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The classic car market in an era of COVID-19


1935Packard
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Maybe it's too early, but I'm curious if those who follow the market closely have a sense of how COVID-19 may be impacting the classic car market (other than just shutting things down, of course).  I think RM just finished up its online-only Palm Peach auction, which may offer some data points, and maybe there are other auction results out there, too.  

 

There are a lot more important things going on in the world right now, of course. But as my dad used to say, "if we don't have vodka, let's at least talk about vodka."

 

 

Edited by 1935Packard (see edit history)
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If cars were real estate or stocks we would be talking about a market correction.  I think that there will always be a certain market for the upper end very rare etc but really for the most part all of these cars were mass produced to one measure or another.  Perhaps the era of the over-restored cars will be over, in particular the 50's and 60's cars.  They were not necessarily well built to begin with and the door gaps etc were never perfect coming down the line.  I'm not sure how long ago things change from the Antique Car Market to the Collector Car Market but anything that is designated as having collector status rarely maintains its value for long.  Maybe in the long run a price correction is a good thing that will allow more people to participate and be more affordable.  Of course we will only know with hindsight and in the meantime get out and drive them - that's what they were meant for!

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I suspect when this whole thing is done, there may be more activity than usual. People will want to do fun things after not being able to for a while. Others may realize that life is short and to stop putting things off, and I suspect that restoration services and supplies will see a spike as well...people at home working on their cars, will want to finish them or find someone to do what they are not able to do with their skill sets or supplies. 

 

I imagine car shows will be packed when we are able to have them again, and I can't wait...even though around here they don't start until May, so technically have not missed any yet. Some are already cancelled though. 

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I suspect it's too early to know, as data is not yet available. I am hearing stories of folks getting lots of work done on their auto projects. I am included in that group. Yesterday I put in a 12 hour shift in my garage working on one of my cars. I visited a local Auto Parts store to pick up a few things this week. I asked the parts guy if business was quiet due to Covid-19. He said no, that they are seeing people coming in form all walks of life buying lots of parts for their vehicles. He said he's been selling some items that are rarely sold. So it does seem that folks stuck are home, that are into working on their own cars, are indeed doing so with vigour these days. Perhaps a slight resurgence in the old car market will happen after this is all over. I'd like to see a boom in economic activity when it's all over. I hope people do indeed want to celebrate. Get out and live life like the 1920's, or after WW2. Life's short and delicate. Perhaps more will whoop it up!

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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3 minutes ago, joe_padavano said:

I suspect that the crashing economy and tanking 401K accounts will put a damper on disposable income and luxury item purchases for some time.

And here comes Debbie Downer.  (just kidding). with all the doom and gloom in the news (yesterday's bright spot was that an asteroid might wipe out a large city in 2022, well atleast it wasn't Corona related) but I'll hope for the best case scenario, the resurgence for atleast a short time as peopler have ben couped up and told what not to do,  plus all the guys getting cars done or wanting that car as mentioned might mean some activity.  

I imagine online auctions will not bring the results of live televised ones.  No voluptuous  Bidding Coach, no TV exposure and free Alcohol to loosen the bidder up. Plus no face to face competition. 

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26 minutes ago, Roger Walling said:

 I received a call from a person that had been interested in buying my car for a few years and the first of the month he was going to fly 1000 miles to make the deal.

 Now the deal is in limbo.😞

 

If he's been interested for a few years and never pulled the trigger, this is only his latest excuse. There wasn't any plane ride in his future, coronavirus or no coronavirus...

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It has definitely corrupted some deals in the now.   Also, if you followed the RM Palm Beach auction,  none of the reserve cars sold and many of the no reserve cars were quite bargains.   So much so that I was forced to bid on a few of them.

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What I saw at RM PB was bidding to 40%-60% of the low estimate but was online only so no free drinks and screaming "helpers".

 

What I am wondering if driving will even reach 80% of pre-virus (suspect people are going to feel uncomfortable in malls or even big box stores for a long time) but more importantly, the people who previously had enough discretionary income to buy a toy will be reluctant to spend (and the way the stimulus is structured probably will not receive any payment). Florida in particular is taking a massive hit on a fragile economy that will not recover this year. Many are out of work. Suddenly "Escape from New York" is a reality and we rely on Yankee and Canadian dollars for much of our budget.

 

Dunno about other places but have a strong feeling about what is going to happen here and we started out "target rich". Recovery even to a much lower level is going to be slow.

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The term “buyer’s market” comes to mind.  In 1985 I was able to get a good deal on a house because the typical home mortgage rate was around 13% and most buyers did not want to jump in to those kind of rates.  As a single guy with a decent job I had saved money when the banks were paying 8% or more on savings.  For some this is an ideal time to buy stocks or slow moving big ticket items.

Edited by TerryB (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Matt Harwood said:

 

If he's been interested for a few years and never pulled the trigger, this is only his latest excuse. There wasn't any plane ride in his future, coronavirus or no coronavirus...

Probably the same guy who's been buying my Jaguar for 2 years!

Quote

 

 

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The world has been coming to an end for the last 1000 years.    The stock market is going to crash.(again, and again, and again!).    Young people have no respect for their elders.        “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”      Everything old is new again.   The times they are changing.  There is only one thing certain in this world.......none of us are getting out of it alive. I will continue to live my life, do my work, and play with my cars every day......come hell, high water, Corona 19, climate change, sea level rising, and any other wrath of God disaster that is thrown at me. Life is very, very short...........live it while you can. It’s going to be over much faster than you can imagine. I took two cars out for a drive today...........with my usual parking places along the beach closed to everyone, I parked in a no parking zone and read the paper. Cop came by and asked if I knew I was in a no parking anytime zone. I told him yes. But I thought that since traffic is down 95 percent, that the rules were not worth enforcing...........and since they closed the public parks, beaches, waterfront, and water ways, I decided unilaterally it was ok to park in front of the closed gate. 

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12 minutes ago, auburnseeker said:

I was hoping they were going to tow the Duessy.  I have a secure place to store it until it all blows over for them just to discourage you from being such a vagrant again. ;) 

Then I would finally have the D in ACD in the garage. 

 


 

Interesting factoid...........very, very few tow companies will tow a Model J............seems that the owners tend to be rather anal retentive and sue them for every little scratch or dent.........(true story!)

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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21 minutes ago, yachtflame said:

So Ed, do you need anything while in jail? 
 

wayne


The “three of us” are much harder to place under arrest than you can imagine..........😎 

 

 

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Ed, in looking at your tag lines, the one about prewar, I have a story on that.  About six weeks ago I gave a talk on the status of the antiques market as my wife and I dabble in a small way and have a booth at a local antiques mall.  During the talk I said that the term antique is now mostly referring to items made “prewar”.  A nice, quite old gentleman in the audience said, “oh, WWI era”?  So I guess prewar depends on when you were born.

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4 hours ago, auburnseeker said:

And here comes Debbie Downer.  (just kidding).

 

Actually, that's Ronnie Realist. If unemployment hits 20% and businesses shutter, there won't be a lot of extra cash for non-essential purchases. Believe me, I really hope I am wrong. I just hope a lot of the small repro parts vendors and restoration suppliers don't also go out of business as a result.

Edited by joe_padavano (see edit history)
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The reproduction parts guys have all been in trouble over the last five years..........nothing new there. While no one can predict the future, I expect thing to do the classics V curve, and I expect we will come out of this rather quickly. A positive and “can do” attitude is half the battle. Don’t let this 🦠 get you down........it will disappear as fast it came.

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Unless my landlord is willing to not get paid, unless the utility companies are willing to not get paid, unless the insurance company is willing to not get paid, I'll be gone by June...

 

Nice knowing you, guys...

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1 minute ago, Matt Harwood said:

Unless my landlord is willing to not get paid, unless the utility companies are willing to not get paid, unless the insurance company is willing to not get paid, I'll be gone by June...

 

Nice knowing you, guys...

I sure hope not!

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9 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Unless my landlord is willing to not get paid, unless the utility companies are willing to not get paid, unless the insurance company is willing to not get paid, I'll be gone by June...

 

Nice knowing you, guys...

Well think optimistically then and I'm not usually the optimistic one, because it will atleast help you sleep at night. 

I'm making it a point to watch a funny movie at night and turn off the news as much as possible.  Does seem to help some. 

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It is too early to tell. I live in Nassau County, on Long Island, and was at work  in Queens, when the attacks happened  on Sept. 11.  Never thought that would happen in our wildest dreams, yet a month later my friend and I were at Hershey. We were still reeling from the events, but it gave us something to help us change gears for a few days. We dealt with the tragedy the best that we could, and  we survived. I feel by the grace of God, we will survive this too. I think of may dad fighting during World War Two in the Pacific, and what he encountered., and put this virus  in perspective .  We will get through this, take nothing for granted.  Be positive, and when things get to be too much,, turn off the news, and  work on a project. Thanks. John

 

 

 

 

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Folks who buy collector cars do not live pay check to pay check. So unless the world comes to a complete end people are going to want toys. Once this is all over no matter how long it takes people are going to want to get out and celebrate. Reminding someone that life is short makes them not worry about spending on something they have always wanted. But if anyone wants to sell their cars at 90% off or trade them for toilet paper give me a call. This country has overcome many greater problems than this and always come out for the better. I foresee more American manufacturing in the future. This has shown us all that we should not, and cannot depend on china or anybody else.

 

Go out in your garages, polish your cars, fix all the little things you have been putting off doing. Take a ride around the block if you can. Wave to everybody, honk your horn and enjoy life the best you can. Pray to God and this will soon be over.

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1 hour ago, edinmass said:

Life is very, very short

Ed of all you or anyone here has written , this says it all. Some may think 'yeah I heard that before, always do'  well until you are in a situation where you experience or are close to experiencing  the permanent "lights out" for real, you have no idea of how grateful you will be every day there after that you wake up in the morning. Good day or bad day it is far better then no day. I have been in the no day twice in the past 40 years. Fortunately there are great caring doctors who can turn the lights back on in certain situations. Count your blessings , tell your friends how much they mean to you as often as possible, and be glad for the first time you got involved in old cars because if you hadn't none of you would be reading this now nor feel as good as you do by being here looking at the relics ( that includes cars as well as people!!) .

Walt

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BTW Ed, the defense for being in a "No Parking" was that if you are in the driver's seat, you are stopped and not parked. Anyone else remember signs that sad "No Parking or Stopping" ? Am always bothered by that non-Beer commercial.

 

ps agree about "collector cars" but great time to buy a nice but driven interesting car.

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54 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Unless my landlord is willing to not get paid, unless the utility companies are willing to not get paid, unless the insurance company is willing to not get paid, I'll be gone by June...

 

Nice knowing you, guys...

Hope not Matt , Hopefully USA will adopt same principle as Uk , most mortgages, payments , rents etc  given a compulsory 3 month suspension 

cheers

pilgrim 

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33 minutes ago, John S. said:

It is too early to tell. I live in Nassau County, on Long Island, and was at work  in Queens, when the attacks happened  on Sept. 11.  Never thought that would happen in our wildest dreams, yet a month later my friend and I were at Hershey. We were still reeling from the events, but it gave us something to help us change gears for a few days. We dealt with the tragedy the best that we could, and  we survived. I feel by the grace of God, we will survive this too. I think of may dad fighting during World War Two in the Pacific, and what he encountered., and put this virus  in perspective .  We will get through this, take nothing for granted.  Be positive, and when things get to be too much,, turn off the news, and  work on a project. Thanks. John

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same here, a day rarely goes by that I don't think of family members getting through the 1930's and WWII, their generation gave us all what we have today. See you at Hershey. Bob 

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I spoke a few days ago to a high-level person in

an auction house that deals in other collectibles,

not cars.  A lot may be anywhere from $500 to

$100,000 or more--with maybe the average being

$3000 for a typical collectible.  He said that with so

many of their bidders being on the internet these days,

with far fewer buyers attending the auction in person,

that the prices realized were not affected by the current problem.

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13 minutes ago, padgett said:

BTW Ed, the defense for being in a "No Parking" was that if you are in the driver's seat, you are stopped and not parked. Anyone else remember signs that sad "No Parking or Stopping" ? Am always bothered by that non-Beer commercial.

 

ps agree about "collector cars" but great time to buy a nice but driven interesting car.

 

He was actually "Standing" if he was in the car.

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1 hour ago, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

Same here, a day rarely goes by that I don't think of family members getting through the 1930's and WWII, their generation gave us all what we have today. See you at Hershey. Bob 

I agree , our parents and grandparents had what I consider a really tough time,  my grand mother had six shops in Hampshire before WW 2 , and  three houses which the family lived in , but German bombers , flattened 4 of the shops and 2 of the houses , with my mother asleep in them at the time. Quick thinking by my uncle in locating her and digging her out twice saved her life . I think listening to air raids , bit scarier than self isolating. Similarly Things will eventually return to some normality, like my grandmother she continued her business and by the early 50 s had restored her assets to a very substantial home for most of the family and 4 shops 

Edited by Pilgrim65 (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Unless my landlord is willing to not get paid, unless the utility companies are willing to not get paid, unless the insurance company is willing to not get paid, I'll be gone by June...

 

Nice knowing you, guys...

Same here. I'm ready to pack it in and tell all the fake customers to" go pound salt"

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7 hours ago, Matt Harwood said:

Unless my landlord is willing to not get paid, unless the utility companies are willing to not get paid, unless the insurance company is willing to not get paid, I'll be gone by June...

 

Nice knowing you, guys...

 

Matt, is your business temporarily closed by order of your state;

or do you mean that you're open but customers are scarce?

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9 hours ago, John S. said:

.  Be positive, and when things get to be too much,, turn off the news, and  work on a project.

 

This rings home for me. For a few days there I was engulfed by the news coming in from so many sources. I was watching TV, listening to the radio, and scouring multiple web sites for Covid-19 updates and stories. At one point it started to feel overwhelming. The world never ended. I still eat, sleep, work and play. This past weekend I spent about 18 hours working in my garage. I made tons of great progress on my old car. Today I was driving it around the block with a big smile on, not a care in the world. All that time in the shop was extremely relaxing and stress free. Well mostly, except when I struggled to re&re a master cylinder. Then had to pull it again when it didn't work right. Then re-install it again. For a couple days I didn't give much thought about Covid-19. I spent a lot of time doing something I really love. I feel refreshed and rewarded after a couple good, productive days of work.

Edited by keithb7 (see edit history)
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15 hours ago, alsancle said:

It has definitely corrupted some deals in the now.   Also, if you followed the RM Palm Beach auction,  none of the reserve cars sold and many of the no reserve cars were quite bargains.   So much so that I was forced to bid on a few of them.

 

In the short term, with people unable to travel, with stock prices down, and with unemployment spiking, I would guess that the classic car market ends up in a downturn.  A market in luxury goods generally doesn't do well when the economy goes down, and a hobby that requires driving doesn't do well when you often can't drive.  As with others, I just hope that the pain is short-term enough that it doesn't damage the support network (shops, part sources, dealers, etc.) on which the hobby rests.  Fingers crossed.

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It seems for now at least, a fair amount of folks are pressing forward with Model A projects.  Bought parts from 3 different vendors in last 2 weeks, and all were open and shipping.  I think these guys do 90% mail order anyway so hopefully they fare ok in coming months.

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Agree just suspect it will be a while before people want a new toy/project. Do think Amazon/UPS/FedEx/USPS are doing a great job during a trying time. I am getting deliveries before they are due. Don't know what the effect is going to be of shutting down the country for two months, no-one does. Do expect we will see the effects for years & some changes will be permanent.

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I tend to preach this like a squeaky wheel, but the Convertibles, Sport Cars, the really rare and good stuff, the stuff never abused or rusted, the stuff you can take to Concours events/shows, and ... will always do well even if their prices fall (it has always been expensive and it always will be expensive, and there will also be a market for such as Model T's, A's, V-8' and ...  - and all the rest pretty much good luck to you and ...  

 

And those who are waiting for their dream car to fall into their hands cheap probably are still going to be dreaming.  

 

The only problem is that restoration costs will probably go up and some of those crusty little shops that we so much love with really great knowledge about how to do some obscure needed project just may be one step closer to retirement or ...  

 

You hear me a lot talking about how the cost does not fit the project and people not expecting me to loose money on a restoration - well the brutal truth is most people may loose money any way about it, but minimization of losses is still going to be a concern.

 

And, very unfortunate that car show season is so disrupted. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, John_S_in_Penna said:

 

Matt, is your business temporarily closed by order of your state;

or do you mean that you're open but customers are scarce?

 

Nobody is buying cars. We ordinarily sell 12-15 a month, or one every 2 days on average. In March we sold 5 and none since March 23. I'm still paying my employees because I don't want them to have to go on unemployment and potentially lose them when/if things pick up, but I'm walking a very tight line right now and have already dipped into my home equity to keep things afloat. I need a new radiator cap for my Buick yet I am hesitant to spend the $25 to buy it...

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