Graph of the Week: Sell-through rates at auction

As the collector car market continues shedding speed, it’s easy to assume that all of its segments are behaving similarly. Examining auction sell-through rates (the number of cars sold vs. the number offered), however, tells a different story.

At the high end, cars valued above $250,000 have been an increasingly tough sell since 2014, with sell-through rates falling from 82 percent at the end of 2013 to around 63 percent by 2016’s summer. Cars valued from $100,000 to $250,000 have also noticeably declined from a high of 77 percent in early 2015 to a five-year low of 67 percent at present. At this level, more cars are being offered but fewer are selling.

At the lower end of the pricing ladder, cars valued below $25,000 have tracked a steady, if subtle, climb since mid-2013. At this budget, first-generation Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros, 1968-72 Chevelles, and C3 Corvettes have all seen sell-through rates climb by four to six percent over the past 12 months alone.

This change is driven by more expensive cars that are increasingly replacing more affordable ones at auction, while demand for those more expensive cars decreases. Meanwhile, desire for fun and inexpensive (or less expensive) cars remains consistent, resulting in brisker sales for these entry-level examples.

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