McCormick’s Palm Springs Collector Car Auctions celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Its auction February 26-28 in Palm Springs will be its 60th (the company does two sales a year, one in the spring and one in the fall).
The company is run by Jason McCormick, who was 14 when his father, Keith, started doing classic car auctions.
CCN: How did your family get started in the collector car auction business?
Jason McCormick: My father was in the classic car business in England before we moved here [Palm Springs, California]. He owned three car dealerships and a vintage Rolls-Royce dealership. [Our involvement in car auctions] started 30 years ago when my father and I went to a classic car auction in Woodland Hills, California; My father took up the idea to do one at that time. I think it was part of my father’s nature to do something with classic car business.
CCN: What are some milestones or surprising moments you have seen over past 30 years?
Jason McCormick: We have sold a lot of celebrity cars. One of the most significant was when O.J. Simpson got arrested for that murder, we had his Ferrari in the auction and we actually sold the Ferrari. We had to hire an armed guard to protect the car because at the time O.J. Simpson had such negativity associated with him and we didn’t want someone to come by and kick the doors in or damage the car. We gave all the proceeds from that sale to a battered woman’s charity.
A little bit after that we also sold the white Bronco from the O.J. Simpson chase. It was bid up to $170,000. We didn’t think it would sell and a typical white bronco at the time was probably worth $6,000, but because of what it was associated with it, the Bronco sold for $170,000.
We have sold cars from Elvis Presley, Liberace, and we sold a limo that was owned by Howard Hughes — it had a flushing toilet in the back, which was bizarre.
Over the past 30 years our auctions just keep outgrowing the one before and we keep outgrowing our locations. The very first auction took place in a Palm Springs hotel, what is now the Hard Rock hotel, with 100 cars. Now its 30 years later and we are averaging 600 cars at each auction and selling between $7 million and $8 million worth of cars.
CCN: Have you had to overcome any major challenges?
Jason McCormick: Most recently we changed locations. For the past 10 years we have been at a casino in Palm Springs which is on tribal land and the next one is at the Convention Center, on city land, so we have been dealing with the challenges of dealing with a city fire marshal and making sure everything fits the fire marshal’s regulations. In the past we dealt with the tribal fire marshal. Overall, not to many challenges until recently with moving locations.
CCN: During Arizona Auction week we saw some trends indicating price corrections. What are your thoughts on the “stable prices” in the market?
Jason McCormick: I definitely saw the correction going on and I am noticing what I think a lot of classic car dealers would agree is that European cars are very strong. The old Porsches’ prices have doubled over the past few years and all the old Volkswagens have shot up in value while the muscle car market, I believe, has leveled out, which I think is good. The average person sits at home watching the auction and then says, “oh my gosh I could never afford a ‘69 Camaro,” because they saw it sell on TV for $160,000. I think there is a correction being made and the average car they had during high school or wanted in high school, they can now get without having to pay a ridiculous amount.
CCN: Given the current trends, what are your expectations for your sale this month?
Jason McCormick: I think it will be one of our strongest auctions to date because of the really highly desirable cars we have, like a 1964 Rolls-Royce limousine… [and] a lot of desirable high-end Europeans cars. We are also at 60 percent pre-registered bidders. All the trends are contributing to potentially having a record breaking auction this year.
CCN: Where do you see the auction in the next 30 years?
Jason McCormick: We will definitely still be in Palm Springs. We live here in Palm Springs, just two miles from where we do the auction and are a family business. We get all sorts of requests to do auctions out of town, different states, and even have someone who wants us to go to Europe and do an auction in Germany, but we are very bent on staying in Palm Springs and will probably keep it around the same amount of cars but weed out some of the lower-end cars. We will also probably stick to two auctions a year — you just can’t do an auction in the middle of summer in Palm Springs because it is 116 degrees. It’s too hot, so we will stick to auctions in November and February.