Hurricane Sandy was unprecedented in terms of damage and loss to the collector car community; in fact, we estimate that between 8,000-10,000 collector cars were impacted, making Sandy the classic car hobby’s most devastating single loss event ever. Its effects on the hobby will continue to be felt for many years to come. It seems a touchy subject to write about the loss of objects that nobody really needs at a time when lives and livelihoods have been lost and basic necessities are hard to come by.
But car people see it a bit differently. We’ve talked to countless individuals who have been powering their PCs from portable generators and are already doing what so many of us do under far more normal circumstances — trolling Craigslist and eBay looking for cars.
Not surprisingly, the losses roughly track the popularity of certain collector cars in the Northeast part of the U.S. Corvettes, Camaros and Mustangs were hit the hardest.
Values May Be Affected
A cursory look at the usual sources of classic cars for sale reveals that between Hemmings.com, eBay Motors, Bring-a-Trailer.com and Craigslist, there are nowhere near 1,000 1953-82 Corvettes for sale. It seems likely that demand for replacement cars (at least in the short term) will outstrip the supply, and this can only mean one thing: Already, Hagerty clients are reporting dubious ads for collector cars for sale and meeting prices that seem in excess of what one would have expected to pay pre-storm.
The Hagerty valuation data team will monitor the situation and report our findings and what we hear from you via the valuation blog on the Hagerty Valuation Tools home page.
The upcoming Scottsdale auctions will supply an interesting barometer. An increase in the number of East Coast collectors looking to replace their losses could have an effect on the number of people bidding on each lot and thus final hammer prices. As with the above, Hagerty's valuation team will be onsite to analyze the auction results.
Although we have received no reports of it yet, with the sheer number of cars affected, it stands to reason that parts and materials for interior restorations may get somewhat scarce in the short term until suppliers re-order in larger quantities to meet increased demand. Things like door panels, sound insulations, carpets, seat kits, etc., will be in demand and inventories may become strained.
From a used parts perspective, the case is likely to be the opposite. There will be a boost in the used parts market as these vehicles hit the salvage auctions and are parted for everything except the soft interior parts. The Spring Carlisle and Charlotte Auto Fair shows will be the first example of this, and reputable vendors are sure to take the time to preserve the parts and will likely offer some great finds.
The concept of offsite storage may also get a boost as a result of Sandy. The vast majority of collector car owners store their cars in personal garages. Since it is conceivable that another event of this magnitude could take place, cautious collectors are beginning to take more seriously the notion of storing their cars away from their homes if they live in vulnerable areas, even if it means that it is less convenient to use them.