Classic Car Week just wrapped up in Monterey, CA, and though sales are down a touch from last year—a fact that can be largely attributed to 2014’s record-breaking $38 million sale of a ’62 Ferrari 250 GTO—things are only looking up for the classic car community. And, in a move that mimics trends in retail auto sales, more and more classic car buyers are going online to find the perfect set of wheels at a price that makes them purr.
Just a decade ago, classic car week would yield under $80 million a year, in a good year. In just ten years, that sales volume has increased roughly six-fold to a record high of $402.6 million in 2014. This year’s highly respectable $390 million in sales does nothing to diminish the long-term trend.
It’s no coincidence that internet access and web-based tools were proliferating exponentially during this same period. In fact, the $390 million “total” of this year’s sales at Classic Car Week doesn’t include sales made through the primary auction’s mobile platform—a newer addition to the purchasing options buyers have, whether they attend Classic Car Week in person or are sitting in their pajamas on the other side of the globe.
The internet has made it such that anyone can find the car they’re looking for, from vintage to modern day retail, without once stepping outside their door. That this has translated to more active trading in vintage cars is no surprise,and while its impact in retail sales is not quite as clear-cut, there are still many similarities that make a comparison worthwhile.
Ease of purchase—allowing people around the world to pay for vehicles in a live auction—is a relatively minor cause of the increase in sales Classic Car Week has achieved. More important is the increased flow and availability of information car buyers can access. Facts, figures, pictures, and videos enable consumers to fall in love with cars virtually sight unseen (or rather, only virtually seen).
This works for retail sales just as well as it does for classic car sales. Let car shoppers explore every detail of their potential next car or truck from the comfort of their own living room, giving them an online portal to the vehicles they already find appealing, and they’re a lot more likely to talk themselves into the sale.
They’re also a lot more likely to buy from the place that piqued their interest and satisfied their curiosity.
What the past decade of Classic Car Weeks has proved is that innovation has a place in even the most tradition-centered markets. When muscle car aficionados are willing to buy a car from their smartphone, you know the average consumer is ten times more willing to do the same.
Are you giving your customers the information they need?