The Classic Car Collecting Industry
Collector cars are big business and, for the first time, sales of sought-after vehicles at public auctions have crossed the $1 billion mark in a single year. Roughly $1.3 billion worth of automobiles were sold at collector car auctions in the United States in 2013, according to data from the collector car insurance companies. In 2004, that figure was around $282 million, or less than $350 million when adjusted for inflation. That’s a more than 270% increase in a decade.
Experts say the huge increase is not only due to more cars being sold but also the fact that those cars are going for higher prices. The average price of a car sold at a collector auction has risen from $33,000 in 2004 to $61,000 in 2014. The sheer number of cars sold at auction has gone from 8,600 to 19,600 over that time.
Auction companies and experts in the field cite a number of factors driving the huge increase in auction sales including an influx of international buyers and an increasing number of places and events at which buyers can drive, display and enjoy classic cars. There are classic car events of some sort taking place virtually every weekend.
Increasing globalization is also driving prices higher. It used to be the U.S. and Europe trading cars, then Japan came in. Now there are big collectors in Asia and Russia which is creating more demand. Many buyers are also seeing classic cars as an alternative “asset class” in which to invest money. There’s a lot of people with a lot of money and not enough places to put it!