Recently, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum announced the first Japanese sports car to join its permanent collection. No the car is not a BRE 240Z or a Bob Sharp Racing 280ZX raced by Paul Newman. Instead, it is a 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. Continue reading
Sotheby’s acquisition of a 25 percent stake in RM Auctions is big news for high-end car collectors, but what does it mean to the hobby in general?
First of all, this is a deal that has been long in the making. RM and Sotheby’s have partnered in a limited capacity for a number of years. The high point of this evolving partnership until Wednesday was their combined sale in New York City in 2013.
I had the pleasure of attending the New York Art of the Automobile sale and was simply blown away by the presentation. The cars were treated as the art objects that they were, and that translated into almost $63 million in sales within two hours. This was an astounding result and something we in the hobby had never seen before.
This formal partnership of the two companies, now known as RM Sotheby’s, also is something that we in the hobby have not seen previously. It combines one of the greatest collector-car auction companies with one of the oldest and most well-respected traditional auction companies. That creates a tour de force in the collectibles marketplace.
“The partnership with Sotheby’s takes what we do and expands it to its full potential, adding Sotheby’s more than 300 years of experience in the auction business to ours,” Alain Squindo, vice president of RM Auctions, told me. “It offers cross-promotional opportunities that effectively let the company become a consolidated collecting conduit for the high-dollar collector market in general.”
Now that the partnership between these two companies is official, what can we expect to see for the broader car hobby?
Well, first and foremost, I think that this partnership is likely to mean that the slowdown or correction in the classic car hobby is not likely to happen any time soon. This partnership adds an additional level of legitimacy to the idea of cars as art. and that is a market that tends not to correct. In fact, I think we are getting closer to seeing our first 100-million-dollar car sell at auction than we were a few years ago, and we definitely will see more world-record prices and big sales totals next month at Amelia Island and in August at Monterey.
Of course, I am talking largely about top-tier collector cars – think Ferrari 250 Testarossas, Bugattis, L88 Corvettes and Jaguar D-types. But this will not exclude the lower end of the market.
In the fine-art world, some artwork fetches as much as hundreds of millions of dollars, but there also is artwork that sells in the thousand-dollar range, and even such less-rare pieces that are considered significant continue to increase in value along with the top tier of the market.
Historically, this correlation has not always worked in the car hobby, but I think this is about to change. We already have seen hints of it happening in the past few years. I think that now we will see a broader effect on collector cars that are a bit more ordinary as well, with cars such as the Triumph TR4, classic Ford Mustang and even the MGB affected in a positive way as far as values are concerned.
Second, this partnership has the potential to expand and broaden the entire collector-car market to a much larger audience then ever before.
Finally, this partnership sets up RM as the world leader of collector-car auction companies. While many people, including me, have said that RM was the leader for years, this new partnership solidifies the idea. With the worldwide reach and exposure that the partnership offers, the new RM Sotheby’s company will be hard to beat.
Is this good for the collector-car hobby or will it be “ruined” for the average collector?
I think that in the longer term, it will prove to be beneficial for the hobby. While the cars we love will become increasing more valuable and more difficult for some to purchase, we also will see many desirable cars with needs being saved and brought up to the next level simply because doing so is much less of a losing proposition than it had been in the past.
This will mean that there will be more really good examples available of the cars we love, making finding and purchasing a really good MGTD, 1957 Chevy Bel Air or other more-affordable classic an easier thing to do.
The more negative voices in the hobby will bemoan this trend with such comments as, “I used to be in the car hobby but have been priced out of it.” While there is some truth in that, the reality is that this always has been the case with anything that is rare or collectible.
The solution for collectors of modest means is to target cars that are significant while still being affordable. So if you cannot buy a Jaguar E-type Series 1, then maybe you could consider a Datsun 240Z. These cars are still quite affordable, and there are many other similar opportunities out there if you look around.
This translates into dollars as the perception solidifies. People looking to sell the best cars will go to RM Sotheby’s first, and buyers looking for the best cars available also will look there first.
So what should you do if you are a part of the greater and more-affordable segments of the hobby? Well, you should continue to buy the cars you love and enjoy them as much as possible while they continue to increase in value.
We will see the beginnings of what’s next for our hobby at the first sale from the new partnered company at the RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction March 14. The star lot is a 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina. The pre-auction estimate is from $6 million to $7 million dollars. We would not be surprised at all if the car surpasses the estimate.
Lotus Cars has been at the forefront of racing technology and automotive design and technology since 1948. Much like Ferrari, Lotus was a company run by a racing-mad genius, in the case of the British marquee, Colin Chapman. His philosophy was one of building the lightest and most efficient cars possible, sometimes at the expense of reliability.
A complete historical retrospective of the history of this fabled automaker is featured in a new exhibitoin, Lotus: The Art of Lightness, at the AACA museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Chapman’s designs resulted in an amazingly diverse record of racing success: seven Formula 1 world titles, multiple victories at Le Mans, winning the the Indy 500, success in saloon car racing, and even the World Rally Championship.
Chapman’s design philosophy of simple, light weight cars, basically building cars that were designed to last only as long as necessary to win races, also was incorporated into Lotus road cars. The result was a continuous series of iconic sports cars including the Seven, Elite, Elan, Esprit, Elise and Evora.
It seems that the automotive world has finally woken up to the idea that horsepower makes you fast in the straights, but light weight makes you faster everywhere – and more fuel efficient to boot.
We spoke with AACA museum’s executive director Mark Lizewskie about the show and its fit with the Antique Automobile Club of America.
“We are trying to dispel the idea that the AACA is just about Ford Model As and ’57 Chevys,” Lizewskie said. “Lotus has always been able to do fantastic things despite their small size as a company. They are the automotive equivalent of the Poison Arrow frog, a tiny little thing that can knock you down.
“That fact that this small company has had so much success is astounding and deserves to be remembered in automotive history.”
Some of the cars on display include:
- 1956 Mark VI –
- 1958 Lotus Eleven (Series II)
- 1959 Elite (Type 14)
- 1959 Type 18
- 1962 Type 22
- 1962 Seven S2
- Elan S1 (Type 26)
- 1966 Lotus Cortina (Type 28)
- 1971 Type 69
- 1978 Type 79 Championship winning Formula 1
- 1979 Esprit S2 (World Championship Commemorative Edition)
- 1984 Type 95T
Lotus: The Art of Lightness is on display at the AACA Museum, located at 161 Museum Drive in Hershey, Pennsylvanian and is open from 9:00 a.m. t0 5:00 p.m., with the last admission at 4:00 p.m. Admission is $12 for adults.
For more information, visit the exhibition website.
There are a great many reasons for buying a classic car: love for the history of a specific brand, the fun of tinkering with your classic, the experience of driving an old car, and the possible investment potential that many classic cars can offer, to name a few.
The classic car market is hotter than ever and, as a result, many people are looking at classic cars as a great way to invest their money. While that might seem like a great idea, there are also many potential pitfalls of classic car ownership, and just as many reasons for not buying a classic car.
We went through our list and broke it down into five reasons not to buy a classic car:
1. A friend of mine said I should buy a classic car.
Say you have a modern Porsche 911 or Dodge Challenger and your friends think you should buy an old one to go with it. You envision yourself as part of the hardcore, cool-guy crew. This is a dangerous mindset, especially if you’ve come to expect such things as satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity and a good, working A/C, which are niceties generally not available on classic cars. And remember, a classic car will be less reliable and require more maintenance than its modern equivalent.
You should only buy a classic car because you want a classic car, not to be part of the cool crowd. We really aren’t as cool as we think we are.
2. I have been thinking of buying a classic car but I do not like working on mechanical things.
Not having experience with working on old cars is not a prerequisite, but you should be willing to learn about making some mechanical repairs. No matter how many mechanics you hire, at some point you are going to have to fix something yourself. Classic car people tend to forget that they spend a considerable amount of time fixing things, often more time that they spend actually driving their classics.
They forget this because they enjoy the process of working on and sorting out the issues that come up with their old cars.
Ideally, you should consider this tinkering to be part of the fun of the classic car experience. If not, think twice about making a classic car purchase.
3. I can afford a classic car but it needs to be perfect because I have just enough money to buy the car.
No classic car is perfect. We are not aware of a single person who has bought any classic car that did not require some amount of money to be spent on it immediately. It is best to budget somewhere between $1,500-$5,000 for maintenance in addition to the price you’re paying for any new classic car purchase, the added cost dependent on the price level of the classic. However, if you’re buying a classic Ferrari, most experts say to budget as much as $20,000 more.
If you cannot afford to pay for the inevitable initial repairs, then you are going to have trouble with classic car ownership from the start.
4. Classic cars make a great investment and I like a sure thing.
There are no sure investments, with the possibly exception of the big-time fine-art world. The classic car market has its ups and downs just like every other market.
Buying a car only as an investment is a big mistake. Old cars take care and attention, making them very different from other appreciating assets.
Buy a classic car only if you really love and want that car, and only buy a make and model that you love and not purely because you foresee upside potential.
Then, no matter what happens with classic car market values, you will still have that car you always wanted.
5. I want to buy a car on TV at an auction, like the big shots.
This has got to be the worst reason to buy a classic car, and every year more people buy cars because they want to be seen on television winning a bidding war. This behavior always astounds us, but we have heard so many people boast about having the opportunity to pay too much for a car on TV.
If you want to be on TV that badly, figure out another way, possibly by starting a cooking show or applying for a spot on Survivor or Shark Tank.
If you still decide to a buy a classic car, take a look at these guidelines and make sure none of them apply to you, in which case you probably should decide not to buy.
Always buy a classic car that you love because you want to own it and to drive it, and you should have a terrific experience.