Shifting Gears (183)

In the collector car world, January is Arizona time. Last year, in an economic atmosphere that seemed considerably more bleak, 1,726 cars went to new owners, and $133m changed hands.This year, I predict we'll see a slight uptick in sales, perhaps 10%. If the surprising strength of the recent Sotheby's New York art sale is any indication ($182m in sales against $163m in high estimates), collector confidence is on the rebound. Credit is still extremely difficult to get, and home equity loans are non-existent (as is home equity in many cases). That means the $50,000 to $100,000 cars that were…

Quirky Trumps Practical

Written by December 2009
For the past three months, I've managed to use the SCM 1964 Volvo 544 as my primary family car, and as my daily driver. I've put just over 2,000 miles on it. In September, my wife Wendie and I and our two-year-old Bradley piled into it for the 400-mile round-trip journey to Sunriver, Oregon, where I was the emcee of the 13th annual Festival of Cars. It isn't a Ferrari 250 GTE, Porsche 356, Maserati 3500 GT, or a Lotus Elan +2. Even on the short list of collectible, four-seat vintage cars, the 544 surely brings up the rear. But…

Steady as She Goes

Written by November 2009
Weighed against last year's drop in stocks, housing prices or contemporary art, 14% seems inconsequential Every week, we send out the "SCM Insider" email, chock full of breaking news, auction results, select videos, and a reader poll to more than 30,000 rabid collectors like you. Our question in the June 30 newsletter asked readers to choose one of four outcomes for the 2009 Monterey weekend.Forty-four percent of you thought things would be grim, and that $100m, the amount realized in 2006, was all we would see. Twenty-six percent thought sales would be stable at about $140m. Twenty-five percent were feeling…
Over the next few months, nearly 750,000 clunkers are going to be scrapped. Not dismantled, mind you, but smashed and melted into their base, formative materials.Whether or not this is good government policy we'll leave to our friends at The Economist. And others can debate the relative environmental effects; for instance, some claim the energy expended to build a new car, no matter how mileage-frugal it is, far outweighs any potential carbon footprint savings realized when compared with keeping an old one on the road.In the past, when various states have proposed or enacted their own versions of cash-for-clunkers bills,…

Pebble Beach, 2020

Written by September 2009
Each year, we call this our "Pebble Beach" issue. We wrap it up about one month before the Monterey week, and through the coordination of our printer and the trucking companies, copies magically appear at nearly every Monterey venue, from the Lodge at Pebble Beach to Concorso Italiano. By its nature, SCM is both reflective and predictive. The primary mission of the magazine is to interpret the current market, which we do through our Profiles and Auction Reports. That part is reflective, and I believe the team here-both in the office and in the field-does a terrific job of looking…
July is an oddly quiet month in the collector car world. While there are auctions going on, vintage car shamans are still picking apart the results of the RM Maranello ($28.4m), Bonhams Monaco ($6.2m), and Mecum Indy ($33.6m) sales.And through those results, they are attempting to cast their stones and predict what will happen in Monterey. Questions are many. Is no reserve the way to go, as the collective buying power of the crowd will be great? How many 4-cams is too many 4-cams, spread over all the auctions? Are second-tier collectibles like Maserati 3500 GTs going to hold strong,…
It's been nearly ten years since I last drove in the California Mille. Dodge was the primary sponsor then, and I enjoyed the Northern California countryside from behind the wheel of a Viper.After growing up driving Alfas, with their puny 4-cylinder, 80-ci engines, mashing the throttle on a 450-horsepower, 488-ci V10 rocket sled was like lighting the fuse on a Saturn V. With a small-displacement foreign car, passing on a two-lane road takes cunning and guile. Can you really get past that mini-van before the next turn? What if the Taurus speeds up when you pull alongside? Does that Winnebago…
It's been nearly ten years since I last drove in the California Mille. Dodge was the primary sponsor then, and I enjoyed the Northern California countryside from behind the wheel of a Viper.After growing up driving Alfas, with their puny 4-cylinder, 80-ci engines, mashing the throttle on a 450-horsepower, 488-ci V10 rocket sled was like lighting the fuse on a Saturn V. With a small-displacement foreign car, passing on a two-lane road takes cunning and guile. Can you really get past that mini-van before the next turn? What if the Taurus speeds up when you pull alongside? Does that Winnebago…
The Grays Harbor Indoor Professional Rodeo is a three-day event, and includes Bronc Riding, Bull Riding, Calf Roping, Breakaway Roping, Steer Wrestling, Team Roping, Barrel Racing, and more.My wife's father has a race-engine shop outside Elma, Washington, where the rodeo is held. Located between Olympia and Aberdeen in central-western Washington, it's just two hours from our home in Portland.Two hours, and about one hundred years-at least as far as rodeo is concerned. We collector car types agonize about where the next generation of collectors is going to come from. Questions like, "How will someone who grows up driving a Honda…
I propose we take a break from the constant bric-a-brac of the market. At least for a few days, let's transport ourselves back to a simpler era, when the fundamental question wasn't how much your motorcar was worth, but whether it could actually travel 60 miles without breaking down.In conjunction with Steve Austin, we will be hosting a tour to the 2009 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It's been on my short list for some time, and with the appreciation of the dollar against the pound, this seemed like a propitious time to head across the pond.The tour, October…