‘Behind the Hobby” is the title of a series of collector car symposiums being presented at the various Barrett-Jackson auctions this year, each featuring industry experts, including several who review cars on the auction docket in an effort to make sure the cars are correctly represented.
One such symposium Saturday at Palm Beach was moderated by Alan Taylor with panelists including Ken Lingenfelter, a well-known collector and head of the aftermarket and tuning company that was started by his late cousin, John; David Wise, Barrett-Jackson Mopar expert; Roy Sinor, Barrett-Jackson Corvette expert; Jeff Catline from the Barrett-Jackson Collection Showroom; and Steve Chryssos, Barrett-Jackson specialist program manager; and Ron Fiamma, Barrett-Jackson sponsored insurance.
The discussion began with Taylor proposing the question, “What are the top five things to look for when purchasing a collector car?”
Taylor told the audience the first thing is to understand your objective and to develop a plan to achieve that objection, and he spoke about the difference between buying cars at auction as a dealer versus buying as a collector, and the emotions that come with each perspective.
“I’m passionate about what I do and I buy cars that I like,” said Lingenfelter. “I try to buy a car that I would be OK if I had to sell it, but never go into it thinking I’ll make money.”
Lingenfelter said he tries to add unique cars to his collection, cars he likes, but “not something that will be impossible to sell if need be.”
The panelists said research is crucial. It is important to know the market segment and price range of vehicles your considering.
Chryssos stressed vehicle provenance, explaining that the more documentation and original factory paperwork that comes with a vehicle, the more valuable it tends to be. The vehicle’s owner history and service records also are important, he said.
Signor said examining the VIN and trim tags, body stamping and powertrain ID can ensure the car is, indeed, what it is being advertised as.
When buying and selling collector cars, condition plays a huge role, the panelists said. The appearance, how the paint shows, trim and panel fit are important, but one of the biggest things that makes a difference is detailing. Taylor shared a story of his son buying a dirty car that ran well for $2,800. He went through and vacuumed it, detailed it as best he knew how, and had sold it just a few days later for double what he paid. Even if a good detailing won’t bring you double your money, it certainly enhances a potential buyer’s first impression and might be the difference between a sale or no sale.
Finally, the panelists discussed collectability and whether a car appeals to a wider audience or a smaller one. They agreed unanimously that while all cars have some type of niche following, generally the more popular brands will be the most desirable.