The final results from the “Scottsdale” auctions have finally been published by the auction companies, added to the spreadsheet with the previous ten years’ results, chewed on a little and examined for potential messages in the tea leaves at the bottom of the Scottsdale cup.
Looking back over the last decade of Scottsdale auctions 2018 was the lowest sale total, $232,762,100, despite now comprising seven auctions and a total of twenty selling days, since 2014. Even the total number of cars offered suffered with 2,554 offered, the lowest since 2015.
2,294 lots were sold, an 89.8% sell-through. The average transaction was $101,466 and the median was $45,920, both better than last year due to the smaller number of lots sold, 2,717 sold last year out of 2,965 offered, a 91.6% sell-through, the latter the best-ever for the Scottsdale auctions in the past eleven years.
Scottsdale’s sell-through is notably skewed by the predominance of No Reserve cars at Barrett-Jackson, this year being 1,731 sold of 1,751 offered for a total of $113,856,655, almost half of the week’s total sale, and B-J’s second highest sale after 2015’s blockbuster $130,423,750.
The strength of this year’s Scottsdale sales was in the middle of the market, at the top it was surprisingly soft. 41 lots hammered on bids of $1 million or more, 29 of them sold, a 70.7% sell-through but bringing a total of $62,240,000 (including commission) of which $3.9 million were cars sold for charity at Barrett-Jackson that included $2.5 million for a 2017 Ford GT.
Barrett-Jackson’s total raised for charities over its history this year crossed the $100 million mark, a significant indicator of the car collecting hobby’s generosity, both consignors and bidders.
As always, there were winners and losers. Notably, both Jaguar D-types failed to sell, as did the ex-Reichsministry Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser armored Offener Tourenwagen. The top sale of the week was Gooding & Company’s Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale built for Battista Pininfarina which sold for $8,085,000, the seventh time in eleven years that a Ferrari took top honors in the Scottsdale sales.
Newer model cars (defined here as 25 model years old or newer, i.e., 1993 and newer this year) are an increasingly significant component of the Scottsdale auctions. This year they represented 20% of the total consignment, 19.7% of the lots sold and 19.4% of the total sale even though their sell-through was only 88.3%, 1.5 points less than the overall sell-through.
That’s up from 13.3% of consignments, 12.8% of sold lots, 14.4% of the total sale and an 87.8% sell through in 2017 and 14.8%, 15.1%, 16.3% and 89.8% sell-through in 2016.
A representative example can be seen in Porsche 918 Spyders. There were four in the Scottsdale sales; only two sold, leaving close to $3 million in total on the table.
The supply of collector cars in or available to the marketplace is finite and is stretched thinner by an ever-increasing number of auctions. Mecum had more than 3,000 cars in Kissimmee the week before Scottsdale (actually overlapping the beginning of Barrett-Jackson). Two weeks later there is a spate of auctions in Paris during Retromobile.
During Scottsdale it was announced that the Leake Auction Company had been bought by Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers, a publicly traded (NYSE RBA) auction house specializing in heavy equipment with 44 locations worldwide and $4.5 billion in 2017 No Reserve auction sales. Ritchie Bros. recently acquired Iron Planet, an online equipment auction which had provided online sale support to Leake. Ritchie Bros. entry into the collector car market is an unexpected disruption from an ambitious, aggressive and profitable worldwide organization.
Another measure of the pressure on consignments can be seen from the number of cars turning up at auction more than once. In Scottsdale they were over 30% of all consignments, In U.S. collector car auctions the number of consignments seen more than once … just in my less-than-complete database … is consistently above 20%.
In other words, there’s a lot going on in an auction segment that is nowhere near moribund.