What a difference a year makes in the classic car collecting world! Thanks to COVID-19 restrictions and fiscal impacts there are big changes in store for Arizona Auction Week 2021. The current outlook for this annual big week in the collector car world is way fewer cars for sale, less public attendance, and drastically less money changing hands. Will these changes affect classic car values in 2021?
Arizona Auction Week 2020
Each year the classic car auction houses descend upon the Scottsdale, Arizona region for Arizona Auction Week. Between January 10-19, 2020 eight car auction firms – MAG Auctions, Leake, Worldwide Auctioneers, RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Gooding and Company, Russo and Steele, and Barrett-Jackson held auctions. Collectively they offered 3,867 cars for auction with 2,994 of those vehicles hammered sold for, a total of nearly $250 million. Collectively, there were 25-days of bidding throughout the eight auction houses during this 10-day period.
Arizona Auction Week 2021
Just like a line of dominoes, the auction houses one by one have postponed, altered, or eliminated their plans to hold car auctions in Arizona in January 2021.
The biggest news and jolt came when the Barrett-Jackson Auction announced that they were postponing their plans to hold an auction in January. They now have plans to hold an auction in March 2021 instead. They held a fall 2020 event with limited attendance, but still sold more than 400 cars for over $23 million.
MAG Auctions also recently announced that they are postponing their return to Fort McDowell, AZ (northwest of Scottsdale) which was scheduled for a 3-day event from January 22-24, 2021.
Auctions Leaving Arizona
Gooding and Company will only hold an online event in 2021, called Geared Online. Bidding starts on Monday, January 18, and concludes on Friday, January 22, 2021. Last year, their 2-day sale in Arizona brought in over $35 million, with nearly 170 cars selling.
In 2020 Worldwide Auctioneers held a 1-day auction in Tempe, Arizona. For 2021 they have switched their auction location from Tempe to their Auburn, Indiana headquarters.
Modifying Arizona Auction Plans
RM Sotheby’s moved their auction from Phoenix’s tony Biltmore Hotel to the OTTO Car Club and will limit attendance to registered bidders for a one-day event on January 22, 2021. They anticipate auctioning off 80 cars during that day.
Instead of a 4-day auction event like in 2020, Russo and Steele will host an invitation-only, one-night event on January 23, 2021. Bonhams still plans on hosting their 10th annual event in Scottsdale for one night on January 21, 2021.
That leaves Leake Car Auction who has yet to finalize (or cancel) its plans for 2021. They had four days of auctions last year.
Arizona Auction Week 2021 Outlook
So for 2021, there are only three currently scheduled days of auctions. Quite a change from previous years. One benefit of all the auction houses holding their previous auctions in the same area in the same week was more buyers converged in one area with a fistful of dollars. Now there will be fewer cars, fewer auctions, and fewer buyers.
Classic car sellers rely on the auctioneers to promote their cars and have several buyers vying for the same cars. But with fewer buyers and interest, we can expect some car owners to withdraw their cars and wait for a better buying opportunity. The cars that will remain for auction will likely have reserves (a minimum price that the car must sell for) and whether the buyers bid above those reserved prices will remain to be seen.
Assuming that the three auctions remain in Arizona, I suspect there will be fewer sales made and at lower prices. So classic car prices will probably see a drop. Whether that signals the beginning of a decline or a momentary blip in the sale prices only time will tell.
If you do make it to one of these actions during Arizona Auction Week 2021 be sure to be prepared with our guide: 5 Easy Steps To Win At A Car Auction.