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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

Yearbook Offers Details and Analysis to Help You Make Sense of the Market
By Larry Edsall
Hagerty Book
Are you trying to make some sense of the current state of the high-end collector car market? Here's a tool you'll find very useful: Hagerty's Classic Car Auction 2006-2008 Yearbook.

Some of you will recognize this book as the latest iteration of the Bolaffi Catalogue.

"The Bolaffi Catalogues were arguably the world's most well-respected publications for comprehensive auction guides," says McKeel Hagerty, chief executive of Hagerty Insurance Agency, which insures many of the world's collectible vehicles, be they concours quality or car show cruisers.

"As we continue our efforts to be a resource for the hobby, we felt it was vital to adopt these guides and ensure their availability to car enthusiasts worldwide," Hagerty adds in introducing his company's underwriting of the catalog.

The Bolaffi books date to the mid-1950s, when the family of Italian philatelists published its first guide of collectible stamps and their values. Catalogs on art followed. In 1991, Alberto Bolaffi added a catalog of collectible car values to the family's publications. Four years later, Adolfo Orsi Jr., whose grandfather bought the Maserati brothers' automotive works in 1938, joined Raffaele Gazzi of Historica Selecta in producing the Bolaffi automotive catalogs.

This inaugural Hagerty-backed issue focuses on important international collector car auctions held between August 1, 206 and July 31, 2008, and offers detailed sales pricing and other information, including quite a few photographs, of more than 5200 vehicles offered at 150 events.

But it also goes back much further, for example, showing the top 10 (based on hammer price) vehicles as far back as the 1993-94 auction season. There are graphs tracing average prices for various marques since 1995-96, as well as lists of the top 100 cars sold in the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 seasons.

Helping make sense of all the numbers are interesting and informative "market analysis" by several experts in the field, who offered their analyses right around the time of the auctions last August on the Monterey Peninsula.

Already, James Knight, managing director of Bonhams, was seeing fewer people bidding on the top vehicles.

"Whereas 12-18 months ago, we could expect to see 3-6 people bidding on such a lot, the reality today is that it is 1-3," he writes. "Going forward I feel sellers will have to be pragmatic about expectations -- especially with the more common and high volume models. I would think that, if the market slows down – and cools in places – due to the anticipated reduced demand, we shall see less volume come to market. The rationale being if one does not need to sell, they probably will not."

And isn't that just what we saw last month in Arizona, where cars bid to more than $4 million were driven off without sale?

David Gooding of the auction house that bears his name and Simon Hope of Britain's H&H note that there were dramatic increases in the demand for "event eligible cars," vehicles that can be shown at places such as Pebble Beach or driven in historic races and rallies.

"This is a very encouraging sign in the collector car market as it indicates that collectors intend to use their cars for the types of driving for which they were originally built," Gooding writes.

Hope adds that "the difference in price between two seemingly identical cars, when one has been restored by a ‘known name' (with bills to prove) and the other by an unknown firm can be astonishing."

Simon Kidston, who left Bonhams to launch his own high-end financial services firm, anticipates "the next couple of years will separate the investors from the enthusiasts."

And speaking of the true enthusiasts, Max Girardo of RM's European division reminds us that "unlike the owners of stocks, shares or bonds, the buyers and owners of classic cars cherish their possessions… the classic car collector has the ability to have an intimate and tangible relationship with their car and to really enjoy what they own."

And isn't that the real value we all place in the cars we cherish?

[Hagerty's Classic Car Auction 2006-2008 Yearbook is a nearly 400-page hardcover book priced at $60 and available from Click here to buy it Now]

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