(C) Copyright 2012-13, VMR International, Inc. All rights reserved.
Collector car auctions have
come a long way from their roots in the 1960's. Back then they were
mostly local affairs, attended mostly by enthusiasts who loved cars for
what they were, not as a potential investment. With the
collector car hobby boom of the eighties, auctions popped up everywhere.
National advertising brought thousands to the big auctions, ready to feed
what appeared to be the public's insatiable appetite for old cars.
Then the bubble popped.
Events shrunk or folded, and
consolidation shored up weakened players. But underneath it all the
industry began to remake itself. By the beginning of the new Millenia,
interest was back and values were rising. A myriad of publications,
television coverage, and the internet all served as promotional vehicles for
those left standing. Professional marketing reared its head, too, with
terms like "lifestyle" and "branding" liberally applied to different
But at the end of the day,
it's not who delivers the best ad campaign, turns out the most attendance,
or puts on the flashiest show. What's really important is who delivers
the best auction experience for the people that matter: those buying
and/or consigning at auctions.
Our auction survey asked
visitors to collectorcarmarket.com who buy and sell at auctions to
rate their experiences with the different auction companies. After
indicating if they were a dealer or private party and declaring how may
auctions they attended each year, one simple, two-part general question was
asked: Which Auction Companies have you done business with, and how
would you rate your experience? Possible responses were "Excellent"
(4-points), "Satisfactory" (3-points), "Fair" (2-points), or "Poor"
(1-point). The ratings were totaled and then divided by the number of
responses for that particular auction company to arrive at an overall score.
A section was provided for general comments as well.
One thing that surprised us
about the results was how close all were in overall satisfaction, with the
lowest less than 18% below the highest. Another was how
polarized the responses were. Many auction houses received a similar
number of "excellent" and "poor" ratings, suggesting that personal
experience varies widely. Still, all received ratings that indicate
that in the vast majority of cases they are serving their customers well.
Remember, too, that respondents to surveys such as these are usually biased
on the negative side (people love to complain much more than heap praise)
bringing down the overall score of all. Expectations play a roll, too.
Silver's clientele don't expect all the frills -- just good, honest service
which Silver always delivers. For an auction such as Barrett-Jackson,
however, the intense promotion and marketing behind it sometimes may set
expectations too high, making for either jubilation or disappointment at
hammer time. Branson, Gooding & Company and Bonhams did not receive
enough responses to be considered statistically significant, so are not
included in the results.
Unvarnished, here are the