A 1955 Aston Martin DB3S takes part in the Mille Miglia
The $48.4 million 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was the biggest headline in the collector car world in 2018. This blue-blooded Italian captured the highest price ever paid for a car at auction at RM Sotheby’s Monterey, California, auction in August. Despite drawing huge crowds to the auction room, the sale was overshadowed by another 250 GTO that reportedly sold for $70 million in the private market earlier in 2018. During the same August weekend, a 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Roadster sold for $22 million at Gooding & Company’s auction. After bidding stalled near the $10 million estimate, it burst back into life and finished at a record for an American car and a public record for a pre-war car.
Plenty happened elsewhere in the collector car world last year that will have a more lasting impact than those eight-figure sales. For the first time, younger generations became the majority of people who were interested in acquiring collector vehicles, and their influence became evident in some surprising ways. Unlike Baby Boomers, younger collectors—Gen-X and millennials—don’t collect the cars of their youth.
One of the Golden Rules of car collecting is that people buy the cars they wanted (or had) as youths. Which means that over the past two decades, Baby Boomers were buying 1960s and 1970s sports and performance cars with fervour. Now that Gen-X and millennial buyers are moving into the market, logic suggests they will buy newer cars, but it turns out that cars from the 1960s and 1970s are just as compelling to these younger collectors. And who can blame them? Those cars were at their unregulated best—raucous, stylish, purely analog machines— and they are antidotes to today’s computerized cars.
For years, Baby Boomers have dominated the collector car market, but their children are edging in. At the end of 2017, the majority of requests for quotes that Hagerty received to insure a collector car tipped toward Gen-X and younger enthusiasts. That trend continued in 2018, with 53% of quotes coming from Gen-X and younger collectors.
Another interesting facet that our data reveal: While Baby Boomers tend to have cars that are on average 14 years younger than they are, millennials tend to own cars that are on average seven years older than them. Among Hagerty policy-holders, the median model year for Pre-Boomers is 1964, Boomers 1968, Gen-X 1970, and millennials 1970.
New digital marketplaces for collector cars went mainstream in 2018. Curated online auction site Bring a Trailer increased its offerings to approximately 40 vehicles per day. Auctions start five days a week, and each auction lasts one week, providing plenty of time for opinionated commenters to weigh in. People visit the site not just to shop, but for entertainment. Facebook Marketplace is also gaining momentum. The established identities of the Facebook community and the network’s ability to present specific content of interest give it two big advantages over traditional online classifieds like Craigslist. The third online marketplace that grew in popularity in 2018 is Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo app. Instagram’s emphasis on visual content is an excellent medium for selling discretionary items, from handbags to antiques. Some vintage-car dealers sell primarily through Instagram, an undeniable acknowledgement of the ease and reach of these digital platforms.
TOP 10 AUCTION RESULTS FOR 2018
1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO SI Coupe
$48,405,000 (approx. £36,500,000), RM Sotheby's
2. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti
$22,005,000 (approx. £16,600,000) RM Sotheby's
3. 1935 Duesenberg SSJ Roadster
$22,000,000 (approx. £16,600,000), Gooding & Company
4. 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Competition Prototype
$21,455,000 (approx. £16,200,000) RM Sotheby's
5. 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Coupe
$13,315,899 (approx. £9,910,000) Bonhams
6. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II Coupe
$9,795,000 (approx. £7,385,000) RM Sotheby's
7. 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale Coupe
$8,085,000 (approx. £6,138,000) Gooding & Company
8. Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Coupe
$6,600,000 (approx. £6,010,000) Gooding & Company
9. 1932-34 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Grand Prix Monoposto
$6,067,210 (approx. £4,574,000) Bonhams
10. 1985 Porsche 959 Paris-Dakar Rally Car
$5,945,000 (approx. £4,482,000) RM Sotheby's