Shifting Gears (190)

We've had quite a run-up in the past few years, so a modest correction will still leave most collectors far ahead of where they were in 2004 At SCM, we sometimes feel like we are in a small spotter's ship, stationed in the middle of an ocean. From time to time as we crest a swell, we see an auction analyst sending us his report in terse Morse-like code: "Bonhams does $7.3 million at Owls Head, bidding strong for good stuff," or "RM sells $23.7 million in London, sales down from last year, yet McLaren brings record $4 million."Our job…
The headlines have been relentless. "Dow plunges another 600 points." "Consumer confidence slips again." "Banks in every country facing liquidation."Those of us who have been around the collector car market for a while can't help but think of the crash of 1987, which started the flow of funds into the collector car market. The trillions of dollars being pulled from stock markets around the world today will be put somewhere, and it's not unreasonable to think that some portion of it will go toward old cars.But there are some differences from 1987. Then, collector cars were just beginning to make…
The continued buoyancy of the market at the top end is proof that America has the largest number of wealthy people of any nation in the world The Monterey vintage week takes up about four months of every year. There are two months of preparation for it, which at SCM means poring over each auction catalog as it arrives, and placing our bets in the office pool concerning what the grand total for the weekend will be. Then there is the actual week of activities, with so many things going on that it takes a month of energy to absorb…

Just Be Glad It Runs

Written by October 2008
The cockpit swathed us in leather-trimmed functionality; ancillary systems like heating and coolant temperature control were just afterthoughts "Have you noticed the oil streak that runs across the golf course and ends up under your Alfa?"That was the comment I was greeted with as I ended the Monte Shelton Northwest Classic Rally. A 500-mile, two-day event, it celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.As it is sponsored by the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon, there was a predictable bevy of vintage Alfas, mostly Giulia and Giulietta Spiders, but also a smattering of GTVs, GTAs, and even a lightweight 1957 Sprint Veloce…
In 1988, I had just finished a stint as a sales manager for Ferrari dealer Ron Tonkin at his Portland Gran Turismo store, and was beginning to sell collector cars, by the container-full, to the then-hot European market. While at the GT store, I had discovered Gerald Roush's Ferrari Market Letter, the grandfather of all collector car value publications. Later, a Maserati Mistral I bought and sold had some correspondence in it from Frank Mandarano and a copy of his fledgling Maserati Market Letter. I became aware of the Porsche Market Letter as well.As an Alfa guy, it seemed odd…
The Insider's Seminar is the one time each year that SCMers can come together to discuss the state of the market and the trends to come More than 20 years have passed since my first vintage-car-themed Monterey visit. The tale below is now an oft-heard one, repeated by nearly Monterey veteran. Back then the vintage races were by far the most important part of the weekend, with the concours at Pebble Beach a distant second, and a young man named Rick Cole put on a collector car auction in a downtown Monterey hotel (after he was denied permission to hold…
"My brother and I just wanted to have a car that would always be the fastest at a stoplight drag race, and it has been" Driving a 427 Cobra with sidepipes and an open exhaust is a ticket to be the badboy you always dreamed of being in high school. Within seconds of turning the key, you're revving the engine every chance you get, especially in underpasses and tunnels, and generally hoping that cows will stop giving milk because of your roaring drive by.Bill and Bud Jones provided the opportunity for Wendie and me to drive their 427, CSX 3005,…
It's a miserable, wet, 45-degree day in Portland as I compose this. And for the first time in a decade, I have missed the 44th annual Always-in-April Portland Swap Meet.Billed as the largest event of its kind west of the Mississippi River, it claims to have over 4,200 vendor stalls and 50,000 shoppers. An event held at Portland International Raceway, just next door, attracts a large crowd as well.But as I have said before, swap meets of all kinds are rapidly losing their relevance in today's collecting world. Fifteen years ago, when I owned a restoration shop, Exotics Northwest, I…
As I look at these pictures of my children, Alexandra and Bradley, taken 16 years apart, I wonder what kind of automotive world they will inherit.We Baby Boomers are the last generation to experience raw, unregulated cars as daily drivers; those built from 1955 through 1974 represent a golden age of motoring. Engineers and stylists answered only to their own whims and the marketplace, with no concerns about government safety and environmental regulations.Egg-shell bumpers on a 1967 Duetto? No problem. Gas-guzzling Hemi engine in a 1966 Dodge Coronet? Why not. The cars from that era had an ebullient sense about…
At times, being at the epicenter of a collector car weekend is like sitting in a command bunker. In Scottsdale, SCM's boots-on-the-ground team included nearly 20 market analysts, staff, and support crew.During the weekend, they fanned out to all the events, notebooks and cameras in hand, and began submitting their reports back to HQ. Each sale or no-sale immediately became part of the emerging new market reality. They also engaged in numerous conversations with buyers and sellers, getting a feel for the mood of the market.A pattern quickly emerged, which we detail in the Market Reports this month beginning on…