With the future of the internal combustion engine under threat, the global market for classics will be tested like never before in the California sales

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Richard Hudson-Evans

Richard Hudson-Evans

By end of play Sunday 20 August, 1300 mainly high value collector automobiles will have crossed six different auction house blocks in less than a week on the Monterey Peninsula in California and stakeholders on both sides of the Atlantic will be digesting the biggest reality check of the classic car year. But if combined total sales at Bonhams, Gooding, Museum, RM Sotheby’s, Russo & Steele and Worldwide don’t exceed $300m at least, then consumer confidence will have been dented even in the largest market of all, where insurers Hagerty have logged a fall in the number of classics sold in recent North American auctions.

For although the Paris Climate Change Treaty compliance requirements have been officially rejected by the Trump Administration and fossil fuelled internal combustion engines should therefore be able to carry on exhausting without international interference in the US, many of the latest stats indicate that the rest of the motoring world may be greening rapidly.

For the fourth consecutive month, new car registrations in the UK have fallen, by 9.3% in July alone, with an apocalyptic fall of 23.8% in business demand for new vehicles. Whereas, despite only accounting for 5.5% of the market, the demand for low-emission, alternatively fuelled vehicles surged by 64.9% last month. Strangely, only the specialist sports cars sector has enjoyed growth of 10.3% it seems, while new diesel car registrations declined by a record 20.1%.

By the end of July, five of the six Historic Automobile Group International indices that monitor pre-war to millennium collector car transactions were in negative territory year to date, led by the HAGI F with a 4.12% decline in achieved prices for Ferraris. Whereas although the HAGI P Porsche index has fallen by 2.64% this year so far, Porsche transacted prices actually rose by 4.39% last month and the HAGI MBCI charts a 6.05% hike in Mercedes prices in July.

The most recent 96% success rate at the SWVA Drive-Through in Dorset and the £5.5m spent on cars and automobilia in the Silverstone Auctions sales at the Silverstone Classic also indicate continued consumer confidence in the sector at all price levels.  For even though much of the motor industry will cave in to the pressure group influenced politicians by offering hybrids first followed by switching production to all-electric cars recharged by Chinese nuclear power stations, one of the facts of life on planet earth as we know it is that it is the internal combustion engine that will help power the majority of motor cars worldwide, and that includes nearly all our classics, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

 

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