Live-ish From The Mecum Geneva Lake Auction – More Spectators Than Bidders?

Today was the much anticipated 2011 Geneva Lake Antique and Classic Boat Auction presented by Mecum Auctions. The auction was under the big tent at the Abbey Resort in conjunction with the 36th Annual ACBS International Meeting & Boat Show in Fontana, Wisconsin.

Mecum Auctions is one of the leading auction companies in the country and regardless of what they are selling, the organization and presentation at their events is always top cabin. However at today’s antique and classic boat auction, from the results, there appeared to be more spectators than serious bidders with only 30% of the listed boats being sold. We don’t have the exact numbers and these are subject to change, as there are always a few more sales negotiated after the auction is completed, but approximately 70 boats went across the block today, with around 24 lots sold.

The top seller at today’s auction was a 1955 18′ Chris-Craft Cobra which sold for 75K. Second top seller was a 1975 Magnum 28′ fiberglass classic which sold for 47K. And the third top selling boat of the day was a very nice 1966 28′ Lyman Sportsman which hammered at 39,500.00.  Early in the auction, the tent was packed with people, with almost standing room only during the peak of the auction, but with only limited bidding activity. 

Many of the higher valued boats at today’s auction did not sell, as bidding stalled and fell short of the reserves. For example, bidding reached 250K on “Miss Arrowhead” a 1940 27′ Chris-Craft Triple Cockpit Racing Runabout but she did not sell. Lot #169 a big 1956 26′ Chris-Craft Continental bid up to 140K with no sale. “Marry Sunshine” a well known 1941 19′ Chris-Craft Custom Barrelback reached 65K or 70K but did not reach it’s reserve price.

“Papas Dream” a rare 1929 Gar Wood 28′ Baby Gar (shown below) stalled at 115K and didn’t appear to come close to it’s reserve. Usually in an auction setting like this, if the auctioneer senses that they are close to the undisclosed “Reserve” price for the lot, every effort will be made to bridge the price between the seller and bidder to make the sale. But today, on some of the higher priced boats, the difference between what the bidders were prepared to offer and the seller’s reserves appeared to be too great it some cases.

Below, Lot# U150 a 1937 Ventnor 18′ Racing Runabout with Lycoming power received bids up to 115K – but no sale.

This very nice 1930 Chris-Craft 26′ Triple Cockpit Runabout (below) powered by a rare A-120 high performance engine also reached 115K and then stalled not meeting reserve. A few of the boats that were originally sold at the big Warner Auction last October, such as “Queen”, “Wee Don” & “Snoop” also crossed the block today, but were not sold.

A 1939 19′ Chris-Craft Custom Barrelback (Lot U161) sold for 32,500.00 and a 1936 Gar Wood 16′ Split Cockpit Runabout
(Lot U162) sold for 22,500.00.

This Century project boat sold at auction for around 800.00 today, so somebody has a winter restoration project to work on.

You can see the results for today’s Mecum Genava Lake Auction auction by clicking here or by going to their website at


13 replies
  1. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    I just returned home towing a boat in a driving rain, but was at the earlier part of the auction and concur that many boats were not selling because the bidding stalled out. The boats were all displayed outside the tent area for the 3 days prior to today. But my impression is that Mecum does not do a very good job of passing along information on the boats as they cross the block. True – if you are going to bid on some of the examples Texx sighted – you should do your homework. But I think we had a seller’s market today and a lot of seller’s were doing their best to shore up the market. I talked with the owner of the ’67 Century Resorter with only 70 original hours on it (auction had it listed as 90 in error) and his feeling was if he didn’t get his reserve the boat was going home again. I think a lot of the sellers were going for high bucks today and if they got maximum for the boat – great. If not; home it goes. I rather suspect Mecum took a loss on this one.

  2. RiverRat
    RiverRat says:

    Boat owners often think that their boat is worth more than others think. No one who has ever owned a wood boat and put it into good shape or not has gotten their money back out. It is a rare thing indeed. Even plastic boats lose value quickly. Face it. Boating is an expensive hobby that you must love and know the B. O. A. T. is always emptying your wallet. Plus the economy is in the bilge. Take your boat home and enjoy it or give it to someone who will for a price that works for them. Face the reality of your former decision.

  3. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    I thought some of the bidding on the better boats was reasonably strong. I think seller expectations might be out of alignment with reality in some cases. The premium boats attracted some decent bids, but it must be disappointing for Mecum to see so few boats sell.

  4. brian
    brian says:

    IMO, most of the sellers knew that their chances of selling their crafts this go around was going to be slim what with the market in the crapper.

    Unless facing a financial need, the sellers most likely had the attitude that if their boat sold, then great and if it didn’t, then no big whoop. In other words, they were not going to give their boat away.

    On the buyers end, a few no doubt were hoping to cash in on getting a better deal to take advantage of a desperate seller, but with few of those, the buyers had no choice but to watch.

    Mecum no doubt hoped for a better result, but they are most likely please that they made enough cash to keep their doors open long enough to wait for better times.

    No surprises here.

  5. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    Several of the boats had been for sale elsewhere. The 25′ triple was a nice boat. Should have been bid higher. Antique Boat Center has it listed for $135K Someone snagged a 26′ Continental for under $20K and the hard top was a no sale at $140K

    • Frank Miklos
      Frank Miklos says:

      Jim the 26 Continental that sold for under 20 was right where it should have been… It needed a complete re-plank… it had rot at the but joints all over the hull… To make that boat a 100K+ boat would cost nearly the 80K if not 100K.

      It looked better than a gray boat but it was not much better in the big scheme of things…

      The owner of the 26 with the hard top should have not taking 140k was a fool… That boat did not have great hull sides either. There may have been some rot it that boat also ….

  6. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    There were boats where the reserve was way too high… Boats that had a reasonable or realistic reserve sold. Boats that had an unreal reserve did not…

    (There were a few exceptions )

    Seemed to be plenty of money willing to buy… But it was not stupid money. (for the most part)…

  7. Matt B
    Matt B says:

    It appears sellers thought they would get top dollar at an auction, so reserves where hgh. But that isn’t going to happen, you have to take into account the commissions everyone is paying on top of the bid price.

  8. Frank Miklos
    Frank Miklos says:

    Just looking at the photos again of the 26 Chris Craft continental with the hardtop… there was actually a lot of dark wood in the bow… It may or may not be rot. but the 140 k was very poor bidding on the buyers part… These bids were not smart money… If you look at the link you can see all of the dark wood… This boat also appears to need re-planking… So 140K bidding was stupid money! That boat is not a 200k boat finished…

Comments are closed.