12 February 2016

Graph of the Week: Scottsdale vs. Retromobile 2016

Right after the U.S. auction season kicks off with the Arizona auctions, things get rolling on the European scene with the Retromobile auctions in Paris. Both events are on many a car person’s bucket list, be they shoppers or spectators. There are plenty of differences between the auctions, however, including when you look at the numbers. 

Aside from the fact that at Retromobile you’re more likely to see a Citroën than a Chevrolet, significantly fewer cars are sold in Paris for significantly higher average prices. Retromobile sold about an eighth of the 2,500 cars sold in Scottsdale, but over a third as much in total sales, and the average sale price in Retromobile was over three times as high. Although overall numbers were down on both sides of the Atlantic this year, the Paris sales have also grown at a faster rate as far as prices and total sales are concerned. While the number of cars offered in Paris isn’t even twice as high as it was in 2011, total sales have more than quadrupled. 

Because there isn’t a European equivalent to Barrett-Jackson or Russo and Steele, the European auctions are primarily made up of higher end cars, and the auction houses that specialize in those cars (RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams were in both Arizona and Paris) are the main attractions. The really high-end, eight-figure collector cars like Artcurial’s Ferrari 335 S or last year’s barn find 250 California Spider also don’t make their appearance in the U.S. until the Monterey auctions in August, so while Scottsdale moves more cars and serves a broader spectrum of the market, Retromobile puts most of its attention at the top.

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    Mark Logan Dallas, Texas February 20, 2016 at 15:25
    The graph showing a decrease in the average US sale price from 2015 to 2016 deserves further explanation. Because of differences in the exchange rate over that same five year period, the 2016 average sale price was depressed. In January of 2011, a Euro would buy $1.40 US. In January of 2016, $1.09. When measured against the Loonie, the disparity is even more dramatic. In Jan 2011, the Canadian $ was actually worth more than the US $. By 2016, it took $1.43 Canadian to buy $1 US. The five year downward trend in depreciation of the Canadian $ was a significant factor in Scottsdale, where approximately 30+ % of the bidders are from off-shore, and more than half of those from Canada. Adding to the supply, hundreds of Canadian sellers moved cars south to take advantage of the situation causing a flood of vehicles at reduced US prices. Over 170 were from Calgary, AB alone. When you remove a large number of bidders from Canada and the EU from the equation, average selling prices suffer. Total volume increases as auctions add an ever increasing number of days to the event to accommodate off-shore sellers.

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