The Market


A year of two halves… Classic Car Auction Yearbook 2019-2020

A year of two halves… Classic Car Auction Yearbook 2019-2020 28th October 2020

Authors Adolfo Orsi and Raffaele Gazzi have once again crunched the numbers to produce the ultimate ‘long read’ on movements in the classic car market over the last 12 months. From September 2019 to early March 2020, the trend was for healthy sales pre-Christmas followed by weaker results in the New Year. Then, immediately post-Amelia Island, the pandemic struck.

The book is in its 25th year of publication under the current authors, though its origins lie in the Catalogo Bolaffi first published in the early 1990s. This year’s edition follows the familiar format of introductory overviews of business from the Big Three international salerooms – rest easy, they are still doing really well! – followed by key market indicators from the period studied: top ten cars, sell-through, percentage at No Reserve, the ‘Gullwing’ and F40 market, and much more.

Later in the book, as usual, every sale per significant auction and model is listed.

The COVID pandemic blazed its way through collector car sales in the second half of the year – cancelling many of them including Pebble – so the authors have also analysed 2019-2020’s figures in two halves. It’s a fascinating picture. With the rise of online sales, in some ways the situation is not so bad, as sell-through has hardly changed. However, the cancellation of Monterey Week in particular has shifted all the really big-ticket items to specialist dealers and consultants. At $75m, August turnover this time is a pale shadow of the disappointing $225m in 2019, let alone $390m in 2013-2014. Average price per car sold has plummeted.

As a result, the unlikely cover car is neither an Alfa Romeo 8C nor or Comp’ 250 GT SWB sold at Pebble Beach, it’s the 2014 Lamborghini Veneno successfully auctioned by Bonhams at Bonmont last year for the equivalent of $8.34m. To aid the comparison, this edition handily goes down memory lane with the top sales from 1993-1994 to date. The path travelled by the market from 1993’s 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Tourer that achieved $1.76m (around $3.17m today) to 2019’s brash modern roadster is an interesting one, and it is charted year by year.

We generally end reviews of the Classic Car Auction Yearbook with a recommendation to buy the latest edition. This year is no exception.


Photos by K500