2023 Half-Time Report

Welcome to the 2023 Half-Time Report.

It’s officially half-time of 2023, and while the word “recession” is still lingering in our minds, the word “stability” is the name of the game in the classic and exotic car market. In this special edition of our newsletter, we break down the market data for all of January to June 2023. So buckle up, and let’s kick it into gear.

For a list of auctions included, reference our Data Sources. For definition of metrics used, reference our Glossary of Terms.

Looking at the January to June 2023 figures and comparing them to the same period in 2022, we see that Dollar Volumes have decreased slightly (down 1.5%), while Sold Listings have increased (up 5.1%). This suggests a stable market that's displaying a slight downward trend in price.

Furthermore, Total Listings have increased (up 10.1%), while both the Sell-through rate and Average Price have declined (down 6.2% and 6.3%, respectively). More cars were listed for auction than ever before, yet a smaller percentage were sold, and those that were sold fetched lower average prices. This indicates a minor slowdown in the overall market activity, but we do not see a cause for concern currently.

Stability is the name of the game

Reflecting on the second half of 2022, this is when we noticed the first signs of the industry beginning to cool down. Sell-through rates and average prices were coming down consistently every month with respect to 2021, signaling growth had finally peaked and a decrease in overall market activity was to follow.

However, we never saw a significant drop in volume or prices, it appears as if rather than a peak, the market appears to have plateaued, with all key metrics reflecting less than 10% change. This is indeed positive news, but it’s worth examining the performance for each type of venue, including online and live auctions.

The January to June Total Listings chart shows that both demand and supply are strong for online and live auctions, with more cars being listed and sold overall. However, only the major events – Scottsdale, Kissimmee, and Amelia Island – have managed to increase in dollar volume. This indicates that while the number of transactions have risen, the average transaction value has fallen, although again, not in a major way.

While there probably are a myriad of explanations for this changing trend, we see it as the result of a combination of different factors: less quality cars are being offered, higher interest rates, less overall liquidity, but most importantly: higher expectations amongst buyers.

Sell-through is dropping… especially online

During the Pandemic, Online auctions became THE place to sell a car. You could upload mediocre cell phone photos and list your average car, and sell it for a nice profit. Those days are over.

With sell-through rates dropping across most online venues, sellers are resetting pricing expectations while the venues themselves are becoming more stringent about reserve prices and presentation. On top of that, we expect the online auction market to consolidate around 3 or 4 main players (at most) which in turn tightens up sell-through rates further.  

Bottom line, when it comes to sell-through rate, marquee live events continued to outperform online auctions and smaller live events. This means that vehicles at these events are more likely to sell (and usually at a better price) at these large events, thanks to factors like the event organization, their ability to target specific audiences, and a host of other perks unique to these events – albeit, at a much higher cost to sellers.

Live auctions ruled the top-end of the Market

Despite the continued expansion of online auction platforms and the tectonic shifts they’ve brought to the market, live auctions remain strong - particularly for high-profile vehicles. All of the Top 10 Sales during these last six months are from live auctions, with a whopping 7 out of 10 of these sales credited to RM Sotheby's. Interestingly, a significant portion – 6 out of the 10 – are from sales that took place at the most significant European live auction events of the year, thus far. That means only 4 came from Amelia or Scottsdale - two of the most prominent events for high-end vehicles stateside.

Regardless of the relatively small volume of cars listed through traditional live auction events, their average lot sale price remains much higher. Amelia Island and Scottsdale drive the point, with an average sold price of $461K and $122K, respectively; compare this with an average of $45K across online auctions.

High-volume live events remain industry heavy hitters as well, with Kissimmee and Scottsdale alone contributing more than 10% each to 2023’s total Dollar Volume so far.

The Top Markets

Every 6 months, we release our Top 100 Markets list of the best performing markets in the classic and exotic car industry during the last 12 months. Below are the Top 3 Performing Markets for the time period of June 2022 - June 2023.

Top 10 Flips & Flops Jan-June 2023

A "Flip" or "Flop" is defined as a car for which we have a previous sale record, so we can determine the net gain/loss and time since the previous sale. Obviously, it's possible that cars have changed hands in private sales between these public listings, but it still provides great insight into the market to see which cars sold for substantial gains or losses over their previous sales.



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Market Busters Jan-June 2023

While the overall market is stable, the listings below broke records to become the Top Sale in their individual Markets so far this year.

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