The famous Barrett-Jackson collector-car auctions first appeared on TV almost 20 years ago. Few who have watched the proceedings even for a few minutes (things can be a little slow for TV, even if you’re a classic car fan!) haven’t thought of what it would be like to own one of the beautiful classic cars that constantly stream across the auction block.
But, with final selling prices that are regularly in the six digits, and sometimes well over a million dollars, the idea of actually owning a collector classic can be just a dream.
First, Barrett-Jackson isn’t the only collector car auction game around. In fact, there’s a healthy auction market right here in Southern Ontario. One of the world’s largest collector car auction companies, RM Sotheby’s, is headquartered in Blenheim, Ontario.
LOCAL COLLECTOR CAR AUCTIONS
You can also attend a collector car auction in person right here in Toronto. Collector Car Productions (CCP) conduct auctions in the spring and fall at the International Centre. While they’re not quite on the same scale as the Barrett-Jackson televised events, they are very similar and they’re a great way for you to get up close to some very collectible cars.
If there is one indication of the popularity – and maybe even the profitability – of classic-car auctions, it’s in the price increases that happened in recent years. CCP publishes the selling results of each of its auctions online. In the two auctions held in 2004, the only vehicle that sold for over $100,000 was a custom-built Peterbilt Motorhome Car Hauler – in other words, a tractor trailer. (Side Note – the specs on the Peterbilt are interesting. It’s powered by an 800hp turbo-diesel that’s managed through a 15-speed transmission.)
Fast forward to the two most recent auctions, and 19 cars (and not one transport truck) sold for over $100,000 (and one sweet 57 Chevy convertible came in at $99,000).
But, while knowing that you can visit a Barrett-Jackson-like auction right here in T.O., six-digit prices don’t make it much easier to actually own one of the beauties.
HOW TO GET YOUR VERY OWN RESTORED COLLECTOR CAR
First, many of the vehicles you see on Barrett-Jackson or at the local Toronto auctions, are still owned by the person who originally bought them. In other words, the owner didn’t go out and buy an already restored car, but simply kept and maintained a car that became collectible.
Still, that doesn’t really help you. Chances are the car you drive isn’t considered a ‘collector’ just yet, and you probably don’t have a classic 1963 Jaguar E-Type hiding in your hedge.
But there is a potentially less expensive way to get into the world of collector cars than by mortgaging the house on a fully-restored gem.
Find a ‘gem’ that hasn’t been restored. That ’57 Chevy wouldn’t have gotten anything near $100,000 if it had not been through a professional restoration. Although, because ’57 Chevys are iconic among cars of the 1950s, any of them, in almost any condition, would command a premium price.
But you don’t even need to find and restore a recognized classic. There are a number of vehicles around that you can buy for relatively sane prices and start the restoration process yourself. If you check out the results of the most recent auction here in Toronto, you’ll spot some diamonds in the rough for relatively affordable prices.
Yes, these cars will have a few issues, like any used car, but they also have the potential, with the right restoration, to command much higher prices on the auction block.
- $4,510 – 1991 Mercedes Benz SL500 Convertible
- $5,170 – 1989 Jaguar XJS Coupe
- $6,325 – 1962 Chrysler Newport Convertible
- $6,325 – 1989 Corvette
- $6,600 – 1969 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
If you make the leap into collector car ownership, Leon’s can help it look like new again with restoration services ranging from complete, body-off restorations to simpler cosmetic upgrades and paint refinishing.