By Mark C. Bach
The early 2013 classic car auction scene took off like a rocket! From a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider that sold for $8.25 million, setting an all-time Arizona sale record, to the George Barris Batmobile selling for $4.62 million, and setting an all-time high for a TV or movie car, there was something for everyone in Arizona.
In January while the rest of the country might be combating winter blues, Arizona is red hot with car auctions. Six auction companies come out and offered a combined sixteen days worth of auctions in less than a week. Overall, the companies reported a combined $224 million in sales, which is up 22% from 2012’s total.
The auction companies typically offer cars at both reserve and no-reserve offerings. With a reserve auction listing, the owner will not sell the car unless a pre-determined (and undisclosed) price is met. Owners typically agree to pay a higher commission and placement fees to have the peace of mind of knowing the car won’t sell for less than a set amount. With a no-reserve car auction, the seller is turning over the car to the highest bidder, regardless of the price.
But the auction companies also charge the new owner, a buyer’s commission. So they take a cut from both ends of the” sandwich”. An example, Barrett-Jackson charges the buyer a 10% commission and the seller an 8% commission. So, if the car was hammered and sold for $100,000, the buyer actually paid $110,000 while the seller collected
$92,000. Makes a free ad in Auto/Truck Round-Up sound like a great deal!
Plus, the tax man for the state of Arizona will be collecting nearly 9% in sales tax if the car stays in Arizona.
With the recent financial struggles our country faces, and the fiscal cliff that we averted; it wasn’t too certain how the collectible car market would respond. But my guess is with the low interest rates that CD’s earn and worrisome stock prices, many people were willing to stake some money on their favorite automobiles. After all, you can’t polish and show off a stock certificate for Apple!
Here’s a quick recap by Auction Company:
Bonhams came out and had a quick one day of auction action on Thursday, January 17, 2013. They were able to sell 92 cars for a combined total of over $13.4 million. They sold a 1955 Mercedes Gull Wing for $896,000 and their top seller was a 1938 Mercedes 540K Cabriolet for over $1.3 million.
Russo Steele held their 13th annual event here and sold over 2/3 of their listed cars for over $17.5 million. They have shaken off their mishap with strong winds collapsing their tents in 2010 and had a great show. My favorite there was a famed 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, the holy grail of American muscle cars and one of only 69 built by GM that year. It sold for $605,000. Not to be outdone they also sold a green 1969 Yenko Camaro for $253,000.
Silver Car Auctions also managed to sell about 2/3’s of their listings and had plenty of Corvettes to choose from during two days of sales. Silver Car Auctions is always known for a fun show and fair prices for some good drivers. They actually seemed to have fewer muscle cars this year but still had a variety of cars to bid on.
Gooding & Company sold nearly every one of their 104 listings and brought in over $52 million including the proceeds from that 1958 Ferrari. They also sold a 1969 Corvette L88 for $825,000 and a 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra for $1,320,000. For each of the past six years, Gooding & Company has held the record for the highest selling car at the auctions held in Arizona.
RM Auctions sold more than $36 million worth of cars, with nearly 90% of their listings selling. They nearly snagged the top selling price record but had to settle for second place when selling a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta for $8,140,000.
Barrett-Jackson in less than a week sold 1,343 cars for $108 million while featured live on SPEED Channel. It wasn’t surprising that with Carroll Shelby’s recent death many of his cars would be up for auction. At the Barrett-Jackson auction alone, 48 Shelby’s were sold. Over 300,000 people came up to see this spectacle in person this year. And, with admission costs ranging up to $55 a person at the gate, that’s a great haul. One of the neatest highlights at the Barrett-Jackson auction is seeing some great cars being sold for charity. For these cars only, all fees are waived and the final selling price goes straight to the designated charity. This year, the 21 charity designated cars sold for over $5 million. That’s nearly a million dollars in auction fees waived by Craig Jackson.
I’m a huge fan of the original Mercedes Gull Wing cars and this year, Barrett-Jackson sold a gray 1955 originally owned by Clark Gable for $2,035,000. Did I mention that a 1932 Ford with a fabulous iconic fade paint job by Gene Winfield went for only $3,750? Guess I should add that it was a pedal car and that the proceeds benefited the Petersen Museum’s children outreach efforts!
Barrett-Jackson smartly teamed up with SPEED to showcase their auction live over cable television. It consistently draws great ratings and helps spotlight the Phoenix, AZ region when much of the country is blanketed in snow and slush. When the coverage starts up, so do the prices!
Folks always ask me about the cars and shake their heads at the prices. I always remind car sellers, it only takes two people to make a car valuable and in demand, and these cars are generally in great condition. If there is a car to be had, it’ll be here in Arizona in January! Now, if a buyer is cautious, reads the ads in Auto/Truck Round-Up and keeps an eye out for a good deal, he “might” find a car cheaper elsewhere. But how many 1964 Austin Healey 3000 Mark III convertibles will see you on the neighborhood used car lot? Barrett-Jackson had three in their auction alone.
Shake your head at some of the prices and call it dumb, but “a rising tide raises all the boats.” Meaning most all collectible cars see hikes as some notable few spike up. Plus manufacturers are more apt to make and stock parts as they see the prices these cars fetch.
The Arizona auction is always watched carefully as a predictor to how the collector car market will fare. If these trends are any indication, it’s gonna be a great year.
See ya’ on the road!