“Education is the best provision for old age.”
-Aristotle, from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers
Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. took in $4.6 million as classic cars began crossing the block Tuesday and experts expect a good week ahead for all six auction companies showcasing cars in the Phoenix area.
“All the auction companies will do well,”Keith Martin, publisher of Sports Car Market and American Car Collector, told attendees at the Phoenix Automotive Press Association auction week preview Tuesday night. Prices on high-end cars finally have made the huge correction from the 1990s crash.
Two Fords tied for the top sale as Barrett-Jackson was the first to kick off bidding. A 2013 Ford Mustang 2-Door Coupe and a 1969 Ford Talladega Fastback both fetched $110,000, the former one of two sales benefiting cancer research byTranslational Genomics Research Institutein Phoenix. Attendance already is up 25 percent over 2013, officials say.
A new event also helped rev up auction week, the inaugural Arizona Concours d’Elegance, drawing 2,000 spectators to the Arizona Biltmore Sunday.
John Carlson, the Concours chief judge and another panelist at the PAPA preview, was very impressed with Phoenix’s first effort. That’s high praise coming from the man who’s judged many Concours, including the renowned Pebble Beach event.
Ian Kelleher of RM Auctions says 2013 was a banner year but 2014 is expected to be even better. The Phoenix auction tallied up $38 million of the company’s total $440 million sales last year.
One of RM’s highlights is expected to be a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider with a sales estimate between $7 million and $9 million.
A couple Ferraris, a 1961 350 GT Coupe Special and a 1967 330 GTS, are expected to headline the Gooding & Co. auction.
One of the Bonhams’ star cars is expected to be a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Supercharged Gran Sport Zagato Spider, fetching between $2.4 million and $2.7 million.
Million-dollar estimates aside, the PAPA panel doesn’t expect any superstars. “I don’t see any $20 million cars here,” Martin says. Sales will be strong, though, because collectors have money to spend.
As for advising would-be buyers, the experts continue to advocate research and to focus on what interests you and raises your passion.
You want a Concours trophy, go to the store and buy your own, Carlson says. “The key for me and a lot of my friends is to have fun with our cars.”
A number of crowd members at the PAPA event expressed concern that the classic car industry would wane as baby boomers fade out of the picture.
It’s hard to tell how the industry will evolve with the next generation, Martin says. Boomers know the feel of a 1960s classic, but younger kids don’t. Plus, older cars are the “real deal” as designers followed their passion versus so many government regulations, he says. “Cars have moved from personal passion to utility.”
Carlson is more confident about the future of classic car collecting. “I think we are living in the greatest muscle car era of all time,” he says, noting high-performance rides such as Camaros and Corvettes.
Another panelist, Corky Coker, president of Coker Tire, which makes tires for vintage cars and star of the new Travel Channel show “Backroads Gold,” says there is more competition for people’s interests today. But based on his company’s tire sales, the industry is thriving.
Plus, blogs and TV coverage of classic cars are a shot in the arm to the industry, Coker says. People see a car go across the block that’s like one they may have and decide to get it fixed up.
“The impact of this weekend and the increase in values is really affecting our industry,” he says.
While sales most auctioned cars will average over six figures, Mitch Silver of Silver Auctions says of his event, “You don’t have to bring your big checkbook.”
The annual Silver sale at Fort McDowell Casino is often called the week’s most fun event for its informal style. There will be $80,000 cars but also some in the 20s, Silver says. And $5,000 cars, “I’m going to have a handful of them too.”
- Barrett-Jackson, Jan. 12-19, WestWorld, Scottsdale
- RM Auctions, Jan. 16-17, Arizona Biltmore
- Gooding & Co., Jan. 17-18, adjacent to Fashion Square Mall
- Russo & Steele, Jan. 15-19, 18601 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale
- Bonhams, Jan. 16, Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
- Silver Auctions, Jan. 17-18, Fort McDowell Casino
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