Shifting Gears (194)

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…

The New Market

Written by April 2009
Since the end of the Scottsdale auctions, the flow of emails, letters, and phone calls has been relentless. Half are shrill diatribes, demanding that SCM support the market. Any description of prices as falling, or buyers being cautious, is viewed as sabotaging the market.The second half contends that SCM is soft-pedaling the truth and doing our readers a disservice by not pointing out just how bad things really are. They accuse us of whitewashing the trends of the past six months, and painting a happy face on an Emmett Kelly-style frowning clown.In our opinion, reality lies somewhere in between these…

One Fine Day

Written by March 2009
Sometimes you just need a break. So last Saturday, we pulled out the 1965 Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce and the 2000 Boxster S. SCM Legal Analyst John Draneas and wife Carlyn fired up their Lotus Elise (or would have had it actually started; more about that later), and CM Contributor Michael Pierce and his significant other Linda unleashed their 5-speed Dinan-tuned 1988 BMW 7-series.Our goal was a boutique wine-making facility, the Carlton Wine Studio, in Carlton Oregon-in the heart of Oregon's Pinot Noir country, about 40 miles from SCM world headquarters.While the supposed intent of the trip was to taste…

"As on a Darkling Plain."

Written by February 2009
If ever we needed a respite from being pummeled by bad news, it is now. Scarcely a day goes by without a headline about an investment firm failing, a newspaper declaring bankruptcy, or a car company down to its last few billion dollars.The Dow continues to swing unpredictably like the needle of a magnet exposed to lodestone; nearly 40% of its value has evaporated. And the U.S. market rates a winner compared to that of most European and Asian stock markets, some of which have losses in the 80% range. Even the weather seems to be colder, wetter, and darker…
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…