Historically, Q1 of every year is used a signpost for the health of the collector car market. 3 of the year’s 4 biggest live auction events happen in Q1: Scottsdale, Kissimmee, and Amelia Island. How the market performs at these 3 events tells us a lot about the state of the market – and 2022 is no exception.
Q1’2022 is reflecting the high sale prices that we’ve come to expect over the past 12 months. But the big question is: are they here to stay, or are we at the peak? To start, let’s look at Q1 over the past 5 years:
For official results, please check each auction website.
Evaluating market trends
It's no surprise to anyone that Q1'2022 blew every one of the past 5 years out of the water. Even compared to 2021, the number of sold listings in 2022 grew 50%, while the total dollar sales showed a whopping 100% growth – with one sale by Gooding reaching over $13M by itself. Significant and special cars are still getting the high returns we've become used to over the past 2 years, but not every car is blasting through its reserve like we saw last year – and the sell-through rate is beginning to show this trend.
Sell-through rates in Q1, over the past 5 years
To be clear, the data is NOT showing that the market is slowing down. If anything, the market is bigger than ever as evidenced by Dollar Volume and number of Listings Sold. However, the numbers do suggest that sellers are beginning to have an unrealistic expectation of value, and are setting reserves too high. As sales begin to falter, we should start seeing average prices begin to settle, and even decrease in some markets.
That being said, it should be noted that given the explosion in online auctions, inevitably Sell-through Rate will get pushed lower. Online auctions tend to have a lower cost of participation (for sellers) and therefore setting a higher reserve is less risky for them. On the flip side, the higher cost of participation (including logistics) with live auctions may cause some sellers to be more willing to set a lower reserve, or negotiate a sale after the fact. For the higher tier of cars out there, that risk is compensated with potentially higher sale prices at live auctions.
Sell-through rates over the last 12 months
The next major live auction event isn't until August in Monterey, California. In the meantime, stay tuned as we continue to track both live and online auctions, and follow your favorite markets to stay up to date!
Q1 Over the Years
For all our fellow data geeks out there, here's a deeper look at Q1 data points over the years, broken down by key auction events and auction types.