There were, of course, headliners at this year’s RM Auction at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance: the big buck classics. The softening that some say has hit the collector car market hasn’t touched the huge dollar cars, at least not yet. At Amelia, the cream of the collector car crop exceeded or met preauction price estimates.
Two Duesenbergs and Edsel Ford’s tailor-made hot rod - see yesterday’s post - all broke the million dollar barrier. At $2,650,000, a Murphy bodied Duesenberg exceeded the top preauction estimate by $650,000. The other Duesenberg, a 1929 LeBaron-bodied berline, 210,000 brought $10,000 above the preauction estimate at a sale price of $1,210,000. A 1931 Bentley 8 liter “Open Tourer” with bodywork by Harrison brought $2,200,000. RM had declined to make a preauction estimate on either the Bentley or the Edsel Ford special.
Even a notch down in price, the truly rare classics held their value.
(more after the jump)
A 1933 Packard Super Eight convertible Victoria exceeded its preauction estimate of $250,000 to $350,000 when it sold at $412,500. Similarly, a supercharged 1937 Cord 812 Phaeton sold for $291,500. Last year, RM auctioned two similar Cords, one at Hershey and the other at Meadow Brook, for $253,000 and $176,000, respectively. The Amelia car sold slightly above its preauction estimate.
But classics which had less rarity began to exhibit some softening in price, as the market appeared to be placing much more value on the uniqueness of truly rare cars than on the overall classic status of some of the vehicles with less appealing body styles or histories.
A 1936 Packard Phaeton, perhaps not the most attractive shade of green ever seen on a grand classic, brought $187,000, right in the middle of the preauction estimate of $175,000 to $225,000. A 1941 Cadillac Series 62 convertible sedan sold for $71,500 within the preauction estimate of $75,000 to $100,000.
A 1936 Cord 810 Westchester sedan sold for $60,500, just within the estimated sale price of $60,000 to $80,000.
However, with cars of the late forties and early fifties cars, the softening in the market seemed undeniable, as many of the cars missed even the low end of the projected sales price. The cars were nice enough. It just seemed they weren’t finding a very strong market.
A lovingly restored Oldsmobile convertible, a Super 88 from 1954, presented as a full restoration, sold for $74,250 – well below the $100,000 to $125,000 preauction estimate. Granted, it wasn’t a Starfire convertible from the higher priced 98 series, but it was still an attractive car.
It was not, however, alone in bringing a price below that which had been expected.
A 1956 Lincoln convertible, painted in a coral pink that might, conceivably have been a factory color, brought $79,750. The preauction estimate had been $120,000 to $140,000. A 1948 Lincoln Continental convertible sold at a mere $59,400, way below the $70,000 to $90,000 preauction estimate. A red ’55 Thunderbird sold at $37,500, below the preauction estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, the contraction in the credit markets will have on the collector car market. That the truly prized classics appear able to hold their value is, perhaps, not particularly surprising. That the market for lesser classics is softening is equally predictable. When there is less money chasing the cars, the money that is there goes for the cream of the crop.
But, if the market continues to decline and your taste runs to the Elvis-era car and you’re looking to buy – well, it may just be that it’s about to be your turn.