What Does The Collector Car Market Look Like After The 2016 Arizona Auctions?
Note: The images in this article are the Arizona best sellers, ordered from #1–10
Taking place early in the year, Scottsdale is looked to by many as a barometer of the state of the collector car market. Now, as the auction tents are being dismantled, exhausted enthusiasts journey home, and transport trucks haul away millions of dollars of precious cargo, it seems like a good time as any to conduct a post-mortem on the 2016 edition of the event.
$251-million changed hands with the help of the auctioneers from the major auction companies after a full week of sales: Barrett-Jackson, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding, Russo & Steele, and Bonhams. But while impressive, this is a 15% pullback from 2015, when almost $293-million in sales were reported. Average sale prices suffered an almost corresponding amount as well, to just over $100,000 from almost $115,000. What happened?
One major event that cannot have escaped notice just before Scottsdale this year was the stock market pullback. Based partly on fears about China’s economy, and dropping oil prices, the Dow Jones plunged almost two-thousand points in the month of January. Certainly not good news if you were planning to buy a collector car, as you might be feeling less flush. Along the same lines, overseas buyers weren’t out in the Arizona sun as in past years. With economic woes of their own, and the Euro hovering somewhere between $1.07-1.09 Usd. to 1 Euro, cars purchased in dollars may quickly become overpriced for those bidding from the EU.
While global economic troubles hung in the air, the cars that were available for sale play into the end result. While 80% of cars did sell—and Barrett-Jackson’s “no reserve” format helps mightily with this percentage—it is still a drop from the 85% sold last year, and many cars that did sell fell short of their estimates by quite a distance if they were cut loose.
Looking at this, one might conclude another set of factors at play. First, that the estimates were too ambitious, and set too high. Many cars were bid to amounts that would have purchased them but six to nine months ago. Second, we have finally realized the overheated market after steady expansion and rising prices as many pundits were musing about. Third, a new overall Arizona auction record aside, perhaps the overall quality of the cars was not as inspiring as previous years; owners have seen the high selling prices and are coming out of the woodwork, and bringing less choice examples to market. This all suggests sellers are still optimistic, but that buyers aren’t as bullish that prices are going to continue to rise.
If it all sounds like doom and gloom, it isn’t.
The market is maturing, and buyers are becoming more astute and educated: and that is good. Several cars set new records, reminding us that quality will always be sought after, and the pre-war market showed significant signs of life.
Cars missing their estimates also mean there should be some good buys out there for those who are patient and willing to do a bit of legwork. And let’s not forget that our hobby is much bigger than the auctions: 95% of collector cars are bought and sold elsewhere, besides auctions. The next few months should be telling about the true direction of the collector car market. Was this just a blip, or a trend? Rétromobile in Paris, France will be taking place, so we will be able to take another reading then.
Until that time, listed below are the top 10 results across all auctions at Scottsdale. These numbers include the appropriate buyer’s premiums, and serve as a reminder that blue-chip collectables are still hot:
- 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster by Sindelfingen:
- 1950 Ferrari 166 MM/195 S Berlinetta Le Mans:
- 1960 Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale:
- 1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupe by Murphy:
- 2003 Ferrari Enzo:
- 1929 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton:
- 1995 Ferrari F50:
- 1965 Shelby 427 Competition Cobra:
- 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB by Scaglietti:
- 2015 McLaren P1:
What are your predictions for the collector car market year ahead? Please share them with us below.