HomeThe MarketAnalysis: Why some cars didn't sell during Arizona Auction Week

Analysis: Why some cars didn’t sell during Arizona Auction Week


Pre-war American cars not yet desired by next-gen buyers | Larry Edsall photos
Pre-war American cars not yet desired by next-gen buyers | Larry Edsall photos

While the various Arizona Auction Week sales enjoyed some $251 million in transactions and an overall sell-through rate of more than 80 percent, there were a number of no-sale cars this year, and many of them would have sold a year ago for the same high bids that were rejected this time.

Here are some of those cars that didn’t sell at Bonhams, Gooding & Company, and RM Sotheby’s, why I feel they didn’t sell, and what it means as the market moves ahead:

At Bonhams

BMW M1: This car had only one real flaw and that was the addition of a Procar front spoiler and bumper. I honestly feel that this car should have sold for the high bid and was baffled that the seller did not let it go, The M1 is still the bargain supercar and is worth between $300,000 and $450,000.

1973 Ferrari Dino 246GT: For the last few years, the Dino has been very much a car of the moment and many people rushed to raise their hands to pay double or even triple of what these cars were selling for not that long ago. Ferrari built a lot of these cars and buyers this year were not ready to pay any more than they were a year ago. Simply put, this car had a reserve that was unrealistic.

1939 Cadillac Series 75 convertible: This was a trend we saw all week — top-tier American classics were way off and struggled to sell for half their 2015 transaction prices. It seems as if fewer people, especially the new-to-the-hobby Gen-X buyers, are interested in these cars and as a result they are hard to sell for what they cost to restore.

1931 Packard Deluxe 8 Model 840 roadster: Like the ’35 Cadillac, these pre-war American cars proved hard to sell this year.

1965 Iso Griffo A3 Competizione Coupe: Another example of a very nice car that has had a serious increase in value but with a reserve that was too high. There are only a few people who are willing to pay for the privilege of owning these cars at the prices owners seem to be demanding for them.

At Gooding & Company

Was Gooding the wrong venue to sell an Indy car?
Was Gooding the wrong venue to sell an Indy car?

2014 Andretti DW12 DHL Honda-Dallara Indy car: In my opinion was simply a case of the wrong car in the wrong room. The high bid of $460,000 was way too low for this car, which included VIP access at all the races including the Indy 500 as well as the opportunity for sponsorship on the car during the season. This was a car that would have rung the bell at Barrett-Jackson and I wondered why it was not sold where the bidders would have likely paid close to (or even more than) a million dollars for the privilege.

1980 BMW M1: Another M1 and another no sale. The high bid of $480,000 was the highest bid on an M1 all week and should have taken this car home. We were astounded that the owner did not let the car go at this price.

1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88: I have often wondered about the C3 Corvette market and how an engine option makes for a car that costs 10 times the price of the standard car that looks almost exactly the same. Maybe there are more people out there wondering the same thing. This car should have sold for the $575,000 high bid.

1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4: Another no sale 365 GTC/4. These cars were unloved for quite awhile with awkward styling and four seats. Five years ago they could be bought for $100,000, but prices increased as with all Ferraris. They are good cars but this one should have sold for the $265,000 high bid. A definite market correction.

1967 Toyota 2000 GT: Another no sale 2000 GT at a price that a few years ago would have been a record. The seller should have cut the car loose at the $620,000 high bid as there is a definite market correction being seen here. On the other hand, the 2000 GT will likely increase in price so if the owner still likes the car we hope he enjoys it while the market moves up, as it likely will.

At RM Sotheby’s

1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 Cabriolet D: This was a car you either loved or didn’t, and in a color that was not the nicest for the car and with styling that was a bit awkward. We saw this one coming and sure, it was a great restoration of a rare car but the styling and the green color didn’t do it any favors on the auction block.

1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GT: Another Dino no sale that should have been cut loose by the seller at the $370,000 high bid. Considering that the more rare GTL sold at $390,000, we feel that the owner had an unrealistic expectation and a reserve that was too high.

1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2: Another correction we noticed was in classic Ferrari 2+2 cars. These cars were swept up in the skyrocketing Ferrari price increases of the last two years but it looks like buyers are no longer willing to pay extreme prices for 2+2 Ferraris. This car is another that the owner should have cut loose for the $310,000 high bid. The same applies to the pair of 365 GTC/4 2+2’s that were no sales at decent high bids.

Toyota 2000GT likely to approach $1 million again -- someday
Toyota 2000GT likely to approach $1 million again — someday

1967 Toyota 2000GT: The 2000GT is another car that has seen serious gains in value over the last few years with some selling for as much as a million dollars. These cars are still being figured out by collectors and are not yet all-day million dollar cars. The owner probably should have cut it loose at the $657,000 high bid, but is probably also smart if he keeps the car for a few years and watches the market.

1988 Porsche 959 Komfort: This is another car that has experienced a big run up over the last few years. These are awesome cars and one I particularly love, but the car should have been sold at the $800,000 high bid.

With more than a quarter-of-a-billion dollars in sales in Arizona, the classic and collector car market is in no risk of crashing. However, we are seeing a correction on quite a few types of cars.

These were really no surprise to anyone following the market; they have been very highly priced lately and were brought up by the increased prices being paid for best examples and for top-tier models.

The other correction, lowering prices for pre-war and early post-war American cars, is likely due to a diminishing audience for these cars.

However, the sky is not falling. Cars sold for strong values at every auction in Arizona, and at Mecum’s recent sale in Florida. We saw serious gains for cars that we would honestly consider lesser models, such as a 1975 Porsche 911 anniversary model that sold for an astounding $70,400.

As always, if you buy cars that you love, you cannot go wrong. No matter what the market does, you still have that car you always wanted.

But the market has gotten a lot more discriminating, which is a good thing, and especially for the long-term good of the market as a whole. We are likely seeing the new values for many classic and collectors cars as the market moves more into sync with reality.andysig

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.
  1. Before people freak out about this article, do understand that there were only 116 1969 L88 Corvettes produced, making it an extremely low production Corvette. I also think that these cars have reached a peak, with values at between $525,000 and $630,000. The car at Gooding should have sold for the high bid, especially in this market.

  2. Nice article with some valid points. Check out the recent article on Scottsdale at Corvetted.com. The author makes some great points on the market.

  3. Regarding top tier American Classics (true classics). I disagree with your numbers! According to the data I collected from all the auctions that had estimated values, 38% sold for in value range or above and a sell through rate of 69%. Although sell through was a little lower than average of the overall numbers they clearly didn’t sell for half their price as stated. Their may have been a few that did but if you look at what they were it would be obvious why. Kim Pierce

  4. Kim, I think Andy was echoing what was evident in every auction. The pre-war American classics were way off the mark when taken as a whole and a major contributor to the results. That fact and the flat market for European sports cars (excluding Porsches) played a part. I was surprised that one of the major factors affecting all of the Scottsdale auctions was that for the first year Mecum’s Kissimmee auction took place before Scottsdale this year. Traditionally Kissimmee (the largest of Mecum’s auctions) takes place after Scottsdale. Mecum’s sales were up 35% ($27M ) above last year – that factor cannot be overlooked.

  5. At RM Southeby’s auction, 17 pre WWII cars sold for less than the estimated minimum. Three were No Sale. Five sold for more than the estimated minimum. This would seem to bear out what ricktcorv said, except Post WW II cars missed the mark too. A 1968 Mercedes 280SL ‘Pagoda’ sold for $115,500 against an estimate of $150K. A 1960 Jaguar XK150 convertible sold for $154K against an estimate of $175K. A 1962 Aston Martin DB4 sold for $440K against an estimate of $525K. And on, and on… There were a lot of owners who must have truly regretted putting their cars in the auction at ‘no reserve’. Its easy to pick on Pre WW II cars because there are far fewer in the auctions. But low prices were posted for both pre and post WW II cars.

    • I agree with you. I didn’t mean to infer that post WWII cars sold well they didn’t but as a sampling the Pre WWII cars appeared to stand out as a weak category. I think the overall market would be classified as slipping with certain categories very weak. It is interesting to note that the results of Retromobile auctions in Europe appeared to be exceptionally strong.

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