Shifting Gears (196)

  Having me co-host a television show about cars sold at collector-car auctions is like turning a chocoholic loose in the Hershey factory. When evaluating cars for “What’s My Car Worth?” a TV show I co-host on the Velocity channel, I find myself slipping from the objective to the subjective. “This ’67 Healey BJ8 drives nicely and will probably sell for $80k” moves all too quickly to: “I’d really like to own this car. It’s been months since I’ve had a Big Healey.” So it should have come as no surprise that on a recent Sunday I found myself waiting…
  The market has redefined itself over the past decade. We’ve watched it happen from the SCM crow’s nest. From multi-million-dollar catalog auction sales to text-only postings on Craigslist, we keep a finger on the ever-changing pulse of the market. Prices have soared in the category we follow most closely — sports cars from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. Yet, we find a logic to most of these high fliers, and I believe they are indicative of a healthy, thoughtful market. Collectors, voting with their dollars, have neatly divided all collectible cars into three primary categories. I call them “The…
It was a weekend to remember. At 6 a.m. on a Saturday in February this year, my daughter Alexandra joined me on a flight from Portland, OR, to San Jose, CA. We’d bought a 1964 Volvo 1800S last July, and it was time to bring it home. Mike Dudek of iRoll Motors picked us up at San Jose International Airport, and soon we were at his shop in San Martin, south of San Jose. The Volvo was better than I expected — by a long shot. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it had a “lived and loved” feel…
  This all started innocently enough. A friend gave me a ride to a Porsche event in her black 993. I hadn’t had a sip of that clattering air-cooled elixir for some time, and it was intoxicating. I immediately emailed my good friend and Porsche guru Jim Schrager, and asked him for the best buy in late-model air-cooled 911s (the 993 models). His response was immediate and definite. Forget the 993s. A first-gen 996 turbo with a Tiptronic (automatic) was his favorite. He owned one and drove it daily. He felt the turbo was a much-improved engine over the stock…
We had just crested the 4,311-foot Cardenal Antonio Samoré Pass, crossing from Argentina into Chile. The 1969 Series 1.5 Jaguar XKE we were driving was performing brilliantly. It was a clear day, and we were surrounded by the snow-covered peaks of the Andes. This was the second day of the 26th Annual 1000 Millas Sport de la República Argentina — the premier classic-car rally in South America. SCMer Martin Sucari introduced me to this rally eight years ago. This year, the Club de Automóviles Sport, which hosts the rally, invited me back for another go. Damian Pozzoli graciously provided us…
  Our collector car world has four epicenters, and each has its own anchor event. The vintage car calendar starts with Monterey in August, followed by Arizona in January, Paris in February and Amelia Island in March. The signature event for the Monterey Classic Car Week is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It follows the auctions, marque shows and historic races. All eyes are on the cars displayed on the 18th Fairway that Sunday. Five months later, and now nearly upon us, is Round Two: Arizona Auction Week. In the desert, it is Barrett-Jackson that is the once and future…
There are many stock phrases in the vocabularies of car collectors. They range from “that’s one of one” to “wonderful patina” to “I never should have sold it.” The one that seems to get me in the most trouble is, “Well, I’m not really looking, but…” You know the drill. You have a vague interest in a certain car. In my case, it was a Volvo P1800, the sports coupe Roger Moore drove in the television show “The Saint.” Not yet admitting that I was sliding down the slippery slope towards ownership, I started asking a few gurus what the…

Priced Fresh Daily

Written by November 2014
At the highest level of the U.S.-based catalog-sale collector car auctions, Gooding & Company and RM Auctions are the major players, with Bonhams now a hard-charging, fast-rising contender. All three of these companies are now going toe-to-toe in Monterey, Scottsdale and Amelia Island. There will be no shortage of high-dollar fireworks as billionaires compete for delectable multi-million dollar collectibles. That’s not to say that there aren’t other important, high-end players including Barrett-Jackson, Auctions America, Mecum, Russo and Steele, and Worldwide — and the first-time-effort of Rick Cole in Monterey deserves a nod. But during Monterey Classic Car Week, all eyes…
  Is it fair to say that we love our cars? Over time, we develop relationships with them based on the things we have done with them — from changing spark plugs to repairing upholstery to going on tours and rallies. In a way, a favorite car is like a faithful Labrador retriever. It sits and waits for us, and when we turn the key, it jumps to its wheels and wags its exhaust pipes. Our favorite cars exist to be our companions in adventure. But a relationship with a pet comes to a natural end. Dogs and cats age…
It was late on a Wednesday afternoon, and I was hoisting the Coleman tent and sleeping bags onto the roof rack of our Defender 90 in preparation for the weekend’s vintage Land Rover tour. Then the phone rang. It was Jamie Knight, Group Director of the Bonhams Motoring department. “Hello Keith,” he said. “It’s Bonhams’ 25th anniversary, and we’re having a little dinner to celebrate it at our London headquarters. I hoped you and your daughter would be able to attend.” “Terrific,” I replied. “When?” “Monday.” I thought about it for a second. I was leaving for the Rover trip…
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