While there are many industry databases crunching numbers on sales figures, none can accurately track the human emotion that steers the direction of the collector car market. We came away from the Mecum Auction in Chicago on October 6 to 8 with a few new observations regarding the intangible elements of the human psyche that forecasts market trends.
|Pastel Blue is the new Resale Red for Trucks|
Older trucks are hitting record high prices at auction, and many top-flight restorations are showing up in friendly shades of pale blue. Perhaps the hue makes the purchase more agreeable to a skeptical spouse, but whatever the case, strong vintage truck prices at Mecum Chicago exceeded the results of some muscle cars in similar condition.
|Affordable for now: 1971-1973 Mustangs and Cougars|
Attractive if not a bit underpowered, the 3rd generation Mustangs and Cougars, especially the convertibles, are some of the last sub-$15k values of their era. Most were issued with automatic transmissions making for tepid performance. However, anemic motors can be easily fortified with aftermarket performance parts as has been done with most of the Corvettes, Camaros and Firebirds of the same age, without concern for authenticity. The Mecum/NBC broadcast team were busy filming these two consignments to make that very same point.
|Bandits bringing brothers along|
No news that black-and-gold “Smokey and the Bandit” Pontiac Trans Am values continue to rise, but they’re dragging their 1975-1981 Second Generation F-body brothers along with them. Charter members of the Eviscerated Era, many of these cars have now been modified for performance and are fun drivers especially with 4-speed manual transmissions.
Look for values of other color-schemed TA’s, Firebird Formulas and Camaro Z-28s to close the gap with the black/gold Anniversary Trans Ams now enjoying a premium. Bandits are poised to become one of the highest-value domestic cars of the emission-restricted late 1970’s, with a nicely restored 1979 example fetching $43,000 at Mecum Chicago.
|Cosworth Vegas are neat cars, but the world doesn’t care|
A ubiquitous auction car, the Cosworth Vega has been passed over by the rising-tide of collector car values for many cycles now. Europeans who love interesting powered compacts should care, but don’t. And Americans just have too many other options. There’s an abundance of low-mileage examples out there holding onto the dream of appreciation potential, with no savior on the horizon. Keep one to enjoy, but sell now if it’s your 401k.
|Cars sell better at No Reserve|
That statement may seem obvious, but buyers can get weary of the “guess my price” game no reserve auctions. They are there to buy, and if repeatedly frustrated will start to become apathetic. Here’s the point: if you trust in the auction model enough to consign your vehicle, extend that trust to bargain psychology, real or perceived. Today’s buyers are looking for steals; sellers are looking for top dollar. No reserve lots let every buyer think they have a real shot at “stealing” the car.
Allow the process to take hold; engage bidders early and they are likely to bid more than once. Even dealers are human and can overpay in the heat of the moment. We have seen this trend become more pronounced; buyers keep their powder dry for no reserve cars they know will sell, often resulting in premium sales through competing bidders.
Mecum Chicago featured a cache of vintage Nashes from the Weldon Collection, all offered at no reserve on the last day of the auction. Bargain hunters stayed until they crossed the block, and hammer prices still were more than respectable.