Is the classic car market really cooling?

Something happened in the classic car market towards the end of 2015 and into the start of this year. For the previous 18 months classic car prices had rocketed, with high sales rates achieved at auction, dealers placing cars in showrooms with eye watering prices and media story after media story of another world record price.

But then things started to change. Some cars weren’t selling, dealers were struggling to sell stock and quality classics became increasingly difficult to find. Was this the sign of another late 80s style crash?

Well apparently not. Post Brexit, the summer trade has been seemingly strong and there is an air of reserved confidence in the marketplace. The results from the most recent classic car auctions this September, including RM Sotheby’s London Sale, Bonham’s Goodwood Revival Sale and Silverstone Auctions’ Salon Privé Sale, which once again we were delighted to be a part of providing PR and social media support, prove that the best cars are continuing to appeal. Some amazing headline prices were achieved at each sale, generating mainstream media coverage and buzz around classic cars, which can only be a good thing for everyone involved in the industry.

The latest HAGI Index has recorded that overall this year, transacted prices of the high valued classics has risen by 3.71% per cent.

But there clearly has been a cooling, especially at the top end of the market. All these auctions achieved around a 70 per cent sales rate, good but not quite what we became used to. Buyers have become far pickier, which from our point of view is why it’s so important to properly publicise and market the best cars for sale, whether you’re a classic car dealer or auction house.

Not only this, it’s important for the classic car industry to think outside the box. It’s a highly competitive arena at the moment and those that embrace a host of PR and marketing tools should see the rewards.

And UK sellers shouldn’t be thinking just locally. Post-referendum we have seen that the immediate effect is that it is cheaper for European and US buyers to purchase cars from the UK so that’s a positive. But to really utilise this opportunity it once again takes a properly planned PR strategy.

It’s not only the top end however that can provide excitement and headlines. The sub-£100,000 bracket continues to perform well with modern-classics seeing the largest area of growth. People have few other investment options at this time and if you are an enthusiast who has some cash in the bank, why not indulge in your dream classic?

We’ve seen some of our biggest headlines and discussion with cars with far smaller price figures, and again the marketing strategies should reflect different, perhaps younger audiences who are increasingly buying classic cars.

The classic car game can be fickle. But for those that keep on top of the game and communicate with customers the best should come out on top.

If you’re a classic car business and looking to upgrade your PR and marketing activities why not get in touch with Red Marlin to see what we could do for you.

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