Okay, not that Joan Kennedy! If you didn’t get a chance to watch the 2019 Mecum Kissimmee auction on Thursday, January 13th, you owe it yourself to view the emotional moment when Joan Kennedy of Witchita, Kansas sold her 1965 Pontiac GTO she and her late husband John owned since new. You can watch the moment by clicking here and fast-forwarding to 4:32:50 and a more detailed write up of the car from January 2014 can be found here on Hot Rod Network.

Here’s the background of Joan’s ’65 GTO (adapted from the Mecum Lot T129 description and Christopher R. Phillp’s Hot Rod Network article mentioned above):

Pontiacs have always been a part of Joan Kennedy’s life. Her grandfather was a Pontiac dealer in Kansas in the ’40s and early ’50s, and her husband John raced a 1960 Catalina. Consequently, it made sense then that shortly after they married in 1965, they ordered a new Pontiac. Not just any Pontiac, mind you, but a brand new GTO. “I think John wanted to get married so badly because I had the down payment for the car!” Joan exclaimed. “I told him no racing with this one, as it was a family car.”

John knew exactly what he wanted in his new GTO: the 389 Tri-Power V-8 equipped with transitorized ignition mated to a floor-shifted four-speed, Rally gauge cluster, and a 3.23 differential with Safe-T-Track. John also ordered the GTO with a nice mix of luxury options as well, including air conditioning, tilt wheel, console, accessory light group, and an AM radio with rear-seat speaker. 

The GTO became the family’s daily driver for upwards of a decade before it was put into long-term storage in the 1970s. While John long dreamed of restoring the GTO, he felt guilty about how much a restoration would have cost, and he never had the opportunity to realize his dream before his untimely passing in 2000, just days before his 60th birthday.

Partly feeling guilty that he hadn’t done it and partly as a tribute to her late husband, Joan Kennedy commissioned a full restoration of the GTO in 2001, which brought the car back into the impeccable condition that it remains in today. Classic Body Work in Peck, Kansas completed all body and paint work in 2002 and the car retains its original Protect-O-Plate, window sticker, and pre-delivery check sheet. Following the restoration, Joan drove her GTO on calm, sunny days and even earned a Silver Concours Award at the 2017 GTOAA National Meet.

Fast forward two years later and whatever Joan’s motivation was to sell her beloved GTO, Mecum Kissimmee 2019 was a horrible way to do it. Here are four reasons why:

  1. Why Kissimmee and not Kansas City?  If Joan and her GTO reside in Kansas City, why not try to sell the car at last December’s event held in her home town rather than have her incur the cost of shipping the GTO to Florida? As Guys With Rides pointed out in early December, Mecum had plenty of open lots at its December event, so that wasn’t an issue. More likely, Mecum convinced Joan she would get a higher price at No Reserve one month later in Florida.
  2. Closure on a stage full of people – while the video referenced above shows Dana Mecum giving Joan a gentle palm-over-palm hand shake immediately after the hammer fell, we wish we could show you the video from the MSNBC telecast. While the auction went on to the next lot, MSNBC panned to Joan slowly walking to the end of the auction block, touching her beloved GTO, and saying one more good bye as she visibly broke down for a brief moment. Dana Mecum walked down to the end, put his arm around her to try and comfort her. Perhaps Joan and her GTO deserved a better, more private moment than the prying eyes of a live collector car auction circus combined with the tens of thousands of TV viewers.
  3. Was the Buyer the Next Caretaker or an Opportunist? Joan took three gambles letting Mecum sell her GTO. First, Joan listed her car as a No Reserve auction, which is a rarity at any Mecum event. That’s a clear indicator Joan did not want to have the risk of her car coming back home to her unsold. Second, by going No Reserve Joan likely left money on the table as the Hagerty Insurance Guide currently lists a ’65 GTO Hardtop with factory four-speed and air conditioning in the #2 “Excellent” condition at $133,900. Third, knowing there is wiggle room on what was being bid, there’s a high probability a dealer or other opportunist snatched the car and will look to flip it very soon. That’s the downside of traditional collector car auctions: the car goes to the highest bidder, not necessarily the next caretaker. We hope the winning bidder is genuinely the next caretaker who will love and care for the GTO the way Joan and her family did.
  4. Mecum Grossed $18,200 from Joan’s GTO – while on the surface it was nice to see Dana Mecum personally comfort Joan Kennedy, it was the least he could do after taking $9,100 out of her pocket. The winning bidder also coughed over another $9,100 to Mecum in the ten percent buyer’s premium. That’s why on the Mecum site you see the inflated $100,100, which is sum of the $91,000 Hammer Price and the $9,100 Buyer’s Premium. It’s a practice we’d like to see all traditional collector car auction companies stop doing, but that’s another story. Look, we get that it takes a lot of money to put on a such a large scale auction event and Collector Car Auction Houses such as Mecum and Barrett-Jackson are entitled to make a profit.

In his Hot Rod Network article about Joan’s GTO, Christopher R. Philip summed it up best about Pontiacs, but it really applies to all collectible cars and what we hope to accomplish with GuysWithRides.com.

“Many cars are much more than the metal that makes them. For their owners, they represent a history of their own lives, the memories that were made while in these cars, and the people affected along the way. For Joan, this ’65 GTO represents the happy years of marriage she and John had, and also the devotion of their family to return it to its original splendor. It is a rolling monument to her husband, and she continued sharing it with people for as long as she could. That’s what the car hobby is really all about.”

When it comes time for owners of collectible cars to find it’s next caretaker, there needs to be a better, dealer-free place they can choose to help them find the right person at a fair price. GuysWithRides.com will become that marketplace.

Please feel free to scroll down and comment below on your thoughts about the current state of the Collectible Car hobby.