This year, however, things were different. According to market experts Hagerty, the total number of cars offered for sale at Retromobile 2017 fell by 10 per cent, average sale prices were down by 9 per cent, and there were no $10m+ cars at all.
Speak to any bar room expert, and they’ll tell you the answer is obvious: the market in February 2017 is markedly different to the way it was 12 or 24 months ago. They will say investor confidence has been hit by uncertainty around Brexit, exchange rates, and what The Donald is going to tweet about next. Values have been on their way down for a while, they will tell you, and it will only get worse.
The real story seems to be a little more complex. True, uncertainty has affected the market, but the real story of Retromobile 2017 was one of quiet success, especially at the top of the market. Despite fewer cars crossing the block overall, the number of $500,000+ cars increased by 46 per cent, and these cars sold well, with a sell-through rate of 89 per cent. This drove up the median sale price for all cars 36 per cent over last year’s figures.
Interestingly, over the other side of the Atlantic, almost exactly the opposite is happening. A few weeks ago at Scottsdale, Hagerty reported that the number of $500k+ cars dropped 17 per cent over 2016, and those cars had a sell-through rate of just 67 per cent.
So what’s happening? In Europe, many collectors seem to be consolidating: Reducing the number of cars in their collection and replacing quantity with quality. This is borne out not just by the Retromobile figures, but many other recent UK auction results, where the best examples of almost everything – from Fords to Ferraris- have tended to out-perform their estimates.