Barrett-Jackson at Las Vegas
An early opportunity to check the collector car market's pulse
By Larry Edsall
Barrett-Jackson's inaugural collector car auction October 15-18 in the Mandalay Bay Events Center at Las Vegas is going to be very interesting, and for more reasons than you might anticipate.
After all, it's Vegas, baby, so there's bound to be even more of the bright lights and celebrity showcase that separate Barrett-Jackson from the more quiet and calm and typical classic car auctions. (Here's just one example: A 2008 B-J Edition Shelby GT autographed by host and judges of American Idol. And in true Barrett-Jackson tradition, proceeds from the sale of Lot 819.1 will go to the Lili Claire Foundation that benefits children with neurogenetic disorders.)
But I think the big news flowing from Mandalay Bay will be the prices being paid for the hundreds of vehicles rolling across the Barrett-Jackson block. I think we're going to see some real Vegas jackpots being paid.
Sure, the overall economy is running on empty and searching desperately for a filling station. But the irony is that when the stock market plummets, classic car prices accelerate.
Like paintings by the masters or collectible antiques, old but valuable cars are tangible, hard assets, investments that provide a lot of satisfaction right here and now. You can't take your stock portfolio out for a Saturday morning spin, and would you really want to show off your 401k at the local cruise-in right now? But you can show and shine your classic car even while anticipating a profit when you or your children sell it somewhere down the road.
Most years, to take the pulse of the collector car market, we have to wait until January, when the collector car world comes to Arizona's Valley of the Sun. This year, with the auction season starting early, we get to see right now how the classic car body is responding to such stress in the overall economy.
I don't think we'll need a stethoscope to hear a very strong heartbeat.
Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.