Classic Car Watch
Before & After - Mecum Indianapolis (May 13-18, 2014)

NOTE: This column displays cars I have found on the Internet. I am not selling them. Please follow the links if you are interest in a car. Be mindful of the date this article was published. For an explanation why I do this read the original column here.

August 1, 2014
By Scott Lewis

This month's column was the results of one of my readers. I was asked for my opinion of a car for sale at the Dana Mecum's 27th Original Spring Classic 2014 in Indianapolis (May 13-18, 2014).

I had a couple of columns "in the can" so I waited until now to publish this information. The car in question was this:

Lot S94 - 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, AACA Grand National

It is rare that I look at cars in this price range... because I am poor as dirt. But I took on the challenge. Since this was my first time estimating a car in this price range... I decided to treat this exercise as if I were going to go to the auction with the intent to buy this car.

That meant not only did I have to price this award winning car, I needed to estimate as many cars that were similar, but went on the auction block before this car. The idea was (and what I told my reader) is to use the other estimates to "gauge the auction." Meaning, if my estimates were consistently low, then it would be likely I would be low for this car. If my estimates were consistently high, then we should expect this car to sell below my estimate.

Since the AACA Chevelle was going on the auction block on Saturday... we have two full days of auction to gauge. Some of the cars below had an estimate from Mecum. I was not about to second guess them (or maybe I will), so I printed their estimate when they provided one. Let's see what cars I found to see how the auction faired.

Lot T211 - 1970 Chevelle SS 396

  • Forest Green with Dark Green interior
  • Bucket seats
  • Matching numbers 396/350 HP engine
  • Build sheet
  • Turbo 400 automatic transmission
  • Power steering
  • Power brakes
  • F41 suspension
  • 3.31 rear end
  • Show quality ground-up restoration

Scheduled: Thursday
Mecum's Estimate: $40-$60K

High Bid: $39,000

Post Auction Notes: Mecum's estimate seemed pretty good to me, so I left it alone. I am a little surprised this car didn't break $40K.

Lot F121 - 1970 Chevelle SS 454

- Black on Black with White stripes
- Numbers matching LS5 454/360 HP engine
- M22 4-speed transmission
- Documented with Protect-O-Plate and original owner's manual
- Factory air conditioning
- Power brakes
- Power steering
- Remote driver's mirror
- Bucket seats
- AM radio
- Goodyear Polyglass tires
- Correct T3 headlights
- Correct exhaust system

Scheduled:  Friday @ 2:05 PM.
Notes: This is 454 (better than a 396), but not an award winner. Still, I think it will go for quite a bit.
Scott's Estimate: $70-80K

High Bid: $55,000

Post Auction Notes: I am surprised this car did not go higher. Though I am not surprised it did not sell if the bidding stalled at only $55K. It is worth more than that... so it just needs to keep looking for the right buyer. Maybe $65K would have gotten it off reserve.

Lot F136.1 - 1970 Chevelle SS 454 Convertible

- LS6 454/450 HP
- 4 speed transmission
- Cowl induction hood
- Power convertible top
- AM/FM radio
- No expense spared nut and bolt restoration
- SS wheels
- Correct Polyglass tires
- Comfort grip steering wheel
- Tachometer

Scheduled:  Friday @2:40 PM

Notes: Seems like a very desirable car.
Scott's Estimate: $75-$90K

Sold Price: $98,000

Post Auction Notes: A little more than I would have liked, but I was pretty close. If you were planning to attend you would have to decide before going how much you would be willing to "bend" your pre-auction estimate. In this case, it would not be by much. At the top end I only missed by 8.8% (which is pretty close to sales tax).

Lot F182 - 1970 Chevelle SS 396

- Matching numbers 396/350 HP engine
- 400 Turbo automatic transmission
- Fresh frame-off rotisserie nut and bolt restoration with 30 miles since
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Cowl induction
- One build sheet
- One partial build sheet
- Bucket seats with console
- Rebuilt title

Scheduled: Friday
Notes: I am getting a strange vide from this car. I have to put that on the rebuilt title. I don't think it will go for much. Probably a lot less than a frame-off rotisserie nut and bolt restoration would cost.
Scott's Estimate: Under $50K.

Sold Price: $36,000

Post Auction Notes: I am not at all surprised. Granted... this is the perfect car for a collector on a budget. At this price you could drive -- and enjoy -- this car without hurting its value much.

Lot F193 - 1970 Chevelle SS 396 Conv

- Restoration finished in January 2014
- Rebuild has less than 3,000 miles
- L89 style 396 big block Chevy, Winters aluminum heads and intake
- Holley 750 double pumper carburetor,
- Electronic Stinger ignition
- dual exhaust with 2 1/2" Mandrel bent exhaust and Flowmasters
- New radiator, pulleys, heater core, fan motor, windshield wiper motor washer pump
- Engine compartment is correctly detailed
- Power steering and power disc brakes
- Muncie M21 4-speed
- Upgraded GM performance clutch
- Hurst competition plus shifter
- 12 bolt Positraction rear with 4.10 gears
- Original frame
- Two-stage PPG Jet Black paint with White stripes
- Functional cowl induction hood with pins
- Re-chromed original bumpers
- New windshield glass, Black top and top boot
- New SS mags with new ring caps and BF Goodrich tires
- Factory T3 headlights
- New Black interior with AM/FM/iPod radio
- Power windows, tilt steering, power convertible top and comfort grip steering
- New dashboard and new dash pad

Scheduled: Friday @ 4:30 PM.
Notes: This car has aftermarket parts, so should sell for less. But it does look very nice.
Scott's Estimate: $50-65K

Sold Price: $72,000

Post Auction Notes: I was off buy a tick over 10%. I could see this being a passion thing. A cool head would have stopped a little sooner in the bidding.

Lot F204 - 1970 Chevelle SS 454

- Professional frame-off nut and bolt restoration by Nostalgia Lane in Rockford, IL
- Finished to Van Nuys, California factory specifications over 2 years and 8 months
- Over $100,000 invested in restoration
- Just 237 miles on restoration
- Rebuilt factory replacement LS5 454/360 HP engine including pollution pump
- Correct Cranberry Red with Black SS stripes
- Added Black vinyl top
- M22 Rock Crusher 4-speed transmission
- 3.90 Positraction rear axle
- Cowl induction
- Bucket seats and console
- SS wheels with Firestone polyglas white letter F70/14 tires
- SS tachometer and gauge package
- Soft tinted glass with date code
- Current owner purchased in 2007 in Illinois
- GM produced 4,298 LS5 1970 cars which was more rare that the 4,475 LS6 cars
- Documented by Chevelle Stuff and Team Chevelle

Scheduled: Friday
Notes: When I made my prediction for this car, there was very little info on Mecum's site. Afterwards there was a lot of information. I did not know this had a $100K restoration, but did know it was very nice looking and did not have the original motor. So I originally thought it would stall at $60K. Having read the new information (that would have been posted a few days - at least - before the auction) I think Mecum's estimate was pretty good.
Mecum's Estimate: $60-$75K

Sold Price: $75,000

Post Auction Notes: I can only be disappointed in myself for not having a better guess. But this is why this car is here... for us to gauge how cars are going at the auction based on as much information as we can get. If I had attended this auction I would have had every piece of info I could get my hands on... and have a phone or tablet with me to do research on the spot.

Lot S176 - 1970 Chevelle SS 454

- Mostly original and unrestored
- Original drivetrain
- 454/450 HP engine
- Automatic transmission
- 4.10 rear axle
- Forest Green paint
- Delivered new in Anchorage, Alaska
- Build sheet
- Title history back to day 1

Scheduled: Saturday
Notes: I think Mecum's estimate is a high... but who am I too argue with the experts.
Mecum's Estimate: $100K - $125K

Sold Price: $71,000

Post Auction Notes: Again... not surprised it did not get to $100K. It just didn't seem worth it to me. Granted... this might be the ticket someday as original unrestored cars are gaining status. Remember, you can only be original once!

The Estimate - The moment you have been waiting for...

Enough stalling... you want to know about the intended car, our AACA Grand National Chevelle.

Lot S94 - 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS

- AACA Grand National
- Documented with 3 build sheets
- Original Protect-O-Plate
- Copy of original owner title
- 996 point National show car
- Original matching numbers 396/350 HP engine
- Matching numbers M21 4-speed transmission
- Original matching numbers CW rear
- Power steering
- Power disc brakes
- Rear defogger
- Factory AM 8-Track radio
- Remote side mirror
- F41 suspension
- Soft Ray tinted glass
- G94 3.31 ratio axle
- Very rare code 78 Black Cherry paint
- Original sheet metal
- Body-off restoration to concourse standards
- Multiple show winner

Scheduled: Saturday
Notes: Wow... a very nice car indeed. The 396 will keep the price down compared to a 454, but the quality will keep the price up. My estimate to my reader was $60K- $75K.
Scott's Estimate: $60K- $75K

Sold Price: $70,000

Post Auction Notes: Nailed It!!! Because I was a little low on a couple of cars above... had I been at this auction I would have raised my range by $5 or $10K. I still would have been in the range.


I never did hear back from my reader after the auction. Given the price range I gave him if he went to the auction hoping to get the car for $60-75K he should have bought it.

It is time to start looking at this auction thing more seriously. I have looked at 3 auctions already, and Mecum is having an auction in Dallas in September. I plan to look that auction over. However, this time when I set my "budget" it will have to include all the little things... like bidder's registration fee, buyers fee, sales tax, etc. Look for that in October if all goes well.