Interest In Classic Cars Remains High Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic

Sep 15, 2020 3 min read
Interest In Classic Cars Remains High Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic

The virus isn’t killing people’s love of collector vehicles.

When the COVID-19 lockdowns began back in the spring, there was a real concern that coronavirus could ravage the classic and collector car market along with mainstream vehicle sales. Fortunately, those fears have proven to be a lot of hand wringing without substance. In fact, sales of classic and high-end collector cars have been strong throughout the pandemic. Some even claim demand has grown stronger throughout the shutdowns.

photo credit: Daimler

That’s an odd movement considering so many iconic car auctions have been canceled. This has included Monterey Car Week and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. With that kind of disruption, the natural thing to expect would be for the market to deflate as everyone waits to see what’s coming next.

Part of what’s been buoying up collector car sales throughout the age of social distancing has been online auctions. Once considered the red headed stepchild of the industry since experts agreed nobody in their right mind would bid on a high-value car they couldn’t inspect before it rolled onto the auction block, online auctions have proven that collectors today are more than ok with them.

A recent report out of the UK pointed out an interesting fact: Gooding held its first auction event in the island nation, so business is good. In fact, David Gooding told local reporters that COVID-19 and the shutdowns have increased his customers’ desire to buy collectible cars. After all, they’re missing the shows, cruises, and other events so it’s a way to enjoy all that on their own.

photo credit: Ferrari

David Gooding spoke with Bloomberg back in April, noting even then that with auction events being canceled or switched to online-only, private sales of high-value cars were going strong. These transactions aren’t known to the public, but Gooding did say one car would set a world-record price for its genre. He even noted that the prices vehicles are selling for were unexpectedly high, signaling a lot of “pent-up demand.”

RM Auctions held its 50th annual Auburn Fall collector car auction earlier this month. The in-person event seemed like a bit of a gamble since many have been hand-wringing that enthusiasts wouldn’t be willing to risk attending such events. However, the auction which had 500 car lots and 400 items of automobilia saw 91% of those lots sold, raking in $17.6 million. RM reported that over 45% of bidders were first-time RM clients, yet another signal that the market is growing, not shrinking.

CarDealer magazine reported in the middle of the summer that modern classic cars are also seeing strong sales. This includes exotic supercars, but demand for sports and muscle cars built in this century have also been strong on this side of the globe.

photo credit: Ford

The big question everyone seems to be asking is why demand for collector and classic cars has remained so high? There are many potential explanations. For starters, the economic turbulence caused by the shutdowns weren’t like a normal market contraction. It was government-imposed, not market forces at work. Businesses which were able to continue operating through the shutdown have often been doing just fine. That includes the many online auctions and classified websites.

People who collect vintage cars aren’t looking for a quick score. They’re usually in a car for the long haul, whether it’s because the vehicle represents some nostalgic value or they’re just patient investors. Instead of being short-sighted about a brief obstacle to the economy with the coronavirus shutdowns, car collectors have realized this too shall pass.

With everyone spending more time at home there’s been a quest to pick up new hobbies or become more invested in current hobbies. For many, that’s involved acquiring classic or modern collectible cars. Driving around in these vehicles allows for a fun way to get out of the house and enjoy a relaxing cruise. So, it’s a great outlet for anyone experiencing COVID cabin fever.

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