Do regional auction companies need to merge to survive?

Do regional auction companies need to merge to survive?

We ponder that question and more as we sort through the inbox

From time to time, we all need to tidy up our garages. In my case, it’s also time to share some news and notes that have accumulated in my inbox:

Will (car auction) life reflect art?

In May, MAG, aka the Motorsports Auction Group, took over management of Silver Auctions Arizona’s collector car sales events in the Phoenix area. 

In July, artnet.com reported that “at a time of unprecedented competition, smaller auction houses are merging to stay in the (collector art) game.”

The website was reporting on the recent mergers of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers of Chicago and Cowan’s Auctions of Cincinnati as well as that of Wright Auctions of Chicago merging with Rago Arts & Auction of Lambertville, New Jersey.

“At a time when the long-dominant auction houses — Christie’s and Sotheby’s — are expanding their digital reach and investment in the middle market, smaller businesses feel they must take dramatic steps to remain competitive. And for some, that means consolidation.”

Among reasons for such mergers, according to Richard Wright of Wright Auctions, is the aggressive digital strategy of the big art-auction companies, which in the digital age “are doing 200 more sales a year of the kinds of lower-priced lots that used to go exclusively to the smaller auction houses.”

artnet.com adds that such online sales can open consignments to a much larger audience than those within driving distance of a regional sale.

So, we wonder, might we expect to see regional collector car auction houses announce their own mergers?

Young and old blame each other

Volvo commissioned a Harris Poll asking 2,000 respondents, among other things, to point fingers at the most dangerous demographic of drivers on the roads. 

Nearly two-thirds of all surveyed said teenagers are the most dangerous drivers, but those in Generation Z, well, at least 58 percent of them, said it was senior citizens who presented the biggest threats to safety on the roadways. 

Do you eat while driving?

I’m old enough to remember when European automotive engineers were amazed and perplexed that Americans expected to have cupholders in their vehicles. 

In typical European engineering over-reaction, Mercedes-Benz responded with a cupholder that emerged from the center console and opened by rotating and blossoming like a flower. An early Porsche design put the cupholder in a position in which your coffee cup sat directly in the airflow from the dashboard air conditioning vents, robbing you of that cool breeze while turning your hot cup of joe into an unsatisfying chilled beverage.

What brings all this to mind is a study by England’s University of Leeds that driver reaction time drops by more than 40 percent when the driver is eating while behind the wheel. Further, get caught eating or drinking while driving in Spain and it costs you €200. The penalty in England is only half that amount, but you also lose three points on your driver’s license.

Garlits sets electric drag racing record

At age 87, Don “Big Daddy” Garlits in slowing down, though only a little. The most famous drag racer in history recently set yet another record, though the speed of 189.03 miles per hour in his Swamp Rat 38 disappointed him.

For perspective, you need to know that Swamp Rat 38 is an electric-powered dragster, and Garlits and his team were hoping to exceed 200 mph, and might have except for two dead cells in the car’s batteries.

“It’s the same concept as running a V8 on seven cylinders,” Garlits’ grandson, Rodney Garlits, told the Palm Beach (Florida) Post.

Assault at Bonneville

Speaking of speed records, “Land Speed” Louise, aka Louise Noeth, reports that while many people are working hard to preserve the Bonneville Salt Flats for speed-record runs, two people recently used a modified Ford Crown Vic to damage part of the salt crust, and this wasn’t the first time they’d done so. 

“The racing community urges the BLM to pursue violations of rules and regulations governing the Bonneville Salt Flats,” said Save the Salt Foundation vice chairman Tom Burkland. “Enforcement will help send a message where signs and other warnings have proven to be insufficient mechanisms. The public must respect this environmental jewel.” 

Ian Callum launches new enterprise

Ian Callum update

We reported in early July that, at age 64, Ian Callum, who designed some of the world’s most beautiful vehicles while working at Ghia, TWR, Aston Martin and Jaguar, was leaving Jaguar Land Rover after 20 years as head of design.

We now share word that Callum and three others with extensive automotive engineering and management experience have launched Callum CBE, a design and engineering company to create bespoke and limited-edition design, lifestyle and travel products, including automobiles.

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