March Editor’s Note


The Scottsdale auction week in 2016 ran late this year. The sales frenzy in Western America that traditionally has ended in mid-January typically gave auctioneers time to rest their vocal cords and it allowed buyers and consignees time to regroup.

Not so this year.

This time lag has been necessary before subjecting the auction staffs and bidders to the time-zone move to Rétromobile in Paris in February. Instead, Arizona ended in February! Literally it did, on the 1st. And so, much of this cast of characters barely had time to rest their bodies on transatlantic flights.

We have talked about Arizona. The auction results do not justify a “run for the hills” attitude. Or one that dictates we batten down the hatches.

Everyone who watches this “hobby” that is a business, and this “business” that also is a hobby, has expected Phoenix 2016 since…what Monterey ’13?

Or Amelia ’12? And now we approach Amelia ’16.

On Friday, February 19, the International New York Times published a story by Scott Reyburn titled Tough Start to the Auction Year. In his lead sentence he used a word that has been on the lips and in the minds of observers for some time: “A ‘correction’ economists generally agree, is a decline of at least 10 percent in the value of a stock, commodity, bond, or market interest.” Reyburn goes on to quote significant decreases in total sales figures for contemporary art sales in the February auctions. He quotes Todd Levin, an art adviser in New York: “The market peaked in the first half of 2015 and the second half saw a softening,” Levin told him. “I expect that to continue in 2016.”

Buyers, Reyburn wrote, have been unnerved by financial turbulence in the wake of slowing growth in China. He noted “Sales of classic cars were down 14 percent, to $250.6 million, at the annual series of specialist auctions in Arizona… Auctions held during the [Paris] Rétromobile this week struggled with oversupply.” Still, automobiles in Scottsdale and Paris did much better than contemporary art in New York sales totals, which finished 40 to 50 percent below 2015 figures.

Events make opportunities. Market responses cast a spotlight on them. In this issue, we’ll point out some opportunities coming at Amelia Island in mid-March.

But also in this issue, you’ll read our steadfast contributor Richard Newton talking about the risks of “old gas.” That’s not a reason to consult a physician but it’s an answer to your questions about why your best treasure won’t start next month after a long winter’s hibernation.

Before you get to Richard, you’ll find Road Scholars co-founder Cam Ingram offering his perspectives on restoration. Why on earth do it? Or why not! His is an experienced view.

Writer/photographer Bruce Sweetman will introduce you to a 911 Carrera owner who has proven that you can drive your Porsche and you can show it and win. But it’s a long haul getting there.

Randy Leffingwell
Editor, Road Scholars Magazine

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