“All positive figures across the board”: Classic Car Auction Yearbook 2021-2022
With the number of million-dollar auction cars at an all-time high, the sale of the most expensive classic car ever and a bumper turnover recorded during Monterey Week, the 12 months ending August 2022 were good ones for the car collecting world. As always, Adolfo Orsi has recorded the highs (and occasional lows) in the latest edition of his Classic Car Auction Yearbook.
The volume has always been a ‘must-have’ on every serious collector’s bookshelf, the definitive written account of annual classic car trading at most public auctions with the close of Monterey Week in August the cut-off. This year’s edition is no exception, and it provides a valuable offline resource to augment the instant results and comment available on K500.com.
That said, every commentator’s task has been made infinitely harder recently with the profusion of – sometimes pop-up, here today and gone tomorrow, often impossible to verify – online sales that are difficult to cover comprehensively. Plus, the unusual nature of the invitation-only auction by RM Sotheby’s of the Mercedes-Benz SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé for a World Record €135m. Suddenly, with just one car, all sorts of metrics required reassessment: price trends of Mercedes as a marque; $143m added to the aggregated 12-monthly turnover; average price per car sold; EU vs. US sales stats, etc.
In addition to a listing of all results including Not Solds, the book includes the familiar Top Fives year by year from 1993 (a pre-War lockout) to 2020-2021 (Covid affected, headed by a McLaren F1 road car sold at a live auction) and the present day, when the Top 10 cars sold at auction are listed with catalogue descriptions.
The well-known graphing is there for ‘standards’ such as the Ferrari ‘Daytona’, Dino 246 and F40, also Mercedes 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ and Roadster, Porsche 959, Jaguar E-type, Lamborghini Miura P400 SV and more – all available on K500. A personal favourite is the way cars traded more than once are given a separate section. This is the truest method of charting values, though it fails to recognise restorations or serious accidents that might befall individual chassis along the way. And Orsi rightly points out the cost of selling at auction; the big gap in what a buyer pays and what the seller receives. That ‘profit’ soon disappears in fees, and a hefty premium paid by the new owner but not received by the vendor.
Principals of the top auction houses are once again given a platform, most of whom give their thoughts on the past 12 months with surprising frankness. Finally, the move to more recent supercars bought by younger collectors – some in their 30s cashing on soaring IT stocks in the US – is noted.