Coronavirus is on the news. The stock market seems to be falling more each day. Your local store is all out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
What does that all mean for the car market? If you were planning on making a classic car move in March or April, be it a buy, sell or hold, should your plans now change?
Well, I can’t predict the future, but we can learn a few things from looking at the past, at least in terms of challenging market situations and how the auction world has reacted.
Roll back to 2008. The housing boom crashed, and along with it came the car market — or more specifically, the market for American muscle. Values dropped quickly across the board, which thinned the market of really great consignments. Their owners simply buckled down for better days versus selling off for less than what they thought their cars were worth.
There is, however, one key difference here. The market in ’08 was a very different place than the market in ’20. Current buyers and sellers have already been trained to look for the best versus the rest, maybe as a result of the fallout of ’08, and prices have already adjusted accordingly. Generally speaking, I don’t think there have been many inflated prices recently for cars that didn’t deserve those premiums (except for maybe first-gen Ford Broncos). I don’t think I could have said the same thing in 2008, when anything with a Hemi was considered better than a 401(k).
The main takeaway from the ’08 crash, at least for me, was this: The best cars, with the best condition, history, paperwork and equipment, tend to do just fine, especially over time. Any virus-related global economic adjustments shouldn’t really change how you’re looking at the car market in 2020. Keep hunting for the best cars you can find and try to get them for the best price you can.
The wildcard here is the virus itself. Will it impact auction attendance, and therefore bring prices down due to less competition? I doubt it, as most auction houses these days allow for phone bidding, and car people can’t resist looking at cars, especially online. Those buyers looking for their next car (and a deal) will still be watching cars cross the block even if they’re not onsite. In fact, they’re probably going to be watching more closely.
So how about it? Should you buy now? Sure, if the car and the price is right. Sell? Only if you’re getting what you think the car is really worth — and I don’t mean what you THINK it’s worth, but what it’s really worth. Check recent ACCs for comps. Hold? Never a bad idea, especially if you still like owning the car in your garage.
The one thing you absolutely should do? Wash your hands.