Happy Days are Here Again

On September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11.

A direct consequence of that was the collapse of the collector car market. For instance, Daytonas, the poster children of the Ferrari market, fell almost overnight from their August 2008 heights in Monterey of $350k, to a more earthly $225k. Alfa TZ-1s stopped changing hands at $750k and became $600k cars. Even Austin-Healey 3000s, once the king of second-tier collectibles, dropped from $125k to $75k.

Buyers and Read More

Buckets of Fun

“Not all who wander are lost.”

That’s a fitting description of the day I spent trolling for treasure at the Portland Swap Meet. The largest event of this type on the West Coast, it has over 4,200 vendor booths and attracts more than 50,000 gearheads. But that’s not the end of it.

Right next door, Portland International Raceway simultaneously hosts another swap meet, with an additional 1,000 booths arrayed around the entire race track. So you’re faced Read More

March Madness

I’ve just returned from a sensory overload collector car experience in the Sunshine State.

Somewhere between RM’s BMW 600 “limousine,” Gooding’s Alfa 2000 spider, Sam and Emily Mann’s Mercedes 540K Special roadster, and the Collier ex-Martini Porsche 917, ten days of March have disappeared in a collector car blur. Between auctions, seminars, meetings, and television shooting, a relentless frenzy stole all the minutes and hours of every day.

It all started in Naples. Every other year, Miles Read More

The Market Walks Tall

Two years ago, the art market had cratered, with both Sotheby’s and Christie’s suffering huge year-over-year declines in their annual New York sales.

But on February 3, the market spoke with an authoritative voice, as “Walking Man I,” a life-size bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, was sold by Sotheby’s for $104.3m, a world record for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction.

Sotheby’s total for the evening was $235.6m.

To put that in perspective, the Read More

Government-Created Collectibles

At every car club meeting, gray-haired elders debate the future of car collecting. They wonder if the current generation will wean itself from texting and playing World of Warcraft long enough to learn to use a Uni-Syn to balance their SU carburetors, or feeler gauges to measure valve clearances.

They also wonder where are the Austin-Healey 3000s, Jaguar XK 120s, and Alfa Romeo Giuliettas of the current era. Each was a distinctive sports car with its own look Read More

Pleasure and Punishment, Collector Car Style

With this February issue, we are now well into the 22nd year of Sports Car Market.

Twenty-two is my lucky number. My birthday falls on the 22nd, and my race cars have always been numbered 22. When we first started SCM in our basement, as the four-page mimeographed Alfa Romeo Market Letter, we never imagined that over two decades later we’d still be pumping out auction reports and market commentary about cranky old cars.

While our page count Read More

Five Steps to Smart Collecting

In the collector car world, January is Arizona time. Last year, in an economic atmosphere that seemed considerably more bleak, 1,726 cars went to new owners, and $133m changed hands.

This year, I predict we’ll see a slight uptick in sales, perhaps 10%. If the surprising strength of the recent Sotheby’s New York art sale is any indication ($182m in sales against $163m in high estimates), collector confidence is on the rebound.

Credit is still extremely difficult Read More

Quirky Trumps Practical

For the past three months, I’ve managed to use the SCM 1964 Volvo 544 as my primary family car, and as my daily driver. I’ve put just over 2,000 miles on it. In September, my wife Wendie and I and our two-year-old Bradley piled into it for the 400-mile round-trip journey to Sunriver, Oregon, where I was the emcee of the 13th annual Festival of Cars.

It isn’t a Ferrari 250 GTE, Porsche 356, Maserati 3500 GT, Read More

Steady as She Goes

Every week, we send out the “SCM Insider” email, chock full of breaking news, auction results, select videos, and a reader poll to more than 30,000 rabid collectors like you. Our question in the June 30 newsletter asked readers to choose one of four outcomes for the 2009 Monterey weekend.

Forty-four percent of you thought things would be grim, and that $100m, the amount realized in 2006, was all we would see. Twenty-six percent thought sales would be stable at Read More

Assisted Suicide, Clunker Style

Over the next few months, nearly 750,000 clunkers are going to be scrapped. Not dismantled, mind you, but smashed and melted into their base, formative materials.

Whether or not this is good government policy we’ll leave to our friends at The Economist. And others can debate the relative environmental effects; for instance, some claim the energy expended to build a new car, no matter how mileage-frugal it is, far outweighs any potential carbon footprint savings realized when compared Read More

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