Never Stop Driving #82: January Doldrums

A man watches the snow fly outside Cobo Hall prior to the 2009 NAIAS. Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Detroit in January is no place for the weak. Single-digit temps, biting wind, snow, ice, and darkness from late sunrises and early sunsets are just a few of the Motor City’s joys in the new year. I live in the region, so I’m allowed to complain. For 30 years, from 1989 to 2019, the auto industry gathered in Motown each January for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), a required stop on the auto show circuit for global executives and media. As I mentioned last week, CES, which also occurs in January but in Las Vegas, slowly overtook the Detroit show—and no one really complained when NAIAS organizers announced four years ago that it would no longer occur in January. The pandemic scuttled plans for a reorganized summer show, but finally, last year, the Detroit event returned in September.

Now, the Detroit show has announced that it is returning to January for 2025. It turns out that cabin fever is real here in the north country—I could not agree more— and more consumers, aka potential car buyers, attended in January, happy to spend a Saturday afternoon checking out the latest metal in the comfort of a spacious exhibition hall rather than on a snowy dealer lot.

January is also big in the classic car world, which now lures snowbirds to two major auction events in the Sunbelt. Mecum auctioned about 4000 cars in Kissimmee, Florida, last week, and another round of auctions, including the Barrett-Jackson sale, begins next week in Scottsdale, Arizona. This means the Hagerty Valuation team will be working overtime digesting the data to inform the Hagerty Price Guide. We’ll also get a clue about the year ahead.

By all accounts, the market for fun cars remains strong but is cooling. The Hagerty Market Rating, an index of the market that is basically our version of the stock market index, is at 66.32, which is considered to be in “expanding market” territory. We are, however, coming off pandemic boom times, and the rating has slowly dropped for the past year or so. This relative stability means there is some certainty in the values of cars, and less speculation, which I think makes it easier to buy and sell.

When 22,000 people view a car for sale, as they did my Mustang, and they bid up the price to about 15 grand, then that’s what the car is worth. I figured I’d get between 13 and 16 grand for it. On this week’s Never Stop Driving podcast, I discuss the early auction results and the broader market overall with Hagerty Price Guide editor Dave Kinney, who’s attended hundreds, if not thousands, of car auctions over the years and knows that world intimately. Give it a listen on Apple, Spotify, or YouTube.

Meanwhile, January also marks the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. I’ve never attended, as C students like me aren’t allowed in, but it’s a giant networking event for world business and political leaders. Those folks should know each other, I suppose, so they can jointly make decisions that affect the rest of us, but the whole thing feels a little creepy to me. Last June even The Wall Street Journal struck a populist tone when the editorial board warned that the forum is “Coming for your car.” The paper suggested attendees do their part to reduce emissions by giving up their private jets. Good luck with that.

Audi RS Q e-tron front end in the sand

My ideal January escape would be to race in the Dakar Rally, which has been speeding across Saudi Arabia since January 6 and finishes today. Don’t ask me to succinctly explain this event, but I know it has butch-looking and sophisticated cars zooming, and often jumping, across an unpaved landscape. I’m in!

Please be sure to check out the Hagerty Media website, YouTube and social channels for more. We provide scores of material, for free, to support the car hobby. If you’d like to support us, please join the Hagerty Drivers Club.

I hope your weekend is warmer than mine!


P.S.: Your feedback is very welcome. Comment below!

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Read next Up next: Our Two Cents: The Most Boring New Cars on Sale Today


    The Elites of Davos will never give up their private jets. Their findings are for us plebes to live by and certainly does not apply to them. It is interesting to me that generally speaking most of the green new deal crowd are lawyers and politicians most of whom know nothing about science or history, much less about cars. My belief is that government is ultimately moving toward driverless “cars” by claiming it is for our own protection because they believe people are too unskilled or stupid to do their own driving, and therefore driving will become illegal. Happily, I will be long gone by then….I hope.

    Well, I dunno – maybe “they” have a point – there seems to be an ever-increasing number of unskilled and/or stupid drivers around these parts lately. Maybe it’s something they’re putting in the water (thankfully, I’m on a well).

    It is all about money and power. You control the narrative you control the people.

    They are like we know better and will help you. They no longer hide it and say anything you have is due to the government.

    The pull to driverless cars will give them the ability to say where you go and when you or how you go someplace. It is all about control.

    Some like to say this is a conspiracy but it is not. They no longer hide things and you will read reports from the WFC about what they want. Look I do not believe in aliens or bigfoot. but I know a con game when I see one.

    Oh, aliens and Bigfoot are real, alright. They ran me off the road once (or maybe it was a deer, coulda been a deer…)! 😉

    Always good content Larry thank you. And WEF is not only creepy but scary on the aspects of how these un elected elites want ‘us’ to live ie eat bugs not meat, no cars, fly twice a year etc. Not good. And agreed on Dakar! Would love to try that.

    So glad the hear that the Detroit Auto Show is going back to January. It was one of my highlights in the month of January along with watching Barret-Jackson.

    Please include a sentence or two commenting on the Detroit Autorama car show. It’s just around the corner and well worth an afternoon walk through!

    Hey Larry – The market may have softened a bit – but it’s still hot for the right car in the right condition. Have Dave Kinney take note of the 1965 Riviera GS at Mecum that just sold for $302,500. I’ve been looking for a 65 GS to park next to my 66 GTO – and that one at Mecum was just gorgeous – but way way out of my budget.

    Doing to the Detroit show was always dependent on weather. Coming from Ohio it could be cold but dry in Detroit but you could drive into a wall of snow near Sandusky Ohio from lake effect snow like we will be getting no night up to a foot of snow.

    I have kind of grown tired of the auctions but the 24 at Daytona may be one of the largest fields yet. I am excited for the new GT3R cars.

    We had a mild winter up till about two weeks ago. I had a break and no salt on my road so I went out for a couple passes with one of my cars. felt good.

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