadcast on some cable channel. I don’t have cable, so I never see it. I don’t have time to watch that much TV!

  2. Carole Avatar

    Interesting view of people. Yes, most deep in thought or taking in/talking about “the” car.
    The striking aspect was the view of the car along with the person. Nice. And, yes, I especially liked the yellow vet too.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was surprised people weren’t more animated! “Oh wow, look, I haven’t seen one of these in years!!” But nope.

      1. Carole Avatar


  3. pesoto74 Avatar

    I enjoyed reading this series of posts and seeing the images. I have only noticed in the last few years how many things that I was around to see when they were new are now vintage. Have you ever heard of Harry Rinker? I remember him writing more than once that a collectable usually achieves its greatest value when it is an item that makes an older prosperous person feel that he is buying back a part of his youth. I suppose many of these cars would be in that category.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m glad you enjoyed this series. My blog stats fell off steadily all week, so clearly my audience doesn’t care much about cars. Given that the men who were buying cars that day had to be prosperous, it lends credence to what Harry Rinker once said.

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