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SPECIAL REPORT: 2024 The Year So Far

1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder Sold For $17,875,000 by Mecum Auctions
1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder Sold For $17,875,000 by Mecum Auctions

If you’re looking to buy a vehicle, you’ll love what you’re about to hear.

If you’re looking to sell, this might not be the prettiest of reads.

Either way, we’ve crunched the numbers on the first 6 months of the year and here are the 5 things you need to know.

Let’s start with a positive:

More vehicles than ever are coming to market

In the first 6 months of the year, we’ve seen 33% more cars come to market than in the same period last year. 

In fact, compared to 5 years ago the number of vehicles coming to auction is up 144%.

Note: the figures here are relating to all vehicles we see at auction, the numbers are very similar for classics as well.

So, the question follows: what’s driving that growth?

Three big themes.

Firstly, online auctions. Compared to 5 years ago, in the nascent days of online auctions, the number of vehicles being offered is up 521%.

Secondarily, the US. The US is driving the volume growth, with 44% more vehicles being offered there than the same period last year. Of course, there’s a natural tie in here with the first point given the dominance of Bring A Trailer. When looking at the UK only 3% more cars were offered and the EU actually saw the number of vehicles fall, down 11%.

Thirdly, lower value vehicles. We’re seeing a skyrocketing number of vehicles under £10,000 being offered, up 66% from the prior year.

These lower priced vehicles coming to market is great news for the market. They’re a gateway for younger individuals to access their first vehicle, or classic. It’s the equivalent of your first step on the property ladder. The more people we can get onto the ladder the better.

Although more vehicles are being offered they’re being sold at lower prices

Globally, prices are down 13% in the first 6 months of 2024 vs the same period in 2023. This is true across both classics and all vehicles.

Looking at the split by market, we can see the UK has seen the biggest falls, down 24% vs last year (down 18% for classics).

The US is down 15% (down 16% for classics). That’s the first time the US has seen prices fall in the first 6 months of the year since 2018!

The EU is bucking the trend and up 11% (up 9% for classics).

It’s worth pausing here, do you notice anything?

It’s classic demand and supply economics. 

Those markets where we’ve seen the supply of vehicles coming to market rise, have seen prices fall.

Equally, the EU which has seen supply contract has seen prices rise.

Many individuals get vastly complicated when it comes to the variables that impact the market, and don’t get me wrong there are plenty, but when you focus on those that are actually material it becomes far simpler.

And supply and demand economics comes up again and again as a key indicator of where prices will go. Supply increases, prices fall. Demand increases, prices rise.

Don’t get me wrong the correlation is not exact but let’s not make things too complicated to seem intelligent. 

Keep this in mind and you’ll have a good sense of what will happen.

Three quarters of models have seen prices fall this year

One question to ask when we see prices have risen / fallen is to understand is that just more or less expensive vehicles coming to market or has the actual value of a/multiple models risen/fallen?

When we look across the top 200 most popular models in our database, we can see some startling results.

Just over a quarter of those models have seen prices rise in the first 6 months of the year vs the same period in 2023.

In other words, 74% of the most popular models that we track have fallen in value.

Perhaps they’ve just fallen by a little bit? Nope.

The average price decline sits at 16%, very close to the 13% we’ve seen the market fall overall.

This tells us that the value of vehicles is falling rather than simply that there are less expensive cars being offered at auction.

An even worse story is presented when you analyse the 50 most popular marques.

45 of the 50 have seen prices fall.

Lamborghini is the only marque to have delivered double digit price growth vs 2023, up 19%.

The modern stuff is really struggling and is there hope for pre-war?

When comparing prices by decade in the first 6 months of 2024 vs the same period last year, the biggest falls have been seen in those vehicles produced in the 2010s. 

They’re down 25% since last year, thanks in no small part to the persistently high interest rates that underpin the purchase of so many ‘newer’ vehicles at present.

Rather surprisingly, when looking at pre-war cars from the 20s and 30s they’re still in negative territory with prices down 12% and 10% respectively. However, that’s a better performance than the majority of decades.

What’s our take on what’s going on here?

Well, it’s been well documented the price falls we’ve seen in the pre-war market, when looking over a 5 year period they’ve seen the biggest price declines of all the decades. 

However, this could be the start of a stabilisation. 

The idea that these cars would continue declining and declining in price never quite made sense. 

At some point any rational enthusiast looks at the prices of pre-war cars and go, they’re not 100% my bag but when I’m paying so little for a piece of motoring history it makes sense to acquire one at such a cheap value.

In other words, we don’t anticipate the fall to be a race to the bottom, rather it’s a race to stabilise. This may well be the start of pre-war cars stabilising at a price that entices a new group of enthusiasts in.

Right, final point.

That fat lady isn’t singing yet

Wind the clock back to the same point last year, we wrote a mid-year review.

6 months into 2023 prices were up 22% vs 2022.

Wind through to the end the market finished the year up only 0.3% on the previous year.

Point being that a lot can change in the back half of the year. The story as we find it today isn’t necessarily how the final chapter will end come December 31st.

Whatever happens, you can be sure we'll be there to write about it.

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