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Collector Car Market Grows Stronger

By: Peter Volny
Photos: Linda Goddard

It's not just the Dow and TSX that have made sizeable gains in the past few years, the collector car market has shown amazing resilience as it continues to set record after record.

Auction Week in Scottsdale, AZ, is the barometer of the market with six auctions over the space of one very hectic week in January. Perhaps it's the escape from a brutal winter in the north that drives so many bidders and sellers to sunnier climes.

This year saw the seemingly impossible $200 million barrier not just broken, but totally annihilated with $228 million in sales collectively for the six auctions. This was an increase of almost 25 per cent over last year. Whilst the majority of the almost 1,900 vehicles auctioned were mass produced classics, there were numerous very limited edition models and correspondingly stratospherically priced.

Million Dollar Mark

No less than 31 vehicles sold for over the million dollar mark which was more than double last year's tally. Of the several record setting sales, Gooding & Co. set the top price with $8.25 million for a 1958 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider, also a new record for Arizona's annual auction week. Gooding sold a total of 101 vehicles for $52.5 million at an average of more than $500,000 per car sold. That's a 31 per cent increase over last year's average and highlights the strength of the market.

1958 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider

Barrett-Jackson, the 600-pound gorilla of collector car auctions with 1,343 cars sold and attendance estimated at 300,000, topped $100 million in sales partially due to its expansion into a Salon Collection of high-end vehicles which added almost $30 million to its total. This included its top seller the 'eclectic' Batmobile from the TV series which surprised many with a top bid of $4.6 million. Don't bother looking for it on Bay Street, it's going to a museum.

Batmobile

Canada's own RM Auctions barely missed the highest individual sale with a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Competizione Berlinetta at $8.14 million. Its one-day sale, down from two last year, generated slightly more than $36 million, an increase of 42 per cent over last year, with eight vehicles selling for more than $1 million each.

RM car auction

Russo and Steele totaled $17.5 million from 480 cars with a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster bringing in $727,100 and a 1969 Camaro ZL1 bringing $605,000.

Second Year

Bonham's, in only its second year at Scottsdale, sold twice as many cars as last year for a total of more than $14 million from 91 vehicles. Top sale was a 1972 Lamborghini Muira SV at $1.215 million.

Silver Auctions, taking advantage of the week's frenzy, reported $2.8 million from 213 cars sold.

Unlike the stock market, where new issues and splits are not uncommon, rare and exotic classic cars are declining in availability as collectors snap them up, so prices are expected to continue rising. Besides a vintage Ferrari or Mercedes is a lot prettier to look at than a stock certificate and will generate far more pleasure on the road.

All prices in U.S. dollars.

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