Keith’s Blog: A Tire-Kicking Holiday

With Wayne Carini and Donald Osborne at Bonhams

 

For the first time in ten years, I’ve just had a holiday in Scottsdale.

As there was no Arizona Concours this year, and shooting for “What’s My Car Worth” is on hold, my only official duties during Arizona Car Week were to host the SCM Insider’s Seminar at the Gooding Auction.

Aside from that, I spent the rest of my time doing exactly what I did before we started SCM — I lollygagged around the various auctions, kicked tires and chatted with buddies.

Through SCM, I’ve developed a lot of friendships over the past 30 years.

The car community is quite extraordinary. My friendships run the gamut from builders of custom hot rods to those whose collections include McLaren F1s and Lamborghini Miura SVs.

What we all share is a passion for things that move, most often powered by internal combustion engines.

During the week, I spent time at Barrett-Jackson (the Queen Mother of the mega-auctions), Russo and Steele, Bonhams, Worldwide Auctioneers, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding and Company and Silver Auctions AZ.

The cars being sold ranged from $8m to $800. I renewed acquaintances at every event. As I have always done at auctions, I imagined myself owning some of the cars on offer — from a tatty 300SL Gullwing to an Excalibur SS (!).

I thought about the 30 years I’ve been coming to Scottsdale, and the thousands and thousands of cars I have seen cross the block.

During our lifetimes, we have watched regular production cars become highly collectible. Who would have thought that an early ‘50s Porsche Speedster would be worth $400,000? They were underpowered, had minimal weather protection and suspect handling and brakes. Yet they stand today as an icon of their era. Just enough to make a sports car and nothing more.

I reflected on how the auction scene has matured into different segments. Barrett-Jackson paints the broadest brush. The auction awareness it has created has introduced opportunities for the boutique houses to enter the fray and flourish.

The auction world has four mega-centers. They are Arizona Car Week, Monterey Car Week, Amelia Car Week and Retromobile Car Week. During each of these weeks, collectors come from all over the world to buy and sell the objects of their mechanical passion. The dealers are there to make a living, the collectors are there to satisfy a dream of acquisition, or to thin and refocus their collections by selling something.

The passionate lover of cars inside of me is totally sated by the last six days. The analyst and publisher will take over as all the data comes in. As much as I enjoy my day job as a businessman, if I had a choice I’d spend every day just looking at cars at auction and swapping tales with others who share my affliction.

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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