Mecum Auctions brings car show and more to Schaumburg
Mainly a Porsche guy, Bob Burnham is ultimately a car guy.
That's why the Elburn car collector found himself pretty enamored by a 1994 Mercedes-Benz with a unique emerald-color paint and only 6,504 miles on it Thursday inside the Schaumburg Convention Center.
"I'm just hunting," he said, never taking his eyes off the Mercedes with his head tilted in a way that clearly indicates he's found his prey.
It will be two more days before he has a chance to bid on it at Mecum Auctions' annual Chicago show, if he does at all.
"I made a list of all the cars I wanted to see that are available on each day," Burnham explained. "I'm going to spend the night at the hotel here Friday because I know I'm going to be tired of driving back and forth all three days."
Burnham is a veteran of car auctions, but he has a soft spot for the Walworth, Wisconsin-based Mecum.
"These auctions are really great," Burnham said. "I go to others they hold around the country and they're just not auctions anymore, but entertainment."
That's music to Mecum CEO Dave Magers' ears since the company has been busy adding attractions to the auctions, such as concerts, food specials, driving demonstrations and other events. The idea is to give veteran bidders something they might not get at other car auctions, as well as lure the eyeballs of someone who might not necessarily be interested in car auctions otherwise.
"Our brand was really well known to those who liked cars," Magers explained. "But if we can get you out for a concert or a tasting, next time you might come as a bidder, and we've seen that happen."
The Chicago show is one of Mecum's smaller events. Just three days long -- compared to the mammoth 12-day affair in Florida every year -- it still has plenty to offer.
Maybe it's an ultrarare sports car, or a vintage sedan your grandfather used to drive, or the truck featured in a horror movie that was stolen by a deranged killer, or even just the shell of the first car you ever drove. There's something for every level of gear head, and even things to do if you're not.
"We have actually made a conscious decision to push the entertainment aspect of these," Magers said. "We don't want people to think of these as just auctions. We want these to be events that have auctions."
Roughly 2,300 people are registered to bid on more than 1,000 vehicles throughout the weekend. The crème de la crème are featured during Saturday's action and include a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette SRIII with a chassis marked with the No. 1 serial number, a 1968 factory paint rally green Chevy Camaro, and a 1970 deep plum-colored Plymouth Barracuda with a Hemi engine. Saturday's auction will be televised on NBC Sports Network from 2 to 3:30 p.m., with airings later in the day and Sunday as well.
If you don't want to bid and you've got at least $3 million burning a hole in your pocket, Mecum is selling a 1947 Delahaye 135 Narval, one of seven built. The powder blue two-seater was originally owned by famed French singer-songwriter Charles Trenet.
If a rare French showpiece coach isn't your thing, maybe a two-tone brown 1990 Ford Bronco tied to one of the great horror movie franchises of all time is.
Brian Turner just thought he'd give back to his son the keys to the truck that producers of the last "Halloween" movie used in the first part of the film as antagonist Michael Myers' vehicle. Turner worked as the medical coordinator on the film when the director asked to borrow the truck for the movie.
But after filming wrapped, a friend suggested he contact Mecum about selling it at one the auctions along with some memorabilia from the film.
"I wanted to drive it out here from South Carolina to make it more of an adventure, but my wife wouldn't let me," Turner said.
The adventure ended Thursday for Turner when he sold the otherwise nondescript Bronco for almost $10,000.