February Market Rating Update: Scottsdale data moves the meter

The Scottsdale and Kissimmee auctions were among the biggest contributors to data for this month’s update of the Hagerty Market Rating, which moved from 70.38 in January to 70.61 in February.

January is the biggest month of the year in terms of number of cars sold at auction and is second in dollar volume to August, when the Pebble Beach sales take place.

Combined dollar volume for the six Scottsdale auctions was up almost 20% ($295 million in 2015 vs. $248 million in 2014). Mecum in Kissimmee was up about $6 million with a total of $66 million.  A deeper dive into the results, however, shows the market’s trajectory to be flattening at a rate greater than the numbers suggest.

Barrett-Jackson’s one-time Ron Pratte Collection sale accounted for $35 million of the Scottsdale total. Factor that out and Barrett’s total would have been down slightly, and the overall dollar growth would have been about 9%. The other sales — Russo and Steele, Silver Auctions, Gooding and Bonhams — were also virtually flat year-over-year. Only RM posted a significant gain in dollar volume.

Results against pre-sale estimates at the catalog sales was also a mixed bag owing mainly to pre-sale estimates that our experts observed were among the most ambitious that they had ever seen. The top of the market was clearly not in the mood to over-spend by a dime and the results at the top reflected this. There were no eight-figure cars sold, in spite of the fact that Bonhams, Gooding and RM each had at least one Ferrari with estimates in excess of $10 million. This pushback correlates with our insured data at the top of the market, where the ratio of value increases to decreases has slipped measurably.

The top of the market, which conventional wisdom holds to be the smartest of the smart money, is a prime leading indicator. It is logical that a cooling trend will be led by this segment, just as the market’s return to health starting in 2011 was led by this sector. Thus we expect that over the next 12-24 months the middle of the market and the entry-level will see growth level off as well. Expert sentiment seems to reflect this overall view.

(Check out more about the Hagerty Market Rating from Bloomberg Business, Autoblog, MSN and ClassicCars.com.)