Warm Winter Wishes

As happens most Januaries as of late (yes, there is a plural form for months) I head to Arizona for a weekend to flee the cold and snow and soak in the sunshine (the car auction that I attend while I'm there is a big reason for going too).

This car auction generally offers around 120 rare, exotic, and/or historically significant cars each year at their event in Scottsdale. Among the lots this year were several Ferrari's from the Tony Shooshani collection, a lot of vintage Porsche that sold for less than usual, and some things from Jerry Seinfeld's garage that I may or may not have touched. So, as you can imagine the population at this shin-dig is mainly comprised of an unreasonable amount of people wearing salmon pants who seem to have more money than sense and then there's me. I'm just there for the fun of it (and austensible to do "market research" [happy to report that the market for Jags is still good but prices for Land Cruisers look a bit soft]). Usually there are one or two vintage Volkswagens that go for an eye-popping amount, but this year there wasn't.

At any rate, one thing I have noticed about the cars at this particular auction is that by-in-large these cars are "restored" and traded like commodities or pieces of art. They aren't really expected to do anything, just sit there and appreciate. I'm not really an expert in any sense regarding most of the types of cars they sell, but I do fell like I know my around a vintage VW or Porsche. And as prices for those cars has skyrocketed over the past few years I've noticed a troubling trend (not on the level of world hunger or anything, just at the level of a personal annoyance so get ready). Let's take an early Porsche 911, say like this one:
Due to the astronomical prices these things command it is now financially feasible to pay someone to restore this car to within an inch of its life. They will obsess about everything from the correct grain and texture of the fake leather on the seats to the proper finish and orientation of the screws that hold the grill trim in place. The paint will,.. be,.... immaculate! However, because the car is now worth anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000 (depending on what you have) it isn't expected to leave the garage. Consequently, they don't spend much time sorting out the worn bushings in the shift linkage. The seats, while clad in the correct material, will have sagging springs and worn foam. The carpet won't be installed quite right to the effect that if you were using the car you'd be annoyed at how it keeps lifting and getting bunched up under the pedals. In short, while the car looks amazing, everything that would make it truly enjoyable to drive after you've spent some $60,000 on a restoration hasn't really been tended to. Furthermore, German cars do not weather well in storage. To be kept running properly and reliably they need to be driven regularly. The only thing worse than a German car that hasn't been maintained is one that has done nothing but sit. So these beautiful cars (now portfolio diversification ventures) get bought up by the next owner wearing salmon pants and if they're lucky get started to drive on and off the transport truck and into another garage somewhere until it's time for them to change hands again. Meanwhile, I cannot afford to save one. I can't get behind that.

On a happier note, due to the horrific storm that was raging back in Nevada, rather than come home on Sunday I took a nap on a lounge chair in the 70 degree sunshine and proceeded to nap until Tuesday when the roads and skies were finally clear enough to make the trip. I did eventually have to come home to this though:
Still digging things out, but at least the sun is shining! Thanks winter......

1 comment:

Mi mundito said...

It is tragic that none of those cars will be under your care. Nice update. I can picture you touching the cars there much like the cars you touched in Germany, although I'm sure these cars did not have great little stickers that said "Do Not Stroke."