By BARTON WORKMAN
AutoEquityMarket.com asked for a market trend article to launch the site as if I have any genuine insight for predicting trends in the collectible automobile market.
Then, shazam!, it occurred to me that requests from collectors and brokers searching for cars that have appeared across my screen lately seem to have a common thread, anniversaries.
I'm not talking anniversaries like the 25th Anniversary Lamborghini Countach celebrating a company milestone or anything like that, too obvious. Rather, cars which have actually reached a significant age, most notably 50th Anniversaries, seem to be the fashion with collectors this year and likely for the next several years as trends go.
It's not rocket science to see where the next bubble will be created in the collectible automobile world with so many significant road and racing cars to choose from turning 50 in the next few years.
There is perhaps no place better to start than 1961 and the iconic Jaguar XKE Series I 3.8 Roadster which has not only re-emerged as perhaps one of the most important automotive designs in history but gauging by the trends lately, has caught the attention of collectors as values have steadily increased through the past year.
On its introduction in 1961 at the Geneva Auto Show, Malcolm Sayer's creation, the E-Type as it would become known in the U.S., was an instant sensation as the working man's supercar with its groundbreaking elegant design, 149MPH top speed performance and priced far less than its main competitors, such as Ferrari, at just under £3,000.
Riding the wave of significant sports car racing victories Jaguar enjoyed in the 1950s with the hugely successful C-Type and D-Type examples, Sayer's refined styling cues put into the XKE Series I caught the attention of none other than Enzo Ferrari himself who called it, "The most beautiful car ever made". To this day, it's hard to argue.
From 1961 through 1975, Jaguar produced 70,000 units of various E-Type iterations in total. Not exactly the sort of limited production numbers that attract collectors normally. So, the criteria is refined to the Series I 3.8 Roadster featuring the silk smooth straight six engine, attractive styling touches such as aluminum dash and console, toggle switches, small seats, and as featured on the first 300 XKE's, flat floors. The hunt is on.
The various versions of E-Types have been regulars at catalogue and tent auctions throughout the world, sometimes because there are so many of them they're barely noticed unless a really extraordinary example rolls across the blocks.
Jaguar E-Types were barely a blip on the auction circuit maps as late as two years ago with values held in check by uncertainty in the market, plus there are just so bloody many of them out there, bargains were to be had.
Smart collectors were buying Series I E-Types years ago anticipating doubling or tripling their investment when the market came back around and they've not been disappointed.
In 2011, all bets are off as it has become extremely difficult to find a top quality Series I E-Type Roadster (and some Coupes) for under $100,000. Notable examples sold for $118,250 and $132,000 at the Gooding & Co. and RM Auctions respectively during the Monterey Weekend in August with others being offered privately for even more.
The collector market will always regenerate upticks in certain markets when significant anniversaries come around. However, much like American Muscle Cars, the E-Type market is a roller coaster of up's and down's and once the anniversary hype cools off, values will slowly settle back down at least for another ten years.
Looking forward to 2012 however, all eyes are now on original Shelby Cobra 289 Roadsters which will be celebrating their 50th Anniversary and prominently featured marquis at important events such as the Pebble Beach Concours and Monterey Historics.
Cobra Roadster values are leaping up in anticipation of the big events, those joining the bandwagon late may end up forking over $1,000,000+ for 289 Cobras that were $400,000 a year ago and the auction companies are wringing their hands.
So, keep note of significant anniversaries of post-war collectible cars. 25th, meh. 30th, getting a pulse. 40th, gaining some notice. 50th, evokes buying frenzy. 60th, on and on it goes...