Jim’s Blog: Spinning the Great Cancellation

Auctions, shows, events, museums. Seems like everything is cancelled, postponed or closed. It’s for the best, but that doesn’t change the shocking nature of it all. 

However, while the stock market seems to be getting worse by the day, I don’t think value sentiment has changed much in the collector car world from where it was at the beginning of the month. The auctions aren’t happening the way they used to, but the ones that recently wrapped still reflected pre-COVID pricing. Further, I don’t hear a massive cry of pain from owners who are scrambling to dump a car over fears of dropping values, and I don’t think that’s just because I’m working from home.  

Like I mentioned last week, the crash of 2008 taught us a lot, and one of those things was that even on the worst day of the year on Wall Street, a really great collector car is still a really great collector car. 

But this time away from work, events, and auctions is an adjustment. Everything you were planning on doing with your car is likely cancelled for the foreseeable future. So what to do now?

If you bought your car for the right reasons, this time off is less about worry or disappointment and more about working on that car, even if it’s just cleaning and polishing. If you’re finding that kind of stuff isn’t appealing to you, maybe that’s a good sign that it’ll be time to think about selling once the market fires back up. There’s nothing like a little forced reflection time to really figure out why you own what you own.

Last Sunday, I brought the ACC Mustang to my home shop so I could build the Wrenching article for the next issue of ACC. Both of my daughters are home from school with me now, and both of them keep asking to go for rides. So over the next few days, we’ll be working on the Mustang — all of us — and taking it for neighborhood cruises on our quiet sunny afternoons together. Why not have some fun in the midst of all this?

How are you spending your time? Are you worried about the market? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

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  1. I’m a university professor/car guy and former auto dealership owner. I own some “old” cars, but I do not consider myself an investor and expect no return other than what I get from being involved in the hobby and meeting other enthusiasts. I was at a show in Flint many years ago and asked a gentleman why he chose the car owned and displayed. He said it was identical to the one he and his then future wife drove when they were dating and when they go somewhere in it, it’s like a time machine for them.
    All of us in the hobby own little time machines that serve as physical reminders of a time that was important in some important way.

    1. Absolutely. And as my kids have reminded me this week, that special time is right now, and the car is whatever’s in your garage.

      My two-year-old doesn’t know what a virus is. All she knows is she’s spending a lot of time with Dad right now, and we’re driving around in this old Mustang with no traffic to slow us down.

  2. Jim, I am in AZ right now and had hope to attend some shows to start my 2020 show circuit off right. I recently brought a 61 Invicta and have another LS pwr 61 LeSabre that will need to be sold this season. These cars are not the most popular nor the ones folks think about when they are buying an investment, but boy do they bring in the crowds. I have been worried that I might get in trouble, because every time I stop I gather a crowd of onlookers and normally over 10.
    The most important thing we can do is not to panic. We will be talking about how this event changed the world and well maybe reminded us of what is important to us and to cherish that. So, I will keep up getting my cars ready and prepare to enjoy the upcoming shows or even just long drives in my Banker’s Hot Rod.

  3. I’m installing a new front suspension on Miss Hot Stuff, my 1972 455 Pontiac GTO. I do something every spring to the car and my resto on the installment plan is nearing the end of the road!

  4. As a 30 year CLASS Motorcycle instructor, I had met many bike collectors leading up to 2006 when the last “Armageddon” began. Returning to retail because of my own pressures, I began consigning collectible bikes out of necessity. What I immediately found was that there was a strong market for interesting bikes and cars, it was an adjusted world. Everyone was aware of that there was a new reality, sellers accepted their world had changed. We became successful selling for “market value” for those in need and to alert buyers. Our role was to ferret market values as best we could for the day, get the job done and absorb the whirlwind of the process for sellers.

    Today we are seeing the same scenario, the “deer in the head lights” look from owners and astute buyers. Again, our role is to protect the seller as best as possible and deliver to buyers no excuses. The market is not dying, it is adjusting. People’s passion for what they love has not changed but it is tempered with caution and clarity. If you love what you have and are in it for the long term, rest easy.

    This too will pass as the new normal waits ahead.