The auction season has kicked off and we take a quick look at 2016 to try to understand what will happen in 2017!
2016 Car Auction Review
I think it would be fair to say that 2016 was a year of bewildered wonderment, not just in the political or cultural arena, but also in the world of classic cars. A disappointing start with shaky results at Rétromobile in Paris didn’t set any particular trend as estimates were shattered in certain sales, not met in others. Very unpredictable.
Of course, the two major talking points last year were, the frankly ludicrous prices achieved for those air-cooled 911s, specifically the 993 GT2 fetching £1.8m when a matching numbers 1973 2.7 RS achieved “just” £459,000, and secondly that Milan auction in November. Controversial and contentious, certainly, but my goodness, did it get everyone talking things up again.
Why Modern Cars Are Pulling in Higher Estimates
So how is 2017 looking like so far? The Arizona auction in January (RM Sotheby’s again) sees yet more modern supercars pass across the block hoping to cash in on last year’s prices, specifically the 1997 Porsche 911 (993) Turbo S at a lower estimate of $425,000 and another 993 GT2 at $1.1m. There is also even more modernity in a Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari F50 and Porsche 959 with estimates in the millions rather than the hundreds of thousands we would have expected just a couple of years ago.
What we have to remember is as the new buying population gets younger in age, the newer the cars seen as “classics” get. Aston Martin DB5s, Ferrari 250 SWBs and the like no longer appeal to the new, younger buyers. These buyers want the exclusivity without the idiosyncrasies that old cars bring, and they are happy to pay for it.
Auction Safe Bets
People love rarity, be it records, antiques and paintings, watches or cars. As manufacturing in smaller numbers gets cheaper due to economies of scale, the limited run production cars will always be a safe-bet going forward. Look at the fuss that was made about the Porsche 991 GT3 RS at launch, and then, just as you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, they announce the 911R. Even a new model such as this can command huge premiums straight away.
McLaren too can’t get enough with production of the 675LT models selling out, and now we see the limited-edition Aston Martins, the GT12 and new GT8 going the same way. Just like that 993 GT2, if you have something rare to sell, people will want it, whatever the cost. It will be interesting to see how these cars fare at auction in 20 years’ time.
“Continuation” is the new In-Thing with manufacturers as Aston Martin being the latest to announce a limited run of DB4 GTs to be built at Newport Pagnell. Jaguar did the same with the Lightweight E-Types and are about to do it again by finishing the production run of XKSS models that were destroyed in the fire at Browns Lane in 1957. Despite many classic race meetings (most notably Goodwood) publicly stating they won’t let these cars enter their competitions, production is sold out. Interestingly however, these will still drive like their original forebears thus proving that there are still enough collectors out there that want an old car, even one that is built new.
Predictions for the Rest of 2017
Rarity, originality and provenance are the three most vital elements for this year I would suggest. If all of these are present and unquestionable, the price is sure to reflect it. Prepare to dig deep again this year.
All images are the author’s own
About the Author: Tim Hutton has been involved in the automotive industry for 17 years, creating ideas and content for premium brands. When not writing about cars, you will find him driving them all around the world. Having learned to drive at seven in a racing car, petrol is very much in his veins.