Youngtimer! This is the magic word at the moment, the word that defines cars as “not used but not yet vintage”, a kind of collectible limbo that still manages to fill new impulses with irresistible memories.
And the word is followed by a specific fact: cars produced between 1980 and 2000 are in great demand right now as our charts confirm.
We took Scottsdale’s auctions as an example, comparing 2010 to 2021. We chose 2010 because 2011 was an irrelevant year due to the sale of the entire Benny Caiola collection. The first thing we noticed was the difference in the percentage of Youngtimers on sale: Over the past 11 years, this number has risen from 4.98% to 14.45%, essentially tripling in volume.
But it’s when we take a closer look at overall turnover that the biggest jump awaits us: in 2010, total turnover did not break the million-dollar threshold ($821,150) while this year, that number was $4,226,000 and, if we consider that total sales were lower this year than 11 years ago because of Covid-19, we see that this number has risen from a paltry 1.58% to a substantial 8.15%. Market share that was partly “stolen” from the pre-war period, which fell from 38.5% to 21.3% over the same time frame.
To start making assumptions about this phenomenon – we will also be closely watching the forthcoming European auctions – I have chosen four examples of how this segment interests the (young) millionaires from Silicon Valley.
RM Sotheby’s were strong proponents of the Homolgation Special, a collection of Youngtimers we might even go so far as to call iconic. All of them went very well, beyond the rosiest of expectations: from the BMW M3 Sport Evolution (sold for $212,800 against an estimate of $125-150,000) to the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo 2 (from an estimate of $175-225,000 to a final price of $268,800) and a Lancia Delta Integrale Blu Lagos ($21.600 over the maximum estimate of $110,000).
By way of example, I have chosen the 2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello. In the typical red livery with beige leather interior, this example had covered just 4,406 miles since new, a particular that more than justified the estimate of $150-200,000. But, after a short but intense flurry of bids and counter bids, the hammer fell at $257,600 all inclusive. By way of comparison, this figure was higher than a 512 BB (sold a few lots before at $230,000) and about half that of a 330 GTC ($517,000), a car that one polish before was listed at 5-6 times the price of the Maranello.
Another bidding war broke out in the Arizona desert, this time for a vehicle that is the exact opposite of the 550. Offers quite literally flew in for one of the 500 examples of a 1993 Land Rover Defender 110 NAS (North American Specification) equipped with Range Rover’s 3.9 V8 engine producing 182 bhp. Not even its (sole) owner expected the “Landie” with more than 80,000 miles on the clock to exceed its estimate of $60-80,000 but it sold for more than double: $123,200.
Not even collectors in Gooding’s “virtual room” spared the Youngtimers – a pristine 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL in white with tobacco interior and “mirrored” rims that scream 80s Malibu, a car that is neither rare nor highly-coveted, changed hands for $75,900 against an estimate of $40-60,000.
Naturally, there were some pretty good deals to be had too: one of the best from this edition was a Youngtimer that offered excellent value for money and is still highly underestimated. The 1990 Jaguar XJ-S 5.3 V12 Convertible on sale at Bonhams was white with a blue interior (an elegant pairing in my opinion), came with relatively low mileage (45,607 miles), excellent originality and overall condition. This XJ-S was offered for an estimate of $20-25,000 but the new owner paid just $14,000 for her. Talk about waiting for your prey to show up!