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  • Peter Volny

Recession? What Recession In Collector Car Market?

Arizona’s world famous Auction Week in January set new records that remove any doubt as to the health of the collector car market. Actual auction sales were slightly under US$250 million, but with more deals closing post auction, the total has already well surpassed the quarter billion dollar mark, which represents almost a 15 per cent increase over last year.

In the space of one week, no fewer than six auction houses were bustling with frenzied activity leading to 2,320 vehicles sold at an average of slightly over $107,000 each. Of course, this number is heavily swayed by the 30 or so million dollar plus vehicles led by a rare 1958 Ferrari 250GT LWB (long wheel base) California Spider, which at $8.8 million was the highest ever for a car sold at auction at the Arizona Auction Week. The car was sold by Canada’s own RM Auctions.

1958 Ferrari 250GT LWB – Photo Credit Patrick Ernzen © 2013 Courtesy of RM Auctions


As usual the grand-daddy of car auctions, Barrett-Jackson, led the field with total sales of $113 million over 1,381 vehicles all at no reserve, a sure-fire way of firing up the bidding. At an average of $78,000, there were vehicles hammered down for all budgets. Barrett-Jackson also set the world record for a Corvette for the 1967 L88 that sold for $3.85 million. Another unique offering was the 1998 Ferrari F300 Formula 1, allegedly Michael Schumacher’s own test car. No doubt the precarious state of Michael himself following his tragic ski accident contributed to the $1.9 million sale price.

1967 Corvette L88

Gooding & Company realized US$52.5 selling 101 out of 104 lots at an astounding average of $519,727 a car, a healthy 31 per cent increase over 2013. Top sale was a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet at $6,160,000. Also of note was a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail racecar at $5.28 million. Seven cars went for over $2 million each and an even dozen at over a million dollars.

New All-time Record

RM Auctions sold 85 per cent of its 125 automobiles offered with 10 going for in excess of a million dollars. All told, 107 cars went for $45.5 million in their two-day event for an average of $420,560 each – better bring a good line of credit here also. Setting a new all-time record at the Arizona Auctions was a 1958 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider at $8.25 million.

One no-sale was the fabled ex-Jim Hall Chaparral 1 which did not meet its reserve at $1.75 million. Vintage racing has its price too.

Bonham’s, the most recent entry to the Scottsdale auction scene in only its third year, achieved almost $25 million in 86 sales proving its competitiveness. Yet again, a Ferrari, in this case, went for the most, a 1951 212 Export Coupe at $3.19 million. The Italian Tricolore was prominent here too as a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider sold for $3.08 million and a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C sold for $2.64 million.

Russo & Steele sold 465 vehicles for in excess of $21 million, an increase of some 30 per cent. Top sale was, yes, you guessed it, yet another Italian car, but this time a 1966 Lamborghini 350GT at $742,500.

1966 Lamborghini 350GT

An 11 per cent increase over last year at Silver Auctions brought in $3.1 million for 179 cars at an average of just $17, 400.


As investments go, classic Ferraris seem to be the benchmark, many bringing multi-millions. Perhaps it’s time to check under that tarpaulin in the garage at the cottage to see what’s been hiding there for the past 50 years.

Peter Volny, originally from Australia, has lived in seven countries including many years in Canada. He now resides in Arizona. He has visited 125 countries on all seven continents including a month spent on a Russian icebreaker in Antarctica. His own small collection includes a 2006 Ford GT and a 2010 Maserati Gran Turismo MC. His wife is from Shawinigan.

All amounts in US Dollars


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