How do you improve on a product that is already the ‘go-to’ publication in the industry? The answer lies in continuing the same level of quality research, listening to the players in the market (buyers, sellers and dealers), and all the while being innovative and committed to the task. At the risk of delivering a paper on corporate management, there is no substitute for hard work and getting out there. With this advice in mind, the Classic Car Auction Yearbook 2017-2018 Edition does just that by retaining a strong theme of familiarity, while analysing the market data even more creatively.
The classic car market is, in its most basic form, made up of thousands of individuals who want to buy, sell or deal in our favourite cars. You can be quite sure that the buyer of an early VW Beetle is just as passionate about their pride and joy (whether buying or selling) as the high-roller who is looking to spend a 7-figure sum on a rare piece of exotic automotive history. There is, though, a common thread that drives both of these buyers (or sellers) and that is to pay the right price for the right car, whether that is $10,000 or $1-million. Of course, we all look for a bargain, but at the end of the day, if you are serious about your favourite car you had better be a well-informed buyer (or seller) because you can be sure that the next guy will be.
The growth in the activity and value of the classic car auction market has skyrocketed in the last 10 to 15 years. In 2003/2004, the value of classic car auctions around the world totalled $151-million compared with more than $1.2-billion for the 2017/2018 period covered in this book. But it is drilling down into these numbers where the interesting trends and divergences become apparent. The industry uses the American $ as its international currency, and while this represented an 11% increase over the previous year, it only gave a 3% rise in Euro terms, and 5% rise in British Sterling terms. This is all down to exchange rate fluctuations between the currencies.
It comes as no surprise that Ferrari leads the market (28% by value) at the top end of the auction industry, and this is followed during the period under review by Porsche (11%), with Mercedes in third spot (7%). Cars exceeding $10-million have increased from 4 cars to 6 cars in the year, but interestingly, the top 226 cars represented 5.65% of the total market and exceeded the remaining 4002 cars by value sold at auction in the year.
Two other trends of interest have emerged in recent times. The first trend, is the increase in the number of cars offered “without reserve price,” and at 1611 cars this accounted for 18% of the market. The effect of this development is that it serves to attract more interest and more buyers to the auction, raising the sale prospects for that auction and thereby increasing the sell through rate. The key measure of the health of the industry is the percentage of sold lots, which at 75%, would indicate a very healthy market. The second trend that has emerged is the shift away from certain brands (Bentley, Jaguar, Rolls-Royce) and towards other more buoyant makes (Ferrari and Porsche). This reflects the change in tastes of the new generation of buyers.
As expected, the book is packed full of fascinating statistics, trends, and comparisons just as in years gone by. In short, the Classic Car Auction Yearbook offers the collector car market an unparalleled, in-depth analysis of top international auction sales data, and follows how important cars, marques and models have performed from a variety of perspectives. Chapters in the 2017-2018 edition include the Market Analysis; Authors’ comment with 21 colour graphs; graphs of the prices achieved by cars offered and sold in earlier time (by specific chassis in three currencies); the Top 226 cars of the 2017-2018 season; Top 100 for make & country statistics; statistics for make; average price achieved graphs; the 2017-2018 season “Top Ten” with case study; auction season results with 5628 cars (of 308 makes); 25 years of Top Five; 25 years of Top Five for Makes; and Top Twenty for both pre- and post-war of the last 25 seasons.
If your favourite classic is not in the Top Five or the Top Ten sellers internationally, fear not, because this book covers all makes from A-Z, literally Abarth to Zedel! So, your favourite is bound to be listed somewhere in this section which stretches from page 69 to page 390, which makes up the bulk of the book. Photographs show examples of most makes and the details of each sale listed is in-depth. It is also important to remember that the listings include both road and race cars sold at auction during the year covered, from Formula Junior to Formula 1, Group C and much more. If most of the cars are beyond your current financial reach, reading and studying the facts and figures contained within the pages of the book can become a hobby in itself.
The book is literally brimming with valuable info that could provide you, the reader or the classic car enthusiast, with just about every bit of detail about the car of your choice that you could want. While it is, of course, the high value cars that attract the attention of the media and the market, it is the lower-priced cars that fall within the grasp of a much larger audience. Here, the author’s own advice is perhaps the soundest approach to your classic car purchase, “The classic car, I will never become tired of repeating it, must primarily give pleasure. Buy the car you like, which reminds you of happy moments, and do not let the investment mirage guide you. By doing so, you may not earn a financial return, but we guarantee you that you will enjoy it and that it will improve your quality of life.”
If you are in the market to acquire a classic road car or an historic race car, you cannot make a sufficiently informed choice without having this book at your disposal. Besides which, it would make an excellent addition to your bookshelf, should you have occasion to prove yourself right in a discussion with friends. The entire book is in English which will appeal to a much wider audience.
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