While there are numerous automotive auctions held each year at various locales around the country and there's always some auction action online, if you're looking for auctions that specialize in Corvettes-and possibly Corvettes only-then your scope narrows considerably. Corvettes, like the people who buy, own, and cherish them, are special, and so it stands to reason that auctions specializing in them are special, too.
Since lots of people seem to have more "disposable" income (a term I have a problem comprehending since I've never considered any of my income to be "disposable"), the collector car market has boomed, and so have the prices being paid for these vehicles. In the last few years, we've seen absolutely incredible prices being paid for musclecars. those same high-powered tin sleds that cost under $4,000 when they were new are now getting six- and even seven-figures on the auction block! But it's not limited to musclecars; classic cars such as Duisenbergs, Pierce-Arrows, Auburns, and others are also fetching top-dollar prices at auctions. And, believe it or not, even street rods are commanding huge sums of money. So it shouldn't come as any surprise that Corvette prices are at the top of their game these days, as well.
Because there are so many boomers with all this disposable income, we're seeing more and more of these people turn up at auctions, and, to some extent, they are the ones responsible for driving the prices up so high. Many of these folks are of a "gotta have it" mindset for whatever the reason. perhaps it's the car they always wanted in their youth, but could never afford; maybe it's their way of rewarding themselves for making good in their careers all these years; perhaps it rekindles the fond memories of their adolescence. whatever the reasons, they're out there bidding, and, apparently for many of them, money is no object.
We spoke with Terry Michaelis, president of ProTeam Corvette Sales, to get some of his expert insight on the Corvette market in general and Corvette auctions in particular.
The first thing that came up was the prices Corvettes are commanding and getting these days at auction. Michaelis says, "Well, there are two things you've got to look at. First, what's a lot of money to a guy who's on welfare? Twenty dollars is a lot of money to him. Now, what's a lot of money to a guy who's just sold 20 percent of his company for $550 million? Is $300,000 a lot of money to that guy? And Speed-TV and ESPN2 have brought car collecting to everyone's living room, so it's become very popular.
"Ostensibly, since the car collector hobby has been exposed and opened-up to the masses, it has attracted more devotees and buyers, which also serves to drive prices up.
"Last year, we spent $6.5 million with Mecum, and so far this year, we've spent $2.9 million with Barrett-Jackson." This money was spent on acquiring inventory, but Michaelis had this to say about buying at auctions. "The biggest thing I preach about this auction thing is, do your due diligence. People want to know why I went to the Barrett-Jackson West Palm Beach auction two days early. I went there because I had to spend time with these cars. I mean I follow them all the way-I don't go sit out in the audience and buy a pretty face. I'm always working the staging area. I want that car to talk to me. I want that car to talk and tell me why I should pay more than what I may have been thinking when it was just sitting there, or why I shouldn't. I want to listen to that motor, to look at the car from different angles, and stand back from it. that's when you can see waves in the body or this or that. they all look great underneath the bright lights.