Forget the Wall Street plunge of over 1000 points on Monday; it’s auction week in Scottsdale, and the warm desert sun never felt better. Whether you flew in on Southwest Airlines or your own Gulfstream, there’s a buggy here whispering your name, but I’m here to investigate something a little more refined than a Chevy El Camino with a vinyl top. From the land of Michael Angelo, prosciutto, and the Pope, it’s time to review a few of the Italian supercars up for auction.
For years, many of these “pancake cars” were scoffed at because of their association to the 80s from which not everything has stood the test of time, especially build quality. Some have undeserved reputations of maintenance nightmares requiring “engine-out” servicing. And let’s not forget the need for a chiropractor on speed-dial. Recently though, a rising tide has prevailed, and I’m not talking about the flooded streets of Venice. The bad boy supercars that once adorned Alpine Stereo posters are now commanding “serious coin”, and it was time to seek out the answers why.
Graciously taking time out of his schedule to answer a few questions in front of the famed Arizona Biltmore was Gord Duff, Global Head of Auctions for RM Sotheby’s. “There are more young people with wealth than 20 years ago, so of course what is currently in fashion is a reflection of that. Supercars are a great example.”
A little research from Hagerty Insurance confirms that Gen X and Millennials combined now outweigh Baby Boomers in the collector car market.
When asked about low mileage cars and special color combinations, Gord commented “Number matching cars will always bring a premium because they are simply a better investment, especially to the purist collector. A rare color combination though is a bit more dependent on personal taste. For those seeking exclusivity, it can add a level of rarity.” Witnessing a 900-mile 1995 Ferrari 355 sell for $224K the following day, I’d have to say Gord is right on the money; supercars are hot!
Further educating me on this unusually strong market climate was Senior Specialist David Brynan at Gooding & Co. “Right now, we are experiencing a low supply of really great cars. Combined with lots of liquidity as a result of profits from Wall St. and the real estate market, our clients continue to bid with confidence.”
Having just read an article on the potential for further growth in the Ferrari Dino market, I asked David for his opinion on the matter. “The Dino has such classic Italian lines. Unlike some other Italian cars that you would never dare take in city traffic, the Dino is fun to drive and relatively easy to maintain. The combination of Italian design and an enjoyable driving experience make it something collectors continue to find value in.” As I write this article, a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS from the Gooding & Co “Geared Online” auction just sold for$340K. For a 6-cylinder car assembled by Fiat, David’s remarks about the value of owning something both stylish and easy to ownare proving true.
As another “auction week” in Scottsdale wraps, we’re reminded of the basics of the auction business. While supply and demand steer the ship, pure emotion between buyer and machine ultimately decides what value a vehicle brings at any given moment. As generations with disposable income come and go, so too are the trends in the collector car market. Now more than before, supercars from the 1980s and 1990s are a validated investment. In other words, it’s time to make space in your garage and look for a good chiropractor.
Special thanks so Pauline Pechakjian and David Byrnan at Gooding & Company, Ethan Gibson and Gord Duff at RM Sotheby’s, and Whitney Maxwell at Bonhams.