Blog & Talk


Theory of relativity

“The old-timer market is stagnating” – seems to be the recurring résumé of the classic market in 2017. It sounds like a scene from the stock market: emotional moments can influence prices more than rational ones – or not. Let's take a look at one of the last classic auctions this year: the “New York Icons” of December 6th, which shows little sense of stagnation. Highlight of the auction was a Ferrari 250 GT LWB California: an undoubtedly interesting, but not one of the truly outstanding specimens in the palette of Maranello gems. The estimate was called with $ 8 million and the contract took place at a stately $ 18 million. 5.3 million dollars were paid for a Jaguar C-Type. One especially hears and marvels upon learning of the sale of a Lancia Delta HF Integrale, built in 1992: the hammer fell at 190,400 dollars! These are proud prices that do not necessarily indicate a general stagnation.

However, the Ferrari 250 GTO, which was auctioned in 2014 for $ 38 million in the US, still holds the price record on the classic market. Meanwhile, it is reportedly offered for sale for $ 50 million dollards, which does not seem utopian at all.

But what is all this compared to the art market and the currently most expensive painting in the world by Leonardo da Vinci, which was recently auctioned for 450 million dollars, or just under half a billion, to an unknown bidder. If the painting was actually painted by da Vinci himself or by one or more of his students is disputed among art experts. Presumably, there will never be an exact answer to that question. And yet, there are prognoses that predict a further increase in the value of the image, which is referred to as the “male Mona Lisa.”

The most expensive car in the world, therefore, has only a value of around 8% of the world's most valuable painting. These are peanuts, as a former chairman of the Deutsche Bank used to say. However, there is another serious difference between the classic car and the art market, which speaks for the classic car market. At least since the turn of the millennium, there is no “replenishment” of future classic automobiles because the lifespan of modern vehicle electronics has a clear expiration date and can then no longer be repaired or restored. Even precautionary embedded electronic components will then also be useless. You can only put today's cars as lifeless covers in the museum.

The stock of classic vehicles is thus definitely limited in its volume – the end of the flagpole! This does not count for the worldwide inventory of artworks. And the inventory continues to increase because as long as there are people in this world, works of art in various genres will be created or produced and sold. And as automation and autonomous driving continue, the desire for automobiles that have to be driven in a “right” manner – that is, with their hands and feet and a great deal of emotional enthusiasm – will increase to the same extent.

The slogan of bygone days “driving in its most beautiful form” will continue to gain in actual relevance.

So, let us look forward to the new Oldi season, which starts with the phase of anticipation, when the days are getting longer again. In a few weeks, the first spring fashion will be on display in the shop windows of the retail trade.

We wish all customers and friends of our house a successful new year with the best health.

Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors 

December 22, 2012
Claus-Henning Guthard