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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

Classic car hobby year opens with record-setting Arizona auctions
By Larry Edsall

Cruisin' with Larry Don't say you were not warned. Our pre-Arizona Auction Week dispatch talked about how well the fine art auctions did in New York a couple months ago and included a prediction that, for the first time, AZ classic car auctions would break the $200 million sales plateau.

Which they did -- and then some.

Preliminary totals show Barrett-Jackson sales at $108 million, Gooding and Company at $52.5, RM at $36.4, Russo and Steele at $16, Bonhams at $14.5 and Silver at $2.8.

Do the math and that's $230.2 million, give or take a hundred thousand in change.

Do some more math and that $230.2-million figure marks an astounding 25 percent increase compared to the same sales just 12 months ago.

Michael Sheehan, who has bought and sold Ferraris and other exotics for 40 years and has made a science of studying the boom/bust cycles of classic car sales, says "we are two years into this boom, and there's probably three more years of Happy Days.

"But the problem with booms," he continues, "is that they have a bad habit of imploding unexpectedly."

Nonetheless, he adds, "I predict two more years of happy times, but God help us after that."

Don't fret, Sheehan adds, just be careful as you buy and sell. After all, "if your $700,000 Daytona falls to $400K, your life really isn't going to change."

At the moment, however, it would appear that if the price on that Daytona -- a couple of them sold in Arizona for around $450K -- is going anywhere, it's going up, perhaps even toward Sheehan's $700K mark.

Cruisin' with Larry Seven-hundred K was almost chump change at the Arizona auctions. Two Ferraris 250 GTs -- a 1958 LWB California Spider and a 1960SWB Competizione Berlinetta -- sold for more than $8 million each; George Barris' original Lincoln concept-turned-TV's Batmobile -- brought $4.62 million; and a 1959 Porsche 718 RSK roadster and a 1957 Maserati 150 GT Spider each changed ownership for more than $3 mill.

The owner of a 1965 Ford GT40 turned down a bid of $2.15 million and the owner of a 1968 Shelby GT 500 prototype declined a bidder's $1.8 mill.

But the Arizona auctions weren't only about seven-figure classics. Hagerty Insurance, which closely monitors classic car transaction prices, reported the least expensive buy at the Arizona auctions was a mid-1990s BMW sedan that sold for $1,350.

On the other hand, Hagerty reported that the average sale price in Arizona was an amazing $100,176 -- some $15,000 more than the year-ago average. Gooding sold 101 vehicles at an astounding average of $520,371. RM moved 75 at an average of $485,544 per (more than double its 2012 figure) and Bonhams, which had a disappointed Arizona debut in 2012, soared back with 91 sales averaging $147,296.

Barrett-Jackson, which sold more than 1300 vehicles, averaged $76,754. Russo and Steele moved 422 units at $37,975 per. Silver sold 209 at an impressive average of $13,628, especially impressive when you consider only one of those 209 vehicles -- a 1967 Corvette convertible -- went for more than $50,000.

Focus flows to Florida

Even before the Arizona action was finished, Mecum Auctions was parading some 3,000 vehicles across its block in Kissimmee, Florida. Florida hosts the next big round of auctions with RM and Gooding at Amelia Island, Bonhams at Boca Raton, and Auctions America at Fort Lauderdale in March and with Barrett-Jackson in Palm Beach in April.

Also in Florida -- February 22-23 -- Mecum will sell 80 cars from Fran and Ron Green's Verde Classics Museum in Boynton Beach.

But the most anticipated of such "small" sales takes place February 15-16 at Madison, Georgia, where RM sells the contents of the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. (Next week we'll have a preview of that event and share a visit to the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild reunion that took place during Arizona Auction Week.)

Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele add auctions

In addition to selling lots of classic cars, Barrett-Jackson and Russo and Steele announced new events during Arizona Auction Week.

Barrett-Jackson won't be going back to Orange County, California, this year, but it will do an auction during the 27th annual Hot August Nights celebration, August 8-10 (the weekend before Pebble Beach) in Reno/Tahoe, Nevada.

Meanwhile, Russo and Steele will add two events to its calendar this year -- with an auction this summer in Newport Beach, California, and another this fall in Las Vegas.

Click here for event calendar.

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