2018 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Arizona

Mark C. Bach
2018 Barrett-Jackson Auction in Arizona
Well, the Arizona auctions just ended as I am writing this. In just one week, seven different auction houses sold nearly 2,700 vehicles for a total of almost $250 million. Altogether the seven auction houses; Barrett-Jackson, Russo and Steele, Silver, Gooding and Company, Bonhams, RM Sotheby and Worldwide had twenty days of auctions in just the one week of January 2018.
That is a ton of cars and a ton and a half of money, but what isn't being said is probably just as important.
Granted, lots of cars sold at atmospheric prices, like Gooding and Company selling a 1965 Ferrari 275GTB Special for $8,085,000. For that price it better be special! You might have heard that Barrett-Jackson sold the blue 2017 Ford GT for $2.5 million.
The proceeds went to a great charity, the Ignite program for the Autism Society of North Carolina. This supercar was sold by collector Ron Pratte and will benefit a charity that NASCAR crew chief Ray Evernham has been personally involved with.
Barrett-Jackson sells some cars each year for charities and they always waive their commissions, so all the proceeds can go the charities. They actually are promoting heart attack prevention for the entire year at their auctions. Craig Jackson donated and sold a 1988 Corvette, a 35th-anniversary edition for $200,000 with the proceeds going to the American Heart Association.

So here is another side of the coin. Roughly 17% of all the cars did not sell. Most auction houses allow some cars to sell at reserve, meaning the seller has a minimum or "reserve" price that they want to sell the car for. If the car doesn't reach that price point the car goes home with the seller. So five hundred cars didn't sell. Generally speaking, the lower priced cars sold easily but once the cars started peaking at over seven figures, these million dollar cars just weren't moving. For readers of Classic Car Round-Up, that means that our type of cars is still in demand and hot.

I remember when million dollar cars were the norm for Saturday night, but now Barrett-Jackson's top ten sellers (excluding charity cars) included only five cars that topped $500,000. So to me, that means the high-end cars are not moving as quickly. And this wasn't limited to the big monster, Barrett-Jackson. Worldwide couldn't sell the 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770K that was used by Adolph Hitler during World War II. Though, I think the seller has an over-inflated view of what that car was worth. Granted the auction houses overall had 32 cars sell for at least $1 million. But two Jaguar D-types couldn’t sell despite $9 million dollar bids. A reminder that the sales prices include a buyer's premium and the total sales may still change a bit as deals are finalized.

To put things in perspective, the 2015 week of auctions sold fewer cars and had total sales of nearly $300 million. So the market is dropping but perhaps only at the top end of the collector car market. Lots of cars were selling at fair, market prices. Typically the Arizona auctions set the trends for the year so we'll watch closely and see what 2018 brings to the collector car market. And for insights into the truck trends, be sure and read my column in Truck Round-Up.

©2018 Mark C. Bach 
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