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Last week I asked a fellow collector is he was attending the Arizona car auctions. He said that, instead, he was staying home and watching wrestling on TV. Many collectors must wonder if the only way to buy or sell a collector car any more is at an auction. There are so many auctions now it's hard to believe that there are actually that many collector cars available. In fact, some of these cars seem to be perpetually for sale; they appear in one auction after another. Nowhere is all of this more apparent than in Arizona in January, where all of the major car auction companies are now conducting auctions. Thousands of people head to Arizona to take in one or more auctionsBarrett-Jackson, RM, Gooding, Russo & Steele and Kruse. (I may have missed someone.)
Although there are some great cars in these auctions there are also a plenty of cars to avoid. If ever the Latin phrase Caveat Emptor applied, this is it! When considering a car at auction it's absolutely imperative that you do your homeworkor as some folks like to say your due diligence. I have first-hand experience as both a buyer and seller at high-end auctions. Learn everything you can about the car prior to the sale. If you have any doubts about certain aspects of a car, bid accordinglyor don't bid at all. I once bought a car that had been judged nearly perfect by a national car clubonly to discover that everything that had been done to the drive train, including the motor, was cosmetic. It was a tired car that needed major mechanical attention. Had I made a couple of strategic phone calls prior to the sale I would have learned more about the quality of restoration on that car. I learned my lesson. (In fact, the best auction houses will tell you the same thingdo your homework.) If you enjoy the auction scene, have funbut proceed cautiously.
It's that time of year when throngs of enthusiasts and their letters of credit flock to Scottsdale for the bevy of collector car auctions happening this week. Barrett-Jackson is the most highly publicized with about a zillion hours of coverage on the Speed cable network but there are actually several other auctions being held around Scottsdale at the same time. RM is a mainstay at the Arizona Biltmore with a fantastic array of large American Classics and historic European sporting vehicles. Gooding moved in last year and has already come close to trumping RM at their own game. The three ring circus and flash of Russo and Steele is something to behold while the entry level collectables at the Silver Auction at Fort McDowell are accessible to just about anyone. And, despite everyone's predictions over the past few months, Dean Kruse has figured out a way to do an auction in Arizona this year also.
If you're a car guy*, Scottsdale in January is a rite of passage; something you should do at least once in your life. Watching it on television is fun, but there's nothing like being there. I've convinced my wife to go with me this year and I can't wait to hear what she thinks about the events. Anyone care to share their thoughts and predictions about the collector car auction scene, especially in today's economy?
First, a disclaimer¦I am only a pseudo car guy*. My everyday driver is a Saturn Vue, I do not own a classic, and I can't tell you what year ANY car is by looking at the headlights, taillights, windshield or fenders. But, while my knowledge is limited my appreciation is great.
In my younger days my interest in the classics was limited to Mustangs. I'll admit these are still near and dear to my heart but over the last few years, thanks to some friends who knew it was time for my horizons to be expanded, I have been introduced to some of the most beautiful automobiles ever produced. I am star struck traveling to the wonderful car shows that are held every summer in northeast Ohio. Someday I will make my way to Amelia and Meadow Brook but with Stan Hywet and the Glenmoor Gathering so close to home I'm in no hurry. These events draw spectacular cars from around the country and I am always amazed at how many find their way home to garages in our area. My automotive education is far from complete but I am thoroughly enjoying the journey.
The all important December car sales numbers are in and Ford is the big winner. Unit sales increased more than 30% over December, 2008. All in all, this capped off a banner year for Ford sales relative to the rest of the industry. Toyota, Honda and Nissan all showed double digit increases over last December's sales but the other two major U.S. manufacturers registered sales declines. General Motors sales were down nearly 6% and Chrysler showed a 4% decrease.