AZ Auctions’ Preliminary Overall Total at $244 Million With Decreases in Sell-Through Rate and Average Sale Price

Scottsdale, AZ — The 2020 Arizona Auction Week — actually encompassing 10 days — concluded Sunday (Jan. 19) with a preliminary total of $244.1 million in overall sales. That’s a 3% decrease from 2019’s final $251 million tally, despite an additional 574 cars being sold (a 17% increase), but is 4.7% above what Hagerty had forecast.

Gooding topped overall results with this Ferrari F50. Image copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.
Photo by Mathieu Heurtault.

Gooding & Company scored the biggest sale with a $3.2 million 1995 Ferrari F50, and placed five cars in the overall top 10.

  • • 1995 Ferrari F50 Coupe: $3,222,500 (Gooding & Company)
  • • 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe: $3,000,000 (Barrett-Jackson)*
  • • 1932 Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl Phaeton: $2,425,000 (Gooding & Company)
  • • 2018 Pagani Huayra Roadster: $2,370,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
  • • 1948 Tucker 48 Sedan: $2,040,000 (Gooding & Company)
  • • 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible: $2,000,000 (Barrett-Jackson)*
  • • 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider: $1,985,000 (Gooding & Company)
  • • 1972 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider: $1,930,000 (Gooding & Company)
  • • 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter Cabriolet: $1,930,000 (Bonhams)
  • • 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider: $1,710,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
  • * charity car; funds to Detroit Children’s Fund and Boys & Girls Clubs of America/Bob Woodruff Foundation, respectively

The takeaway is that the dramatic drop at the Monterey auctions was not repeated, but vehicle condition was a key factor in sales. Finely presented and rare cars sold extremely well, but there were relatively few of those in the auction tents. Vehicles in #1 and #2 condition (“excellent” and “concours”) represented less than half the offerings — the lowest ratio Hagerty had observed in more than five years. Bidders, more cautious, passed on common vehicles with visible needs unless the price was sufficiently discounted. Sell-through rate was 77% (compared to 81% in 2019), and the average price slipped to $81,534 from last year’s $94,374.

At first glance, cars over $1 million seemed to have an easier time of it in Arizona; sell-through rate increased to 73% from 43% in 2019. Much of the improvement had to do with sellers’ and auction companies’ newfound caution in bringing such high-dollar rides to market. There were 25% fewer million-dollar cars on offer compared to last year, and most sold below Hagerty Price Guide (HPG) values. For the first time since 2012, no sale at the Arizona auctions surpassed $5 million.

The challenging environment for the most expensive cars has partly to do with what’s going on in the larger economy — the tide of investment dollars that flowed into this segment following the Great Recession has clearly slowed, and a tax advantage that allowed collectors to roll gains from car sales into other cars has been eliminated. But as with the rest of the collector car market, condition and provenance matters. Today’s cautious buyers will pay top dollar, but only for the best and rarest cars. Bonhams’ Alfa Romeo 8C 2300, the most expensive unsold car of the week, had a replacement engine, but a Hispano-Suiza J12 at Gooding that hadn’t been sold publicly in recent memory had no trouble beating its high estimate to bring $2.4 million.

There was plenty of buzz around Dodge Vipers. Early RT/10s in excellent condition brought nearly 40% above expected results based on HPG values — and that’s not including Lee Iacocca’s Viper, which sold for $285,500 to set a new record for the model.

2005–2006 Ford GTs also brought strong prices, with the best a 2005 example in a non-standard combination of midnight blue with silver stripes for $451,000 at Barrett-Jackson. And although American muscle cars and restomods remain the stars of Scottsdale, modern classics from Europe and Japan also did well. Barrett-Jackson sold a 1990 Toyota Supra Mk III Turbo with less than 100 miles for a record-setting $88,000. The Paul Walker collection offered by Barrett-Jackson contained five 1995 BMW M3 Lightweights, with the lowest-mile example selling for $385,000.

With the biggest auctions of the year now in the rear view mirror, it’s clear the collector car market has cooled from the highs of the previous decade, especially at the top. Yet for most car collectors — that is, those who buy cars for thousands, rather than millions of dollars — Scottsdale was business as usual. Barrett-Jackson alone drew more than 5,600 bidders and enjoyed its highest grossing week ever. Long-term owners are still realizing gains (In the current market, owners have typically reached break-even after three years of ownership). And, as always, the best cars continued to appreciate. But price-sensitive buyers should be aware of the chill that has set in upmarket, as it could creep downward. Knowing what you’re buying and buying for enjoyment are two strategies that are as important today as ever.

Preliminary results by company:

Look for further analysis and summaries in the “Racing Across the Block” feature in the March/April 2020 issue of Vintage Motorsport that mails to subscribers Feb. 21.

–Thanks to Jonathan Klinger at Hagerty for providing results and commentary.