2021 has brought many challenges (Omicron being the latest), but also some new and interesting opportunities for car buyers and sellers. The return to live action on the show field and auction world has been a welcome one. However, it’s no secret that the auction scene has changed dramatically since early 2020 - the massive move to online sales over live auctions being the most significant. Of course, this was partly by necessity due to restricted in-person events, but also gave the buyers and sellers a different, perhaps more relaxed type of experience. Now, the combination of live auctions and online will likely be the future for classic car sales.
Recalling the Pebble Beach auction action in August, five live auction houses brought in a total of $343 million across three days of sales —up 37% over the same array of opportunities in 2019. Monterey’s high sales numbers were even more impressive, considering that 25% fewer cars were offered than in 2019. A higher-than-normal sell-through rate of 80%, compared to 59% in 2019, contributed to that result, but so did the recognized high quality of many cars on offer. The average sale price of a vehicle sold in 2021 was $428,004, up from $334,114 in 2019, according to Hagerty. So, live auctions appear to be working well. Judging by the crowds in the ballrooms in California, live action was very successful.
Online car auctions, also, are gaining huge momentum. Remember when eBay Motors started in 2000? At that time, it was revolutionary and pretty much the only large online platform to buy and sell vehicles. In 2020, the breakout year for online auctions, they were perfectly positioned to grow in a socially-distanced, work-from-home world. Buyers and sellers flocked to online platforms and have stayed there. For instance, according to Hagerty, during the first 11 months of 2019 (Bring a Trailer’s sixth year auctioning cars) a little over 7000 vehicles sold on the site. In 2020, that number shot up to nearly 10,000 and in 2021, it’s nearly cresting 16,000. This is double Mecum’s entire sales in 2021.
Also interesting is the breadth and depth of the vehicles that are being offered up and fetching significant prices online. The very successful Bring a Trailer is now selling cars that would have only been seen at premier auction houses like RM Sotheby’s or Gooding. The most expensive vehicle sold on BAT was the 1961 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster which fetched $1.4M in July. Talk about blurred lines!
A sign of the times - cryptocurrency has been established as a payment method, at least for one auction house. On November 19th, RM Sotheby’s, the world’s largest collector car auction house, accepted cryptocurrency payments via Bitpay. The Guikas Collection, held in Castellel, France, featured 75 racing and road cars, completely without reserve. The decision comes “as the company wants to attract a new customer base in order to expand “the market for collectible automobiles to a broader cross-section of enthusiasts and collectors.” Better brush up on my crypto knowledge!
The end of year wrap up for the club included a return to Bill and Donna’s place for a Holiday gathering. Live band, great food and great company was a very welcome respite from a still challenging 2021. Thank you Bill and Donna for a great party! Also the Biker Bash at the Hard Rock Casino benefitting the Boys and Girls Club of Broward County was a fantastic event.
And of course, the Annual January 1st Hangover Run was held by the Gold Coast British Car Club. A gorgeous drive up A1A from Pompano to Lantana early on New Year’s Day is always a great start to the year. Descending on The Dune Deck, the perennial fave of the clubs, 40+ members enjoyed a breakfast overlooking the Ocean.
It’s going to be a great 2022 as South Florida gears up for car show season! Coming up fast is the Gold Coast British Car Club Annual All-British Show on February 20th. The premier event of SoFlo is the 15th Annual Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance on February 27th. Amelia Concours is back to March. The Jaguar Club of Florida hosts their annual Concours d’Elegance in Lake Mary (near Orlando) on March 27th and Wheels Across the Pond in Jupiter in April. Fun for the whole family!
Happy motoring all!