Even with its Arizona sales down, Gooding & Company sees strength in classic car marketplace

Even with its Arizona sales down, Gooding & Company sees strength in classic car marketplace

What everyone seemed to be talking about during Arizona Auction Week was the sale on the opening day of the Gooding & Company event.

Photos by Larry Edsall

Photos by Larry Edsall

Gooding & Co. Arizona 2014 at a glance

Total sales $49.46 million
Catalog 117 automobiles
Sell-through rate 94 percent
High sale $6.16 million
1958 Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet
Next 9 price range $1.53 million to $5.28 million
Next auction March 7 at Amelia Island, FL

What everyone seemed to be talking about during Arizona Auction Week was the sale on the opening day of the Gooding & Company event of a garage-found 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “gullwing” coupe for just shy of $1.9 million. We’ll also be discussing that sale, and with Gooding car specialist Garth Hammers providing his perspective, though not right now, not in this article, but in another we’re working on for later in the week.

Here, with Hammers’ help, we want to put the overall Gooding sale in perspective, and thus must point out that Gooding & Company was the only one among the six auctions in Arizona to take in less money this year than it did at its sale the previous year.

Nonetheless, Hammers said, “We were very satisfied, very happy, and we see all sorts of strength in the market. We just saw a slightly smaller number, (although) not a negligible amount.”

In Arizona in 2013, Gooding sold 101 classic and collector cars for $52.6 million. In 2014, those figures were 110 vehicles for $49.5 million. Gooding’s 6-percent drop is all the more noticeable when you consider that the other five auctions enjoyed a 16-percent increase in sales at their 2014 Arizona sales.

But things are far from bleak at Gooding. For one thing, its Scottsdale catalog in 2013 included a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder that sold for more than $8 million (making it the eighth-most expensive car sold at any auction anywhere on the planet in 2013).

For another, one of the high-dollar cars that did not sell during Gooding’s 2014 Scottsdale auction, a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, already has sold during the 30-day post-auction sales period, which probably boosts Gooding’s Scottsdale total by another $2 million.  There is at least one other similarly valued car from the auction for which Gooding specialists are working to close a deal.

“We’ve had a good number of 100-percent sold sessions at Scottsdale,” Hammers said. “It needs to be expected that something won’t sell. It always comes down to the bidders in the room, not the day.”

Though a Cal Spyder at RM led all sales in Arizona this year, Gooding did post the Nos. 2 and 3 cars, getting $6.16 million for a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT cabriolet and $5.28 million for a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR racer. The $3.3 million paid for a 1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica gave Gooding three of the top-5 sales at Arizona, a very strong showing indeed.

gooding1Gooding’s Scottsdale sale has become so consistently strong that this year it moved to a larger piece of ground on the other side of Scottsdale’s Fashion Square mall so it could set up its new and enlarged set of auction tents — four of them arrayed around an open, courtyard-style display area.

That same setup will be used later this year at Gooding’s big Pebble Beach auction, but they also were needed at Scottsdale where the big auction-block tent was packed to overflowing both days of the sale.

“A couple of times I had to race to the back of the auction room to affirm bids back there and it was tough to get back there (through the crowd),” Hammers said.

Not only the size of the crowd but its composition brought a smile to Hammers and the other Gooding’s staffers. That’s because many of the faces Hammers saw in the room were unfamiliar, and that’s a good thing.

New bidders, he said, are “a great indicator of strength in the market. The cars are not just trading among people we’ve known for a number of years. There are new bidders with new enthusiasm. Some are younger, but they’re not always younger. But we’re seeing bidders in their 30s and 40s, coming into their own.”

Hammers said some of those new bidders have grown up in car-collecting families, but many others have not. Many, he said, have friends with classic cars who have talked about how much fun they have on vintage vehicle tours and rallies being staged all around the country and even overseas.

“They’ve heard about this rally or that one and they say, ‘I want to go next year,’ and now they’re turning into real enthusiasts,” Hammers said. “The events, and the popularity of events, that have taken place over the last five or six years has driven this.”

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