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Have televised auctions "ruined" the car hobby?

Each and every year as the Scottsdale auctions come and go there are always a bunch of cars that sell for big money. This year was no exception and there were certainly some "sticker shock" numbers put on cars that blow everyone away. A lot of the auction scene , especially at the upper end, is a wealthy man's game and for the majority of the world it just doesn't make any sense. Regardless, we are all car people and all enjoy watching the sales and the constant stream of cool rides that flow across the block . Its good entertainment, it is fun to play along and guess what each car will sell for, and more than anything it is a blast to imagine ourselves in the position to be able to have these cars in our own garages and to dream of pulling up at the local cruise night or blasting down the highway in the cars that attract us most.

This year I saw a few shockers that stood out to me as real "wows". The Chevy truck above is one that made me rub my eyes. $125k hammer price for a 69 Chevy truck? What the heck? It sure looks clean, and is in great colors, 4 wheel drive, etc, but not restored to stock, the fender wells appear to have been cut for bigger tires. Its not a particularly rare vehicle and there is no great story behind it that would warrant a bigger number, but two bidders battled hard at the end and the end number of $125k (plus the buyers fees on top of that) put the truck into a class of its own. I must admit, personally, I don't get it at all, but there it is. Big money. Whenever these big sales happen the internet gets filled with haters and whiners and the endless cry that the auctions are "ruining the hobby" for the rest of us. I can certainly see the motivation for such a statement, but I deeply feel that these big sales and the rise in value of collector cars of any make or model, are a very positive thing for the car hobby. Maybe my opinion goes against the grain, but let me explain my reasoning and feel free to debate me on it if you like. Firstly, for the seller of the truck above, this was an absolute positive. I don't know how much he invested in the build or what he really expected to get out of it, but it would be a safe bet that he walked away from the auction block with a big fat grin on his face. He pulled the auction "slot machine" handle and got a jackpot. Hell yeah brother! Way to go! I hope that money helps you achieve some dreams, feed the kids, fund another build, whatever. Secondly, when a big sale happens like this there is undoubtably an effect on down the line for similar makes and models. That means that not only did the original seller get paid, everyone out there that has a truck like it just got a little rise in value. While this doesn't mean that every 69 Chevy 4X4 is worth six figures, it does trickle down the whole mountain and into the fields and barns where the poorest examples sit awaiting their fate. Thirdly, when the values rise on a certain segment of the car scene, it fires up enthusiasm to find and restore more of them. When the potential end value is high, it helps justify a restoration. More and more old Chevy trucks will be saved from rotting into the earth. These restorations as a result not only have the ability to make the restorer a few dollars at the end, it also feeds everybody along the food chain on the way up. From the farmer clearing his barn, to the tow driver that hauls it, to the suppliers of parts and materials and all their employees and of course feeding the craftsmen that are doing the work. Everybody gets paid.

Now I think a lot of the hate and whining out there on this subject is fueled by folks that are put into the position of not being able to afford their "dream car". There is a certain sadness to this of course, I have always wanted to have an early VW microbus with all the windows to call my very own, but now with top level examples being well into the six figure mark, I just don't see that happening. Ive got a mortgage to pay, kids to feed and the mad money stash in my pillowcase is not going to cover a $200,000 play toy. Does this make me angry? No. I think it is selfish and foolish to cry about the things that I cant have. Id love to have a mansion and a private jet too, but thats not going down, so why scream and whine to the world about it? Just because some folks can have these things doesn't mean that it "ruins life" for everyone else. For those that continue to complain that it prices them out of the car hobby all together, I call bullshit as well. Yes, I cant find a 23 window microbus on Craigslist for $3000, but I can find literally hundreds of cars that do fit that price range that are a hell of a lot of fun. Not long ago I picked up an early 90's Corvette for three grand that I had an absolute blast with. T tops out and wind in my hair, I could feel my chest hair growing as I mashed the gas pedal to the floor. No, it wasn't the vintage Aston Martin of my dreams or the Lamborghini Countach from my childhood bedroom wall, but it was mine and I loved it and enjoyed the ride. So...if you are going to be one of those folks that whine and moan that you cant afford what you want, fine...that is your right, but the view is selfish and yours alone. Snap out of it and look at the bigger picture. Increased values in collector cars is a good thing for the world. It feeds the scene in excitement as well as monetarily for everyone in the industry, and it saves more vintage cars from the scrap heap. This is all a very good thing. Instead of crying about what you cant have, look for what you can have, and if you pay close attention to the scene out there, I bet there is something out there that you can afford right now that will be worth a whole lot more in the years to come.

The car market is constantly moving and changing and trends come and go like the tide. In some cases the rise in values hang around for a while, in other cases they are the fashion of the day and a few years down the road the values crash on the beach. Some of this has some logic to it looking at the age of the vehicles and those that dig them. The generation that was heavy into the 20's and 30's cars in the 70's and 80's are fading away, while those that grew up in the 80's are now chasing cars of their era. Everything has its time in the sun and its rise and fall, this is life. If you want to ride the wave up, you need to find the cars that are cheap now, but will be the 69 Chevy 4x4 of tomorrow. Maybe the 1989 version of the same truck is in your budget now. The point of the whole car scene is to enjoy the ride. Instead of complaining about the cars you cant afford, spend your time enjoying and celebrating the cars that you can. There is and always will be, cool cars for every budget.

Happy Motoring! Randy Carlson

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