One of the most common questions a collector, or just casual enthusiast, wants to know is, where is the market at? According to J.R. Amantea of GT Motor Cars, “This is a question we get asked every day. Our first-time clients ask, sometimes multiple times on separate weekly calls. It’s a very valid question. The collector car market is different than it was two, three, five or even ten years ago.”
With several auction houses out there, and several other sales outlet, there are multiple ways to sell a car, but also new clients coming into the market. The market is flooded with choices and newcomers. It takes a seasoned professional to be able to navigate the waters intelligently.
“You can’t go wrong buying the best quality example of whichever car you are looking to purchase. What does, ‘best quality example' mean? Quality refers to a few different facets from: level of restoration, documentation to support the car (service records, restoration receipts, letters from previous owners, photo documentation of restoration, authentication from judging organizations). Even in a down market, you can still sell a ‘quality’ example. There is a saying that goes in the car hobby when referring to a great example, ‘you can never pay too much, you pay too soon.’”, according to the group.
One hack to getting the most information out of the market is getting out and going to events and seeing what the atmosphere is like. What once was dominated by concours correct, museum quality cars, is now a market dominated by people who are actually using their show cars.
Read the rest from J.R. Amantea, Dealer Principal-GT Motor Cars here:
"I came from a world (the Corvette world) where it was forbidden to have a car see daylight, I mean, if there was a chance of rain, everyone on the show field was running for the car covers and plastic as if the car should never experience precipitation a day in its life. Conversely, I became involved in the Ferrari world a few years ago and attended Cavallino events; it was the complete opposite of the Corvette judging atmosphere; it rained, the cars remained in place, nobody ran for the hills, and believe it or not, the cars didn’t melt. Cars are meant to be driven, they are meant to be used, it’s our time as their current owners to be their curators and leave our own history with them.
We find that our newer collector base is buying a collector car like the kind they grew up with.
Many newer collectors are showing up to these events with their new acquisition and proudly displaying it at a cars & coffee, concours or using it at a rally. During this early stage, the new collector is being exposed to the vintage cars of earlier generations and during this period of becoming acquainted with the older cars, they develop an appreciation for them.
Let me give you an example of a cycle that I see; a client comes in and has a passion for cars from the past 30 years (Ferrari F40, Porsche 959, Porsche 993 Turbo S, a 550 Ferrari, Porsche Carrera GT); they acquire these cars that are investment grade pieces (meaning they are the best example they can find, low miles, service history, unique ownership, etc.) They take these cars to different events and during these events they see an icon (Porsche 356, Ferrari 365 Daytona, Ferrari 275, Hemi-Cuda Convertible, a 65 Shelby GT350). After seeing these cars a few times they appreciate the art work and engineering that went into them; the cars begin to speak to them. After a year or two we see our clients beginning to expand their horizons and acquire vintage cars that have spoken to them.
Let me give you two examples. One of our clients is under 50, we sold him a few vintage Corvettes, he loved them but felt like he wanted to expand into the modern exotics from Ferrari’s to Porsche as well. He did, and after playing the game with the Ferrari and Porsche dealers or buying five cars to get “on the list,” he called me one day and said, “sell everything, sell all of these exotics, it’s not me, my passion is vintage muscle cars, I want the best documented examples you can find.”
I personally grew up around muscle cars and they have always been my favorite genre of cars. I have a passion for cars I grew up with in the 90’s and 2000’s. It wasn’t until I started working with one client that had vintage Ferrari’s, Gullwing Mercedes and a vintage Bugatti type 57SC that I found a passion for pre-war cars. In a million years, I would never envision myself having a passion for these, “Pre-War” cars, but the first time I saw it sitting there in his garage, in all Black, it looked so sinister. One of my very good friends who is my age is a, “Pre-War” vintage automobile specialist; I discussed the types of pre-war cars that spoke to me and the styles I appreciate (a French style, as they have a swooping design that looks fast even sitting still). He opened my eyes up to several other pre-war examples that I have on my list of future cars and I feel like I am seeing a new type of car for the first time again. It’s exciting when your passion is renewed and new, fresh chapter opens.
Are the Auction Houses the main price indicator?
This question is asked daily, even by the same prospective buyer, multiple times after they watch an auction. Over the past few years we have seen some auction houses ramp up the number of auctions they put on each year and we have seen a substantial increase in the volume of cars that auction houses run over the block.
We have been to several auctions this year and this is what we see. The overall quality of cars at the auction houses across the board has been dropping off; repeat cars are selling at auction, multiple examples of a car are being sold at the same auction. The cars at the auctions are bringing what they are worth for the quality they represent. If a car is a great example with great pedigree and represents the best quality, it is selling for strong money. If a car is an inferior example with run of the mill type of quality, it is selling where it should.
Picture that you are investing in a corporate bond, you have different levels of quality from a “AAA-Investment grade” bond all the way down to a “Junk-Bond/High-Yield” bond. From the outside the companies may appear the same, they are both public companies and each has a great brand, but when we look into the financials, one is outstanding, and one is leveraged with debt.
For example, let’s compare two 1967 Corvette 427/435’s. One has every award in the country you can obtain, documentation, this car has been seen by every expert and is a (AAA) example, another car that looks exactly as this car, but does not have any judging, does not have any history or documentation and may or may not be, “matching numbers” (could be a “B”, “CCC”, or “Junk”) rating. The average person that is new to the hobby does not know the difference until they are explained this, the only thing they see is the one car that rolled across the block and “appears,” like an example that is a AAA piece. They don’t know why the auction car is valued “x” and the other car is valued at “2x” the price.
Same applies when evaluating a newer Ferrari or Porsche. If a car is fully serviced and up to date compared to another car that is the same year, color and model, the one that is serviced will command a substantial premium.
When investing in a collector car, or any car for that matter, solicit the advice of a professional.
The auction houses are not the only place to acquire a car, if you chose to go this route, you should hire someone that specializes in collector cars to inspect the car for you and look at any records the car may have. Do your homework before you put your hand up. If a car is at a dealer, build a rapport with them, ask them questions and have them give you a background on the car, take the trip out to inspect the car or hire someone locally to do this for you. Make sure to do your due diligence. The hobby is alive and well, for those of you who haven’t dipped your toe in the water, educate yourself, be open minded, attend a local cars and coffee event and you will start to understand the excitement and passion that surrounds the collector car hobby."
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