Within weeks of panel discussions during Arizona Auction Week that strongly favored hobbyists over speculators when it came to maintaining a healthy car-collecting economy comes news of two new investment funds designed to cash in on the recent and renewed uptick in classic car prices.
The British-based IGA Automobile LP, which includes Pink Floyd drummer and car collector Nick Mason and racer and car collector Ray Bellm, anticipates a 15-percent annual return once it has the funding it needs to buy up $150 million in classic cars. Meanwhile, the Classic Car Fund says it will invest 70 percent of its assets in classic cars and has selected Count of Custoza Family Office Ltd. of Zurich, Switzerland, to manage its portfolio. "Family" reports its line of tailored investments returned a 29-percent average annual return between 2003 and 2009.
And yet it was only a few weeks ago during on of those panel discussions in Arizona that Drew Alcazar of Russo and Steele auctions lamented an era when people were buying up collector cars simply "to flip" them. He noted that after taking their profit, "they didn’t even remember what color the car was."
Now, Alcazar added, "people are buying classic cars to drive them and to enjoy road rallies and vintage racing."
Alcazar wasn’t alone in his feelings.
"Fifteen years ago we were worried the hobby was dead," added Barry Meguiar, host of the popular "Car Crazy" television show that features car guys (and gals) and their passion for their classic cars.
Why did Meguiar and others fear the hobby was dying? Because, he said, "speculators were flipping cars," buying and selling for potential profit, not for personal passion.
Parnelli Jones salute at Legends of Riverside III
Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby and Bobby Unser are among more than 50 racers who will participate in a salute to Parnelli Jones at the third annual Legends of Riverside celebration March 25-27. The event takes place at the Riverside International Automotive Museum in Riverside, California, where a preview showing of the documentary film, "Godspeed," will be offered. The movie chronicles the recovery of Jones’ son, Page, from a near-fatal brain injury suffered in a sprint car racing mishap. Page Jones and film maker Mary Leonard also will be in attendance. See www.LegendsOfRiverside.com for more information.
Museum celebrates XK-E’s 50th birthday
The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia celebrates the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Jaguar XK-E from February 19 through March 13. Visit www.SimeoneMuseum.org for information.
In conjunction with the XK-E’s 50th birthday, a Swiss businessman has commissioned designers Bo Zolland of Vizualtech and Robert Palm to explore how the car might have looked had it remained in production. The Growler E 2011 concept car (see photo) is based on the current XKR, but with its 5.0-liter V8 tweaked to provide 600 rather than a mere 510 horsepower. The body is of composite materials and is attached to a chassis with a carbon fiber core and front and rear tubular frames. Based on response to the design sketches, a small series production run could be undertaken.
Barrett-Jackson accepts reserve consignments for Palm Beach
Since January, 2005, Barrett-Jackson auctions have refused to allow consigners to establish reserves, secret prices that must be met by bidders before a vehicle can be sold. But for the Barrett-Jackson auction April 7-9 at the South Florida Fairgrounds, reserves can be set on vehicles with an agreed estimated value of more than $50,000.
"Throughout Barrett-Jackson’s history, we have always remained committed to having an open dialogue with our customers about their wants and needs," said Steve Davis, auction house president. "In the course of this dialogue, we have heard from some of our customers that they are committed to the Barrett-Jackson auction model and the Barrett-Jackson No Reserve format... On the other hand, we heard from others who would like to participate in a Barrett-Jackson auction but have cars they aren’t comfortable selling at No Reserve. These same customers have asked us to consider re-introducing a Reserve element into our auction format."
Mecum adds motorcycle division
Mecum Auctions has added a motorcycle division to corporate structure and has hired American Motorcyclist Association hall of famer Gavin Trippe to manage the consignment and marketing of "world-class collector motorcycles" at Mecum auctions.
"The motorcycle fraternity has been largely ignored in the current auction market, but now there will be a major platform to expose rare and valuable bikes to collectors," Trippe said.
"The beauty of collecting bikes is that five bikes can occupy the same space as one car and you can ride many of them, or even hang one on the wall of a 'man cave' or corporate office.
"Even the most expensive motorcycles can be affordable," he added.
Trippe previously organized the Monterey Classic Bike Auctions and worked with the Otis Chandler collection and the Barber Motorsports Vintage Museum and its motorcycle collection.
Bugatti racer brings $1.3 million in Paris
A 1933 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix two-seat racer sold for $1.3 million at Bonham’s recent auction at the Grand Palais in Paris. The car had been part of the estate of Lord Raglan. Another of the Raglan cars, a 1930 Bugatti Type 46 cabriolet with coachwork by Figoni brought nearly $460,000.
Other highlights included a 1930 Bugatti Type 46 faux cabriolet by Veth & Zoom for $850,000, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet for more than $690,000, a 1992 Rolls-Royce Phantom VI Landaulette for more than $660,000, and a 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 formerly owned by Kind Baudouin of Belgium, which brought $460,000.
Total sales approached $14 million with 73 percent of lots selling.
Also taking place in Paris in conjunction with Retromobile was the Artcurial auction where a 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante sold for nearly $740,000 and a 1931 Invicta Type LS 4.5 L low-chassis coupe brought more than $680,000.
Worldwide Auctioneers sold 32 of 63 lots at its Atlantic City auction. The high sale was $302,500 for a 1904 Thomas Flyer Model K 60-horsepower racer. A 1932 Auburn 12-160A boattail speedster went for $280,500 and a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible brought $247,500.
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