HomeCar CultureCommentaryRear view: No. 6 - Year began with such optimism

Rear view: No. 6 – Year began with such optimism

After Kissimmee and Arizona auctions in January, the outlook for 2020 was bright and sunny

Year in Review

Oh, how soon we forget. Yes, 2020 has been a dismal year, but back in January, following Mecum’s massive sale in Kissimmee and the success of Arizona Auction Week, the outlook was bright and sunny, and in stark contrast to the gloom and doomsayers just a few months earlier after disappointing Monterey Car Week auction outcomes.

The 2019 Monterey auction sales totaled less than $265 million, more than $100 million short of 2018, and there were worries about how the collector car marketplace would do in the months that followed.

But then came 2020 and Mecum’s auction in Florida and an Arizona Auction Week during which sales surpassed, albeit only slightly those of the previous year and, as we reported at the time, “Granted, there were 574 more cars sold this year than last, a 17 percent boost, and one more auction added to the busy schedule. But still, it’s a victory for the Arizona auctions, which tend to set the tone for the coming year.”

Barrett-Jackson’s Scottsdale sale reported more than $141 million in sales, a record for the 49-year-old company, and Mecum’s Kissimmee sale, boosted by all the attention drawn by the offering at auction of the “hero car,” the Steve McQueen-driven Ford Mustang from the movie, Bullitt, did $105.1 million, just shy of the record $107.5 million in sales at Kissimmee the previous year.

And there was real cause for optimism because, “The strength of the market going into the new year, the Arizona results show, is in the broad middle and lower end of the collector car spectrum, with fewer high-dollar cars being offered and many of them failing to reach expectations.”

Multi-million-dollar sales are great, but they are only the tip of the collector car iceberg. 

Optimism abounded. Mecum launched a new “Gallery” sales division to do smaller “exposition” sales at new venues, such as the Boca Raton concours, Barrett-Jackson got a new television deal, this time with A+E Networks and the History and FYI channels, and the collector car auction world was eager for what awaited. 

Of course, then came the coronavirus pandemic and that optimism evaporated as auction after auction was either postponed or canceled, including the entire Monterey Car Week.

Year in Review Series

Looking back at the most influential automotive stories and events of 2020.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here