Austin auto auction to be televised nationally
More than 600 classic cars will be sold off in downtown Austin this weekend as part of a nationally televised auction.
The auction, scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Austin Convention Center, marks the first time Mecum Auctions has visited Austin.
Admission is $20 per person. Children 12 and under are admitted free.
The company typically conducts about a dozen auto auctions each year in large cities such as Dallas and Houston, according to CEO Dave Magers. It also holds a handful of auctions each year for motorcycles and antique tractors.
Mecum had skipped Austin in the past because it doesn’t have a large enough convention center, Magers said, but the company has been experimenting this year with smaller-scale auctions where about 600 vehicles are sold instead of the usual 1,000.
“There are only so many convention centers that are big enough to let us do what we do,” he said. “This new business model is allowing us to get into smaller cities and convention centers. We’ll be packed in there, wall to wall.”
While there will be a variety of cars up for grabs, Magers said Mecum focuses primarily on American muscle cars from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Mecum relies on a team of consignment agents to track down many of the cars it sells.
One of the cars to be sold this weekend is a 1967 Corvette convertible originally owned by astronaut Gus Grissom, the company said. A 1967 Mustang used in the 2000 remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds” will go on the auction block, as well.
“These cars are very unique, very exotic, very collectible and very expensive,” Magers said. “I like to say these are either the car you had in high school – or the car you wish you’d had in high school.”
The entire event will be live-streamed on mecum.com and portions of the auction will be televised both Friday and Saturday on the NBC Sports Network, which airs in about 80 million homes. In Austin, the network is available on most cable and satellite TV lineups, including Time Warner Cable, the area’s dominant provider.
Mecum has been televising its auctions for several years, Magers said. They initially aired on Discovery’s Velocity network for six years before moving to the higher profile NBC Sports Network as part of a three-year deal with a pair of one-year renewal options.
Viewership has steadily been increasing, Magers said, with ratings up about 400 percent in recent months. So far this year, he said 19.2 million unique viewers have tuned in to the NBC Sports Network broadcasts.
“You don’t have to be ready to buy or sell a car to get something out of our shows,” Magers said. “Where else can you get a look at more than 600 unique cars in one spot?”