Yes, there were some amazingly high prices paid recently at the Lambrecht sale out in a farmer's field in Nebraska, but let's not panic. Instead, let's look at this one-off event in perspective.
"It was a magic moment in the world of collector cars, a wonderful thing to attend," said Dave Kinney, who was there. Kinney has been attending such events for decades. He's the founder and editor of Hagerty's Cars That Matter classic car pricing guide.
With unprecedented pre-event coverage and with the History channel providing live coverage of the early bidding, there was a lot of attention on this auction and especially on those early sales; the VanDerBrink auction house offered the best cars first. (see photo from VanDerBrink Auctions).
Early prices included $140,000 for a 1958 Chevrolet Cameo pickup truck, $97,500 for a 1963 Impala hardtop, and $75,000 a similar but year-newer car.
But such prices were paid only for the first few and most desirable vehicles, Kinney explained. By the second day of the sale, he said, prices were typically around $1,500 for what were basically rusty parts cars.
"I love the spirit of the thing, and the romance," Kinney said, "but these were cars that didn't sell [at the Lambrecht Chevy dealership] for a reason. There were no 409 four-speeds out there. It was basically a sale of leftovers. A lot of the cars [many of which had been sitting out in the field for decades] were 100-percent nothing but parts cars."
But, as Kinney said, it was a magic moment and brought a lot of attention to the hobby, and to some of the buyers.
For example, that $140,000 Cameo is going to New Hampshire, where Steve Ames has a museum that specializes in ultra-low-mileage cars.
Although you can buy a very nice Cameo (the one in Nebraska had a significant dent in its roof) for around $75,000, Ames was willing to pay more in part because it helps publicize his collection.
Now, for a more realistic take on the state of the hobby...
For a somewhat more realistic look at the current state of the collector car marketplace, we can reflect on the recent and sixth annual Barrett-Jackson action at Las Vegas.
We use the word "somewhat" for a couple of reasons. One -- Is anything in Vegas truly realistic? Tw0 -- Some of the prices paid at Barrett-Jackson are just as amazing as those we saw in Nebraska, though for a different reason.
Barrett-Jackson has distinguished itself among classic car auction houses with its sale of cars for charities, and the top three sales at Las Vegas were all charity cars: a 1957 Continental Mark II bringing $700,000 for the Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, a 2012 Shelby GT500 Super Snake generating $500,000 for the Wounded Warriors Family Support and a 2012 Penske Racing NASCAR Dodge Charger driven by series champion Brad Keselowski benefiting the NASCAR Foundation for half-a-million dollars.
In total, cars auctions at Barrett-Jackson's Vegas event generated more than $2.2 million for charities.
Barrett-Jackson's sixth Vegas event posted a whopping 41-percent increase over previous-year sales, doing more than $32 million, and only $2.2 million of that can be attributed to the charity cars.
So, here's our reality check: A 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC went for $495,000; a 1931 Lincoln Model K convertible brought $352,000; and a 2005 Ford GT, 2006 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, 1967 Shelby GT500E convertible and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro COPO each brought $225,000 or more.
Realty check: Part 3
An update from the Hagerty Price Guide "confirms strength in collector car market," the press release reports. "New market data published by the Hagerty Price Guide shows that the most expensive and desirable cars in the collector vehicle hobby have reached unprecedented highs."
In addition to detailing the value of seemingly ever type of classic car, the guide includes seven "primary indices," such as blue chip, Ferrari, etc. Five of the seven indices have increased in value in recent months, and four established record values with double0-digit increases in the last four months.
"But when examined from a global economic standpoint, it still is an issue of supply and demand," the insurer reports, noting that two cars sold publicly this summer for nearly $30 million each, while prior to 2008 a public sale had never eclipsed $10 million."
And then comes this news...
It's not only at places such as the Lambrecht auction that stunning prices are being posted. Bloomberg news service has reported that a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO has become the most expensive classic car ever with its sale for $52 million in a private (non-auction) transaction.
The car, one of only 37 GTOs, carried serial number 5111 and had been driven by Jean Guichet to victory in the 1963 Tour de France road race.
The sale is believed to be the first of a GTO since June, 2012, when one sold for a then-record $35 million.
We talk about classic cars being "rolling sculpture." Well, at more than $50 million, classic cars finally are reaching financial plateaus previously inhabited only by fine art.
Two wheelers celebrated at Corvette museum
While the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is known for sharing the history of America's sports car, it recognizes its friends who like to travel on just two wheels and has assembled more than 40 motorcycles for a special exhibit, "Two-Wheel Speed," that runs through January 3, 2014.
Among the bikes are a 1928 Indian 101, the fastest of its day; a 1967 Triumph Bonneville T120R that set the world land two-wheel speed record at Bonneville; the Motus MST-R bike that was developed in conjunction with Pratt & Miller Engineering and the factory Corvette Racing team; the 1966 Bridgestone Special Racer that won at Daytona; and a 1975 Harley Davidson MX 350 dirt-bike prototype.
Porsches featured at museum of art
From October 12 through January 20, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh will show "Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed," an exhibition of the history and evolution of Porsche from the 1930s to today.
The exhibit includes 22 vehicles, dating as early as the 1938 Type 64 Berlin-Rom racer and 1949 Gmund coupe and including some owned by the likes of Steve McQueen, Ralph Lauren and Janis Joplin, as well as the Panamericana concept on loan from the Porsche museum in Germany.
Click here for event calendar.
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The Jacobsons - October 11, 2013 11:51AM
great information on classic cars values and vehicle stories.keep up the news,thanks.
Arthur Allen - October 11, 2013 1:49PM
I think the market for classic cars (as they are currently defined) has reached it's peak and will begin to wane. Here's why:
- The pre and early baby boomer generations (full disclosure: I'm one of them, circa 1943) grew up being exposed to and driving cars made in the '30s, '40s and '50s.
- Those cars cover a wide evolution of design and mechanical technology in the automotive industry.
- The '50s decade saw unprecedented major design changes, particularly in the later half of that decade, which will likely never happen again.
- The pre and early baby boomer population is shrinking and with it their interest in cars of the '30s - '50s decades.
- The mid to late baby boomer generation grew up with cars of the '60's, '70s and '80s.
- With the exception of the muscle cars of the '60s, cars of the '70s and '80s are not very inspiring or collectable.
- Cars of the '70s were mostly crap due to uninspiring designs, and many had serious rusting issues due to engineering and design flaws.
- Cars of the '80s and '90s morphed into design blandness via common platforms, engines, bodies and rebadging.
- Cars of the early 21st century have, for the most part, continued with the bland styling due to safety engineering, even more common platforms, and aerodynamic styling for the sake of fuel economy.
- Yes... Today's cars are safer, more fuel efficient, handle better and more comfortable to operate but they lack the style, romance and fascination of the cars made in the early years.
I had the pleasure of working for a vendor to Bill Harrah's Car Restoration Shops in the early '70s. It was my favorite sales call and I always took time to visit his collection in Sparks, NV. I remember he had a display of Packards for every year they were made. He also had a Ford display for every year; when a new model came out he bought one and placed it at the end of the row. You could see the evolution of the automotive industry, through design and technology, by walking down those rows of Fords and Packards. You can't do that with todays cars; their designs are blah, ugly and/or weird, and most of them look alike.
Although there will always be car collectors, the diehard classic car aficionados are dying off and the newer generations aren't as passionate about the cars they grew up with and they don't have a connection to the classic cars of our generation. As you pointed out, it's about supply and demand. The supply is diminishing but the demand will diminish at a faster pace as the boomers die off. The classics of today's collectors will wind up in museums or scrap heaps.
Art Van Allen
Ty O'Neal - October 14, 2013 9:34AM
Ok Larry, I'll bite!
I think this article is poorly written because the logic behind it is terribly flawed.
- As mentioned in your article to paraphrase, the cars of the 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, are pretty much either crap or they essentially all look the same with gas milage, safety as their primary concern and style as secondary. With this said you are implying that the people who grew up around the later model cars will not desire to own or collect the cars from the previous 70 years of car manufacturing?
This argument is silly, because:
In starting this in no particular order, the supply of most of these cars is diminishing in numbers (except for the fiberglass bodies that are being made of cars whose numbers have already declined to the point of non-affordability), however the population of the country is increasing. So the percentage of people that would buy cars they didn't have any direct emotional connection to because of the cars were made before they had any personal memory of them, would still be on the increase, as my further points will show.
Further, "Guys Love Cars", and more often now, "Girls Love Cars" as well. In the 20's-60's most women were not even allowed to buy homes or cars, because most women at that point didn't work and were expected to not being able to bring in a livable income. Again, another reason demand will stay strong into the future.
Further, Pre-1976 cars at least where I live, you can pretty much do anything to a car you want to without worrying about and EPA standards. This gives you millions of ways of customizing a car and making it yours. This is always popular, and always will be.
Further, the cars are easier to work on, so if you want to learn how, for those on a budget, simple hand tools will keep older cars on the road longer.
Further, "Planned Obsolescence", was not as big a part of production that as it is now. You can still find many 40+ year old cars on the road in the southern parts of the United States and these are not even the nice collectible cars you were referring to, these are just the plain Jane family cars of the past still in use.
Further, people want something they can be proud of, and with the cars that all look alike, you have to get up close to any new car to read what it is to know whether it is a $90,000 or a $16,000 car. For those who cannot afford a Ferrari, which is almost everyone, the older cars give the owner something special, that can be seen 3 lanes away and people will turn their heads to see what it is, or who is driving it. (When I saw my first "Bat Mobile", I darn near ran my Grand Parents '65 Riviera into the back of another car. I would have hated to even try and explain what a "Bat Mobile" was not to mention why it was worth crashing their favorite car over.)
Further, the only place I know of whose cars have sucked visually longer than ours is just about anywhere in the world. Our American Iron even the ordinary stuff is proudly finding it's way all over the world in huge numbers. Go on You tube and type in car show in Moscow, Poland, England, France and almost any other country, and you find thousands of American cars all over the world that, "Nobody grew up with". In fact many had never even seen them until the internet became widely popular.
With just these few points (I actually had a lot more I just didn't have time to type them all.) The market for American Classic Cars is still in its infancy. I don't even remember is it 4, 5, or 6 Billion people in the world now?
I don't know and it really doesn't matter because, I do know as other nations develop around the world. (Hello China or India for starters?) There are so many people out there just by the shear numbers, that as soon as that small percentage sees the styling, or performance or uniqueness, will want to buy something special for themselves, as many are now, and will be able to pay big bucks for them in the future.
Finally my favorite,
"We talk about classic cars being "rolling sculpture." Well, at more than $50 million, classic cars finally are reaching financial plateaus previously inhabited only by fine art.
We are all victims of "rolling sculpture". How many of us before we could drive, or were even interested in dating, didn't see a car and think, "Wow that is really cool", "Bad Ass", "Sexy", "Hot", or "someday I'm going to have one of those"?
That is exactly what good sculpture should do for people, except this is art you can go out on the town in, show exclusivity in, or impress the "other work of art" that make our breath short, our mouths dry, and puts butterflies in our stomach.
Good Art is a combination of design, materials, and theme that arouses us as emotional beings. Car's can be collected, but people don't pay millions upon millions of dollars for something they think they can find in a garbage heap.
Art like cars is usually limited by our pocketbook, well styled, cutting edge engineered, and limited cars will always find the biggest pocketbooks. Some of us can afford a 67 VW Bug (Nothing against these in the least) and even though there were millions of them made for 40+ years with only minor differences between them, a nice one will still cost a pretty penny considering it was a car sold as the "Car for everyone", or "People's Car".* People have to get from one place to another, and they would rather do it in some kind of style than none at all.
These secondary benefits are how cars will always retain a larger market for the world than a painting, or piece of shaped marble.
Unless you were trying to be ridiculously provoking, I hope you will rethink your paper.
I would like to hear from you.
*(I did think of the early Ford's, but they did change a lot over 45 years)