Enthusiasts are buying and selling cars.

Although the market is not boisterous, it is busy. The current COVID-19 situation has not eliminated or diminished our love of cranky old cars. Rather, it has caused us to find appropriate, safe ways to enjoy our cars and each other, all while modifying our collections.

Look at some of the results that have been compiled in the past few months:

  • RM sells the Elkhart Collection for $44m.
  • Barrett-Jackson Fall does $23.5m.
  • Gooding’s “Passion of a Lifetime” sells $45m.
  • Worldwide Auctioneers Auburn makes $7m.
  • Bonhams hammered $3.3m sold at its Simeone Sale.
  • RM Sotheby’s sells the BAT cars for $14.8m.

Adapting and adopting

To meet the pent-up demands of collectors, auction companies, private sellers and dealers have adopted new ways to present their merchandise. Sellers have rapidly adapted.

Online sales and auctions were already growing dramatically. The pandemic has just made them come to prominence more quickly.

This has benefited sellers immensely. Bring a Trailer set the new standard for online selling. It offered professionally written descriptions, refreshingly free of used-car hyperbole. Those were coupled with hundreds of photos and handfuls of videos.

The job of a seller in any venue is to create an atmosphere of assurance for the buyer.

In my five decades of trading in old cars, I have never met a seller who felt they paid too much if they got a first-rate car. However, someone who paid top dollar and got a mediocre car full of unexpected issues will have a much different story to tell.

Cruising the classifieds

My typical day’s trolling for cars will include many of the following sites: Facebook Marketplace, Bring a Trailer, Craigslist, The Alfa Bulletin Board, Rennlist, Hemmings, Cars and Bids, AutoHunter, PCARMARKET and Classic Promenade.

The quantity and quality of interesting collector cars available have never been greater. Nearly all of the cars offered have detailed information and impressive photo documentation.

Never being able to resist temptation, I have been tweaking the SCM menagerie.

In the past week I’ve bid on a Citroën DS19 (BaT), an MGC GT (Hemmings) and an E36 BMW M3 (Gooding).

I’ve purchased a 1991 Porsche 928 advertised on Craigslist, and a 2001 Land Rover Disco 2 from a private party. (As you might expect, my 13-year-old son Bradley requested we install a “ladder to nowhere” on the rear of the rig — it was one of his favorite features of our D90.)

There is more to old-car collecting than just buying and selling. We recently participated in a 200-mile Drive Toward a Cure / Rally Across America event and raised $6,250 to support research for a cure for Parkinson’s. We were behind the wheel of our original-paint 1965 Volvo 122S and managed to keep up with the numerous big-butt 911s on the tour.

Come July, the SCM 1000 will give us another chance to exercise the SCM fleet. Tour Director Neil d’Autremont has been scouting out routes in the spectacular Oregon High Desert. We look forward to 1,000 miles of backroads.

While pursuing our automotive passions, we are cognizant of the serious health issues our country is facing. We keep a stack of face masks by the door of my condo and carry a few in every car. We practice social distancing. These are small inconveniences. We prefer to err on the side of safety and protecting those around us while we continue to live our lives.

No doubt future historians will be able to date photos of car events as being from 2020 by the appearance of face masks.

And hopefully they will date 2021 photos by the absence of the same.

Strong offers rewarded

I’m still tweaking my collection, and I’m sure you are too. I don’t hesitate to start piling Benjamins on the table when something is offered at an attractive price. And if someone chooses to make a strong offer, they are likely to quickly own whatever it is I am selling.

I encourage you to persevere through these challenging times. Don’t lose sight of the passions in your life that bring you joy. Modify your behavior so that you are creating a safe space for you and those around you.

I expect when we emerge from this era, I will have a very different collection than when I started. I look forward to the excitement of each new acquisition, and the bittersweet feeling as I watch a much-loved car move on to a new caretaker.

While our circumstances have changed, our passion for cars remains stronger than ever. ♦

Comments are closed.