This is where the collector car market is going, say the experts
Seller strong-arm tactics
The subsequent effect has been two-fold: firstly, sellers have had the power to strong-arm the auction houses into taking on cars with unrealistic estimates attached and, in the resulting rush to populate an increasing number of auction catalogs, they’ve been less selective with the cars they have taken on. “All the auction houses have been subjected to a drop in sale rates, and we must all adapt to the market trends,” says Group Director of the Bonhams Motoring Department, James Knight. “The sort of cars that are readily available and can be bought every day of the year – Jaguar E-types, Porsche Carrera RS 2.7s, Ferrari 275 GTBs etc – have been subjects of a feeding frenzy over the past few years, and that has naturally cooled off.” Gord Duff, Car Specialist at RM Sotheby’s, notes similar observations: “Depending on the marque, the value adjustments can be largely explained by simple supply and demand. Take air-cooled Porsches and sports cars from the 80s and 90s, for example, which had all been on such a rise in the last few years – resulting in a flood of examples on the market, and in turn, a cooling in prices.”
Many experts believe the ‘leveling out’ is also due to fewer choice examples of such cars being sent to market. “Almost all of the HAGI indices saw a drop in January at the time of the Scottsdale auctions, and this is reflective of the fact that many people perceived the cars offered there to be of lower quality,” says Dietrich Hatlapa. Respected collector car dealer Gregor Fisken concurs: “Cars that are repeatable and often of average quality have quite rightly cooled off. In contrast, we’ve negotiated the sale of four significant cars since Rétromobile, and I can tell you that each was sold for a sum far greater than when it was sold last when the market was supposedly at its peak. From our point of view, this upper sector of the market is holding up rather well, and will continue to do so as long as cars are priced accurately.” This unwavering quest for the best is nothing new, as James Knight remembers: “Even when the market was on its knees in the summer of 1991, we sold a collection of rare, highly collectible cars – those I’d refer to as ‘best of breed’ – for tremendous prices.”
Balance of power
Onwards and upwards?