Hagertys Winter 2009 State of the Collector Car Market

Hello, I’m McKeel Hagerty and welcome to the Winter 2009 Collector Car Market Update.

Each year the classic car world looks to Scottsdale Auction Week in January as a barometer of the state of the market, but with the current economic downturn a lot of people in the collector car world held their breath in anticipation of the week’s results. Well the 2009 Scottsdale results are in and it’s safe to say that collector cars remain a highly desirable asset.

While over all values are down a bit in this economy, demand continues to be strong. In today’s market, buyers are looking for authenticity and bullet proof documentation as protection against deflated values. Not surprisingly, blue chip collector cars with the right provenance and documentation remain solid. Furthermore, knowledgeable bidders are discovering that there are some real opportunities right now for some great buys. The big picture of the week’s events is remarkable; 1900 cars were offered for sale with 1535 finding new homes. That’s an average sell through rate above 80% an enviable result in any economy and especially great news in 2009. The average transaction value fell from $94,000 in 2008 to $84,000 this year, but predictions of a full scale bloodletting proved to be dead wrong.

Let’s take a look at the numbers from the four major auctions. With their all no reserve format, Barrett-Jackson sold more cars than all of the other auction houses combined. A total of 1,077 cars added up to a $61 million total in the action packed 6 days of Barrett-Jackson’s annual sale at West World in Scottsdale. Barrett-Jackson’s 2009 total of $61 million was a decrease of nearly 30% from their $84.5 million sale total in 2008, but this came as little surprise. Barrett-Jackson had previously announced that they would be offering a docket of more popularly priced vehicles than in previous years reflecting changes in the overall economy. No matter the outcome, Barrett-Jackson is far more than an auction; it’s a lifestyle entertainment event of Super Bowl magnitude.

This tent is so huge it’s four football fields long.

With public attendance over 200,000 a full compliment of sponsors and vendors and an incredibly strong Speed TV presence, Barrett-Jackson remains the signature event in Scottsdale.

Just north of West World, Russo and Steele sold 262 out of 597 cars for a 43% sales rate and a total of $17.5 million during their five day event. Russo and Steele’s 2009 total of $17.5 million was a bit lower than their $19.1 million total in 2008, but company president, Drew Alcazar, is counting solidly in the win column.

At the elegant Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix, RM Auction sold 106 of their 127 lots presented for an 83% sales percentage. Their one day total was $18.2 million. RM’s total could have easily matched their 2008, but two major lots failed to make the reserve and went unsold. The 2009 total of $18.2 million was short of the $27 million total of 2008 with no vehicles surpassing the seven figure range.

Gooding and Company improved their 2008 results in 2009 with 84 out of 101 selling for a total of $32.4 million. Seven vehicles sold for more than a million dollars. Gooding and Company was the only major auction that was able to top their own results from 2008 which was their debut event in Scottsdale. Their $32.4 million total for 2009 was solidly ahead of the $21 million achieved last year. No small feat in this economy. Congratulations to David Gooding and his staff for achieving all seven multi-million dollar car sales in Scottsdale this year.

So what do the Scottsdale results tell us about the likely trends in 2009? First, I think it’s safe to say that quality in the classic car field will continue to hold its value. Second, and perhaps more interestingly for those of us who follow the auctions closely, there should be some great buys out there for those who are patient and willing to do their homework. We may look back at 2009 as the year when some of the great collections were established and some existing ones were greatly enhanced.

If you want to research the value of your collector cars, visit www.carsthatmatter.com to access Hagerty’s Cars That Matter Price Guides. Your best resource for accurate and up-to-date collector car values.

If you’re looking for the latest news, visit www.hagerty.com for in depth collector car hobby information and remember, always protect your collector vehicle investments with the right insurance policy, an agreed value policy from Hagerty Insurance.

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