Arizona Auto Auction Week – The Wrap Up

Feb 4, 2016

Two Italian Cousins - Ferrari and Maserati

Two Italian Cousins – a Ferrari and Maserati at the RM Sotheby’s Auction in Arizona

The shock to my system has worn off already as I acclimate to the cold back on the tundra. I want to write down some thoughts about my trip to the AZ auctions this year for those of you who watch them.

Understand, I am no “old hand’ at the AZ auction scene. My first auction experience was a little over two years ago in 2014, which makes this my third year. Without a doubt, it’s a great experience for a car nut of any shape, size, or breed. The various auction houses literally have something for everyone, and more, if you include memorabilia, motorcycles, toys, and whatever. The AZ Concours d’Elegance is spectacular and is the keystone event to kick off the week. This week long “Event” also generally kicks off the collector car season now.

Even without a car to buy or sell, I still like going because it provides me with an idea of current market strength and values, as well as the quality of cars that are being offered. It also allows me an opportunity to meet and talk with professionals in the industry and see this business through the eyes of others that make their living in it. It is truly educational overall.

Without me going into some deep dive on the results, you may want to check out this article in Petrolicious by Benjamin Shahrabani: What Does The Collector Car Market Look Like After The 2016 Arizona Auctions? It is a really good analysis of the metrics and atmosphere. Overall, $250 million changed hands in the big houses, down about 15%. I also saw many, if not most cars not reaching their estimated values. I also didn’t see a lot of really perfect cars in the production car areas. The coachbuilt cars are usually stunning, but some of the production cars just looked a little shabby to me.

I believe the years of compounded annual growth just caught up with the market a bit, and people figured why not, let’s just send it out and see what happens. Typically not a good strategy, unless it’s a barn find or some sympathetic restoration. Between the US stock market woes, the de-valued Euro and the somewhat optimistic expectations, you may not look at the week as a win. Actually, I just feel it simply re-set the bar a bit.

I also believe that the really nice cars will always bring the best prices. Half-assed work really stands out at these events, especially to the eye of the savvy collector. The stories about the bidding wars on TV cars aside, the people coming out to really buy cars are looking at them very carefully, and with a wary eye. A driver quality car is still a driver quality car. They don’t become more valuable because they are under the lights.

Overall, the Healeys were probably down around the aforementioned 15% mark this year. The Series 1 E-Type Roadsters were bringing top money, as did most of the other Jaguar E-Type models and years. Porsches continued their value march forward generally, with Ferrari not bursting to new levels unless they were special cars.

It was still fun and I’ll be going next year, knock wood. Maybe I will bring a car and enjoy the game again!

 

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