Good Day car enthusiasts everywhere, I will probably get ostracized for writing this article, however, do keep in mind that I am a real car guy in the business…. but hey, what the heck, it’s my website, this is my story and I am sticking to it! Wow, deja vu 1989, 2006 all over….2016??? what’s up? The prices are crazy again… or are they? I am not sure if anyone is paying attention or if they are caught up in the moment. Are these called cycles, trends or simply market manipulation? I can’t say that I hear of a lot of big money arm’s length transactions taking place out in the real world in relation to bonifide (???) auction sales these days, but with the over saturation and lure of car auctions all over the country it’s no wonder. There are as many as several on a weekend in the same general geographic location, in some cases 700-1000 cars at one auction. The publicity, the hype and all the TV shows has created another car buying frenzy. That’s good for us in the car business. In the past, I have covered some auctions for SCM and ACC, as well as some freelance reporting, PR, client relations, consigning, buying, selling and block reading, so I have had some firsthand experience at the shows. Let’s go back a few decades to 1988. Ferraris have always pricey and collectible, but a phenomenon occurred once Enzo retired to the great racing circuit in the sky. The sudden demand for his marque started an upward surge and then a trend ensued, soon other rare exotics started spiraling up in value. There were only a few major players in the auction world back then, Rick Cole, Barrett Jackson and Kruse. In the 80’s, Barrett Jackson held one annual extravagant event in the middle of the desert in trendy Scottsdale, Arizona, Rick Cole had the California coastal Monterey Peninsula covered and Kruse made their mark in a bean field in Auburn, Indiana. Going back five decades, generally the majority of the buyers 70’s and 80’s were car collectors. These are different times today, and the profile of the buyer has changed as well, there seems to be an influx of wheeler dealers and speculators. Since 2012 there has been a linear progression in auction activity. Obviously auction houses are in the business of selling cars, but they also need a continuous supply of cars. Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe these auctions a responsible to some degree for the inflated values in the car market? Have you noticed the amount of “Collector Car Investment Funds” that have popped up, or the new term “Investment Grade” collector car? Money managers and financiers have to perpetuate their existence; so how do they do that? With commodities, and everything is fair game…especially cars, preying on weak human traits, egos and passion. Well I can’t speak for other markets, but take a que from the banksters on Wall Street. In the last 100 years they have done a pretty good job of manipulating the markets, sucking people in and spewing out their leftover bankrupt bones. Mix in a little sharing of proprietary knowledge (insider trading), some bad math (cooking the books), and the spineless and coerced media (magazines, TV and radio), and you have a winning formula where you can dictate and control the markets. Even though throughout time, many of the Wall Street players were in fact car enthusiasts or at least status buyers, however today collector cars for the most part have become another useful asset. One indication that supports that is the turnover rate. Sometimes certain cars disappear in a warehouse for a few years and then resurface commanding ridiculously high values. Many high end cars are often displayed at notable Coucours d”Elegance events around the country, adding provenance and status to the car which ultimately increases the value and bragging rights (collectability?). For the most part, the rich and the super-rich have a different mindset, and since they make large sums of money in bulk, money apparently has no real value, it’s just a tool to make more money. (It’s no different than a car guy uses a spanner wrench to fix his car so that he can drive and enjoy it). For the guy with bucks, value is placed on the asset and the return on investment (ROI). Cars, real estate, art and precious metals are tangible assets…that has a certain appeal for the investor who likes to interact with their spoils. Sadly, their interests don’t go much beyond that, these guys treat cars like a commodity rather than a personal hobby like us genuine car guys which tends to skew the market. Often these guys team up with some auction house and Wallah!……you have an ensuing artificial market that goes up and down, sometimes parallel with the exchanges. Look!…its going on right now. The S&P is at an all-time high, and the high end of the collector car market is right in line with it. Look Ferrari GTO’s 35 + million, Ferrari California’s 18 million and 300SL roadsters pushing I million .5, unless its and alloy bodied car, then you are looking at 2.5 million. Aston Martins DB5’s are creeping over 700K, Lamborghini Miura SV’s close to 2 million and Shelby AC 427 Cobra’s are pushing deep past the 1.5 million mark. Just recently the very first Cobra, CSX 2000 hammered at over 12 million smackers, it at least went to a museum. So right now, unique exotic sports cars and rare production 50’s luxury cars are setting new trends. Only the rarest and limited production big motored Muscle cars are holding their own, but not quite setting records, just creeping close to where they were. Although Hemi “E” Body car prices are way softer and like Boss 429’s and 428 CJ Shelby’s are about 2/3rds of where they were, they are still expensive. Also, your basic COPO, T-A SD455, GTO’s, LS6’s, 442 W30’s and Wedge Motor Coke Bottle “B” Body Mopar’s still rock the house. Ok, so now you’ve been warned, where does that leave the average bub, well if he’s got a job and some cash he is in a good position because there are some good deals to be had. I have always said that the best deals are on the streets, you just have to look for them. The auctions can be good hunting grounds for picken’s, but you have to do your homework. CHECK and DOUBLE CHECK the car out before you raise your hand, but way before that, get there early and do your own research and if you are still uncertain or confused hire and expert (Like Me). This is my observation, I am speaking the truth here, and even though I am picking on them a bit, other notable collectors do the same…just off the record of course. I truly like auctions, they are exciting and fun, you will always find the rarest, most exquisite cars at the high end auctions like Gooding’s and Bonham’s. You also get a chance to meet some interesting people. Barrett, Mecum and Russo get the more mainstream cars as well as a few unusual exotics, foreign and domestic. Chances are if you are there at the right time and place, you may get that car you always wanted and a fair deal. Whatever is happening, trend, cycle or market manipulation, no one can predict the market so it is advisable to buy what you like and can comfortably afford, that way if the market does tank you at least have something you can stand looking at sitting in your driveway!