How is the collector industry adapting to so many shutdowns?
Collector and classic car auctions have been around since the early 1970s, when notable Kruse International held its first collector car auction in Auburn, IN. The Kruse classic car auction quickly grew and became a destination event for car guys each Labor Day.
Although Kruse International was plagued with economic disruptions and legal debacles, it enjoyed some successes, including being purchased by eBay in 1999 for stock valued at $130 million.
Thomas Barrett, a car collector from Phoenix, AZ, was inspired by the success of Kruse International in the early '70s and decided to hold his own auction to cull his personal collection. Later, Barrett partnered with a friend, Russell Jackson, to form what is now arguably the most well-known collector car auction on the planet, Barrett-Jackson.
Over the past five decades, many others have joined the auction industry, focused on a hobby and relentless passion for the automobile.
As the use of technology has become more prevalent and purchasing items online has become the norm, the collector car market has also transitioned to an online model.
Most physical car auctions include the ability to bid and purchase by phone or through a myriad of platforms, such as Auction Mobility and Proxibid. Many of the collector car classified sites also include auction platforms as demonstrated by Hemmings and Motorious.
The collector car market is very different from the retail daily driver market, in that most people are looking for a unique vehicle that is typically not found within driving distance of their home.
According to Speed Digital, a technology provider for collector car dealers, approximately 80% of collector vehicles are sold online with the first "tire kicking" the moment the vehicle is unloaded from the transporter.
The past decade has seen the rise of a once obscure company, Bring-a-Trailer (BaT), that originated as a grassroots community discussing cars. BaT is now the preeminent online destination for purchasing collector cars and boasts a bid of $3.125 million for a 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari (did not meet reserve.)