My Generation: What’s “Historically Significant,” Anyway?

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by Rick Tavel? 1-22-2013 All Rights Reserved
As the 2013 Scottsdale auctions wrap up it is more than obvious that the collector car market has made a complete and remarkable recovery from the devastating downturn of a few years ago.  James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Director, commenting on his company’s exemplary results said, ?It was a tremendous auction, and everything worked beyond our expectations.?  And that pretty well summed up all of the major auction companies results in Scottsdale, during which sales exploded and several new world records were set.
Here are a few highlights indicating the current strength of the market.  RM Auctions sold more than $36 million in a single day and increased sales by over 42% from 2012 results.  Eight automobiles sold for more than a million dollars and a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta ?Competizione? sold for record $8.14 million.  Equally impressive, Bonhams more than doubled their 2012 sales in only their second year to participate in Scottsdale auction week. 
Gooding & Company sold over $52 million in only two days, their top seller a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider which was hammered down for $8.25 million.  Goodings sales rose 31% helped by the sales of seven cars hammered down for over $2 million.
But the results everyone was looking at as a barometer of the market was Barrett-Jackson who was hit the hardest by the market collapse in 2008 due to the company’s heavy concentration on muscle cars, which suffered the largest decline in prices.  Though the market has made significant strides in the last few years, through 2012 it still had not made a full recovery from the 2006 high when Barrett-Jackson sold $109 million during the week.  Craig Jackson predicted throughout the week that sales results were on track to equal their historic high and when the final hammer fell on Sunday night he was right.  The results equaled the Barrett-Jackson’s 2006 sales.  
A major contributors to Barrett-Jackson’s results were the fifty three ?Salon Collection? cars, a category which Jackson introduced last year.  All of the ?Salon? cars were important, historically significant, and museum quality; many of these automobiles were consigned with a ?reserve?.  Under Craig Jackson’s leadership until 2012 Barrett-Jackson was known as selling all of their consignments at ?No Reserve?.  But when the collector car market crashed Jackson realized that the quality and quantity of consignments were also crashing.  Owners did not want to risk their high dollar cars in a volatile market with ?no guarantees?.  So in 2012 Jackson broke with tradition and began accepting consignments of ‘special?, high value cars with a reserve in hopes of attracting more valuable classic cars.  His strategy worked and in 2012 he introduced the category of the ?Salon Collection? which consisted of those museum quality cars.  Based on his success in 2012 Jackson brought back the category for 2013 which consisted of fifty three cars.  These fifty three cars produced over $29 million of which ten cars sold for over one million dollars.
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