What makes a car collectible? And what makes one car more desirable than another? We all might agree that a 1967 911S is more desirable that a 1977, but exactly why? At SCM, we have long felt there was a need for an evaluation and rating system for collectible cars that considered more than just transaction prices.
After all, market value can fluctuate wildly. Consider the Maserati Ghibli. Its value has gyrated from $150,000 in 1990 to $35,000 in 2000. Yet the underlying characteristics that make it collectible haven't changed.
To help understand what sets the Ghibli and other special interest cars apart, we are creating the Martin Guide to Collectible Cars. A dedicated group of experts, enthusiasts and collectors have been hard at work for some time on this. Over 2,000 models are being evaluated according to five factors of collectibility and assigned a Martin Rating. A perfect score will be 100.
Criteria used will include rarity, physical beauty, historical significance, performance, and "fun factor."
Applying the system to the SCM fleet, we find that 1978 911SCs rate a 75, while 327/340 split-window 1963 Corvettes are awarded an 84.
The algorithms used to determine these ratings are complicated, and combine objectivity and subjectivity. (Are the lines of the Ferrari 308 GT4 striking and modernistic, or does it resemble a cheese-wedge-shaped doorstop?)
While most guides evaluate cars solely on financial terms, the Martin Guide will go beyond the bottom line and delve into intrinsic, significant, and definitive characteristics. Our goal is to provide a convenient tool for hobbyists and collectors to use to help them evaluate the relative desirability and usability of a car.
The Guide will provide a quick way to find out which models of a marque are the most desirable. If considering an MGB, a collector can see at a glance that a chrome-bumpered, taut-handling 1967 model rates a 75, while a clumsy, rubber-bumpered 1980 receives only a 54. On the Ferrari side, a 250 GTE gets an 81, while an SWB brings a 93.
The Martin Guide applies to models only, not to specific cars. (A system for rating individual cars, with categories that include physical condition, originality and provenance, will be next.) With the Martin Guide we are setting out to provide the first-ever industry-wide tool that can be used to evaluate nearly every model of collectible car ever built. Your copy of it, arriving with your February issue, will be SCM's New Year's gift to you.
For the first time since 1989, there is no Alfa profile in this issue. After 137 profiles, 16 Affordable Classics, and 15 Twenty-Year Pictures, good material has gotten a scarce. Alfas cross the block rarely, and models we haven't recently evaluated even less often.
However, as I was born with a Snake and Cross imprimatur on my forehead, Alfisti still have a place in SCM to call their own. On page 99, you'll find our first installment of "Alfa Bits" (with a nod to Post Cereals, where the moniker originated, and to the Alfa Romeo Owners of Oregon, who call their newsletter the same). Our eBay guru Geoff Archer, an Alfa man himself, will offer four striking or stinking Alfa deals for your perusal on those months where no piece suitable for a profile has crossed the blocks. So between future profiles and the Bits, we'll still be attentive to our Alfa gang.
INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
We enthusiasts are pretty good about taking care of our cars. But we're not always so thoughtful when it comes to protecting the future of collecting. The Collectors Foundation was established to address this.
Initially known as the Hagerty Fund, it was created by Hagerty Insurance and funded by a one-dollar donation from Hagerty for each membership received by the Hagerty Protection Network (now the Hagerty Collector Network).
I have been privileged to serve as a director of the Foundation since its inception in 2003. It is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, and contributions to it are deductible. Between the donations from the Collector Network, other companies (including SPEED Channel), and individuals, the total annual amount raised by the Foundation this year alone is approaching $1m.
With those funds, the Foundation has made more than 25 grants, including four $5,000 scholarships for students in the restoration program at McPherson College (KS). A $10,000 scholarship has been given to the Art Center College of Design (CA) and two $5,000 scholarships have been granted to Clover Park Technical College (WA).
It has granted $30,000 to the Petersen Automotive Museum (CA) to bus children in for special programs. The Saratoga Automobile Museum (NY) has received support, as has the Gilmore Automobile Museum (MI). In my neck of the woods, the Northwest Vintage Motorcycle and Automobile Museum (OR) received a grant to support its second annual all-high-school car show.
On the heritage front, the Foundation has given the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) a $100,000, five-year challenge grant to digitize their archives and place them on-line, to the benefit of all collectors.
As we are nearing the end of 2005, it's a perfect time to make an investment in the future of automobile collecting and the hobby by making a donation to the Collectors Foundation. Cars can be accepted as well as cash; most recently John Hollansworth, president of the Foundation's board of directors, donated a 1957 Isetta that Dana Mecum auctioned at his St. Charles, Illinois sale (Mecum contributed all of his fees as well). The net to the Foundation was $19,425, which can provide four students at McPherson with scholarships.
You will find a way to join the Collectors Foundation on page 81 of this issue, and more details can be found at www.collectorsfoundation.org.
This holiday season, all of us at SCM wish you and your loved ones good health, good times, prosperity, and many miles behind the wheel of your favorite classic car during the year ahead.