Detroit Autorama

The 2016 Detroit Autorama did not disappoint! It is everything it is cracked up to be. With the Great 8 and ultimately the Riddler Award being announced, there is no doubt some of the best customs in the world are on display.

Detroit Autorama Ridler Award Winner

If these automotive pieces of art aren’t your thing, there were plenty of custom cars and trucks that range from rat rods to drivers to trailer queens to look at and talk to the owners about. To me, an entry level hot rod is just as cool as one of the great eight.

Detroit Autorama Yellow Camaro

I want to know what has been done to the car and what the owner still wants to do. Most of us don’t have the time or money to build or have built a Riddler car.

Detroit Autorama hot rod 2

Don’t ever let that stop you. Car guys have a lot of respect for those getting in the hobby and building something on a budget. We have all been there and most of us stay there. Having the passion and enjoying the hobby is what it is all about!

Detroit Autorama collector car

Barrett Jackson Auction 2016

The collector cars that show up at the Barrett Jackson Auction in Scottsdale each year can give you a good idea of what trends we will be seeing. It also, re-enforces my belief in the collector car hobby.

Barrett Jackson Auction hot rod

This year was big for the restomod Corvettes. I lost count of how many crossed the block this year. High end quality and style brought out some big money for these cars. However, compared to what is invested into building one of these cars, you could consider it a bargain. It is nothing to have $200,000 to $300,000 or more invested in one of these high-end builds. So buying a ’67 Corvette restomod for $125,000-$150,000 could be considered a steal! With the amount of restomod Corvettes on the market, prices should stay well below the cost to build one.

Barrett Jackson Auction 64 Corvette

Another trend that is continuing is the popularity of the cars from the 80’s and 90’s. They have found a place in the collector car market and continue to go up in value. So keep a lookout for a nice, fox body Mustang, Monte Carlo SS, Grand National, Iroc Z, GTA Trans Am, or Hurst Oldsmobile from the 80’s. It just might be worth more than what someone is willing to sell it for.

Barrett Jackson Auction Camaro

Lastly, the hot rod market is in transition. While the hobby is strong, it is aging rapidly. There will continue to be some high quality hot rods from the 1920’s, 30’s, and 40’s come available in the near future and unless a younger generation embraces it, the prices will continue to go down. Watching the collector car hobby is like watching the stock market. Except for me, it is a lot more fun!

Cavalcade of Customs 2016

It is time to start a new year of car shows. The 2016 Cavalcade of Customs in Cincinnati kicked off the season. For a lot of people that starts in the spring but with the inside shows it keeps us Northern States car guys engaged through the winter months.

Ami G 1965 Chevy Malibu SS at Cavalcade

This years’ Cavalcade of Customs in Cincinnati was a big success.

green collector car at Cavalcade

There were all segments of the collector car hobby represented. We had the high end customs, drag cars, rat rods, hot rods, and custom trucks. We also had the some cool things that will always enhance a car show.

DeLorean collector car

The show had builders with their cars on display, pin up girl contest, beard contest, and lots of vending booths with tools and car accessories.

Patina collector car truck

It feels great starting off the new year with this type of show. We teamed up with our partners Classic Auto Insurance Agency. Ami G was on display.

red collector car

We were talking cars and talking collector car insurance all weekend long. It was a great weekend!

purple collector car

What did the 2015 Monterey Auctions tell us this year? A lot!

The 2014 auction results were no fluke! The final auction result entries show that we are over the 400 million mark for the second year in a row, and not far off from the record-setting $428 million dollars in cars sold in 2014.

So far, 2015 has shown:

  • RM Auctions setting a new auction record at $172.9 million in sales
  • Gooding & Company setting a two-day sales company record with $128 million in sales, and
  • numerous records being set for many cars, creating many new benchmarks.

The overall results have more to do with what cars were on the auction block in 2015 and not the collector car market.

Ferrari is still king of the auction block. There were numerous record-setting prices for Ferrari when the hammer dropped last week. Out of the top 25 cars sold at the Monterey Auctions, 16 of them were Ferrari’s. In fact, the top two were the 1964 Ferrari 250LM ($17.6 million) and the 1961 Ferrari 250GT California SWB Spider ($16.83 million).

Next, values on Exotics from the 80’s through current day are growing at a rapid pace! This is great for the hobby. As long as there is a demand, automakers will continue to outdo themselves each model year.

As an example, here are the top 8 modern day exotics from the RM Auction:

1 – 1998 McLaren F1 ‘LM-Specification’- $13,750,000
2 – 2005 Ferrari Enzo – $6,050,000
3 – 1994 Ferrari F40 LM – $3,300,000
4 – 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO – $2,420,000
5 – 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport “300” – $2,310,000
6 – 2005 Maserati MC12 – $2,090,000
7 – 2015 McLaren P1 – $1,980,000
8 – 1995 Ferrari F50 – $1,980,000

We also have big classic cars continuing to hold their own. From pre-war back to the Brass era, these cars steal the show at the Concours events. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is a perfect example with a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A taking best-of-show this year.

The best-in-class Gold Ribbon winners were:

  • 1914 Rolls Royce,
  • 1937 Delahaye
  • 1953 Abarth 1100


New cars on the block! I loved seeing a couple examples of the 1967 Toyota 2000GT go across the block.   They were a unique and very rare sports car from Toyota that housed a Yamaha-influenced overhead cam in line 6-cylinder. Rick Cole Auctions and Mecum Auctions were both selling exceptional examples of these cars. These cars are making a statement for the Japanese automakers in the collector car hobby by selling in the million dollar range!

Lastly, one has to ask, is it the Gen Xers making their presence known in the hobby driving these prices?  The number of first time bidders and bidders in there 30’s and 40’s are at an all-time high. I am going to say they are definitely having an impact. And this is a very good sign for the collector car hobby!

Monterey week is the best of the best. You will see cars you have never seen before and you will see cars selling left and right that the normal person would have to win the lottery to even consider. It is a spectacle and it is fun! Here is hoping that my generation (gen x) can keep it going!

Ashley’s Austin Healey

It would be safe to say that the majority of the people reading this blog post are gearheads with a penchant for mechanical pieces whether they roll on the ground, skip across the water or fly through the air. While we get pulled in by the fascinating bits and pieces, giving hours of attention to care, recreation and research, most of us would agree that the people are what make certain events and activities more enjoyable and most memorable.

Austin Healey driverside

Every June, the second Sunday is reserved for the Ault Park Concours d’Elegance, where I recruit two seat Sports Cars up to 1959 for the Sports Classic category. These cars bring a smile to everyone’s face, Porsche, MG, Jaguar, Corvette, Alfa, Morgan, Triumph, Lotus, Ferrari, Siata, Austin Healey, all the little cars that are big fun! For 2014, an Austin Healey 100 BN2 was scheduled to appear on the field, registered by Gary Feldman from northern Ohio; the car had undergone a thorough restoration including extensive work performed in the Feldman’s garage.

Austin Healey backend

At Ault Park the cars wind down the garden paths to get onto the show field. The Big Healey drew attention as it picked it way through the gardens to take up its position amongst the other sports cars on the show field. As the 100-4, black with deep red inserts, and matching deep red interior, rolled across the lawn with the hood up to keep the morning dew at bay, one couldn’t help but notice the young lady in the passenger seat sporting an enormous grin. Ashley Feldman beamed from the right seat as her Dad, Gary, put the car on its marks; she popped out of the right side and went for the detailing equipment before Gary could extract himself from under the raised top. After a brief introduction, the Feldman’s prepared the car for the judging and spectators as I took the opportunity to look over the decidedly luscious Healey.

Austin Healey grill

Both Gary and Linda, Ashley’s Mother, took time to explain the depth of Ashley’s involvement in the restoration of the 100-4. From the day it was brought home as a used sports car Ashley developed an affinity for the car and claimed it part and parcel as “Her Car.” When the restoration process began, Ashley delved into the project alongside Gary, handing tools, reading instructions, pushing cables and pulling wires – all the fun stuff of the restoration project. Ashley faces special challenges with learning daily, vintage sports car restoration is a challenge she enthusiastically accepts and enjoys.

Ashley in her Austin Healey

A young lady proud of the car she put on the show field, as she well should be; Big Healey’s are quite the find with Concours recruiters. Few and far between, it is always an honor to have one on display. To have an exemplary Austin Healey adds immeasurably to any Concours. To have a Big Healey with such an exemplary story is very rare. A young lady restoring sports cars with her Dad and embracing the hobby is a refreshing twist from the daily grind.

Thanks to Ashley and the Feldmans for adding even more delight to our day.

Driving Tour Draws the Classics

Spring weather rolled through the Ohio Valley just in time for the annual Spring Classic Driving Tour, providing the best Saturday of the month for classic, collector and sports car enthusiasts to get behind the wheel for a day of fun. This event is an embodiment of “the Journey is the Destination.” Participants meander across southwest Ohio on roads picked more for their character, scenery and lack of traffic than the direction of travel.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

This early season cruise came complete with moderate temperatures and cloudless skies, leading to a lot of top down motoring and the associated development of “Cabriolet tans.” In total, 86 cars (mostly sports cars) drove from the east side of Cincinnati for the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains — about 60 miles to the east in Adams County, Ohio.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

The area is geographically intense. The proximity of the Appalachian Mountains and ancient glaciation make for a landscape that reminds drivers why they bought a sports car. The elevation can change dramatically as the roads flash to and fro, following creeks through the gorges as they drop toward the Ohio River Valley.

The variety of cars entered this year made for quite a scene at the start of the event. About a dozen people showed up early just to enjoy the ad hoc car show before the start of the cruise!

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Scott Tengen

Porsche was the most prolific brand on the tour, with 356, 912, 911, 944, Cayenne, Cayman and Boxster models on the road. VW was represented by a Karmann Ghia, a Thing, a Baja Bug modified Beetle and a fun loving group of car lovers having a good time. Several BMWs drove, including a Z8, Z4, M5 and 2002.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

MG owners turned out in TC, TD, TF, Y-type, Midget and MGB models to experience roads similar to those found in the UK. Almost as many Austin Healey enthusiasts made the grid in 100-6, 3000 and Sprite models, along with one Jensen Healey. Triumph drivers brought a variety of interesting machines — including TR3, TR250 and TR6 — to the party.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Scott Tengen

Ferrari’s 512TR, 575, 360 and 308 Dino, along with a Lamborghini Spyder, brought wonderful sounds and ultra-exotic coachwork. Other Italians included an Alfa Romeo Milano Verde and a classic GTV with a twin plug two-litre under the hood, a Fiat 500 and a Maserati Spyder. A Gran Turismo supplied more eye and ear candy.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

Corvettes came in the guise of C-3, C-4 and C-6, along with corporate performance mate Buick’s Grand National, bringing traditional American power (and plenty of it!).

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

Additional machinery from Audi, Datsun, Dodge, Jaguar, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Morgan, Nissan GTR, Saab, Volvo spent the day winding along the ridges and through the valleys.  And a couple of grocery getter types tagged along with our rolling car show.

The number of entries prompted the organizers to plot two routes — one for late model cars and the other for vintage cars. The distinct routes allowed each group member to enjoy his or her car’s performance as originally intended.

The late model route went farther, faster, and included several legs on wide-open state highways, allowing the drivers to experience the strength of their machinery. The vintage cars concentrated on roads suited to smaller, lighter, ultra-nimble models. Three stops were planned for each route to allow the drivers and navigators to get out for a stretch and walk about — a necessity when traveling in cars made primarily for performance rather than comfort.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Scott Tengen

Finding facilities that can park 40-45 cars in a picturesque, rural county can be challenging. The organizers relied heavily on Adams County Convention & Visitors Bureau director Tom Cross for suggestions.

Each group visited an Amish market with a furniture outlet, bulk food store, sandwich shop, and bakeries filled with pies, cakes, breads, pretzels and other goodies. The Amish ladies will weave custom baskets too; several car owners were spotted measuring back seats and luggage racks to fit a basket that could be filled with pies for a safe journey home.

Antiquing is prevalent in the area and is a fitting breather from some of the character-filled roads; several stores in the area feature dealership, service station and other auto-related collectibles. The Rooster’s Nest Antiques and Barn Sale Antiques welcomed the sports cars and took them for a journey into the past. About this time, the folks with the grocery getter-type cars were getting very popular, those little sports cars were never known for cargo space!

The late model group wound its way along Ohio Brush Creek to the Tranquility State Wildlife Area, a scenic wooded area that is also home to the John T. Wilson Homestead, a nationally-recognized historic site. The John T. Wilson Homestead dates back to the 1820s, when it was a general store. Later, it was a station on the Underground Railroad. It has been authentically restored by Ralph and Patty Alexander and now operates as a bed & breakfast.

Apr 18, 2015: Motoring in Focus Spring Classic Driving Tour.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Loewe

The vintage car group followed the John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail around the county and visited the JZN Goat Farm, to the delight of kids (as in, baby goats) and people alike. Cheese and goat milk was sampled and many folks fed the young goats. This proved to be a popular destination. We listened to interesting commentary by Gayla Fritzhand on the making of goat cheese and milk. The goats were pretty entertaining, too.

Overall, the destinations offered a bit of diversion from the serious “car guy” stuff and provided entertainment for some of our not-as-enthusiastic enthusiasts.

The final leg of the driving tour celebrated hills, curves, twists and dales as the two itineraries merged for the final destination: the Moyer Vineyard Winery & Restaurant in Manchester, Ohio. Offering fine dining and refreshing beverages after 120 miles of four-wheeled fun, the restaurant was packed with colorful, exotic machines. Departing west for home took many on a sunset cruise along the mighty Ohio River.

Experienced motorsports photographers Jeff Loewe and Scott Tengen photographed the proceedings and offer galleries (click on their names to view) for your enjoyment.

World of Wheels – Indianapolis 2015

We just wrapped up a great show, the World of Wheels in Indianapolis, where we worked with our partners at Classic Auto Insurance.

Classic Ford Mustang

Like most of the indoor shows over the winter, it gives car guys like us an outlet and provides a temporary fix until spring comes bouncing back.

Classic Chevy Corvette

World of Wheels showcased a lot of high-end customs, where the workmanship was simply exceptional. It was easy to be impressed with the cars that were on display. To complement, we also had the hardcore hot rodders with their gassers, hot rods, and customs. These guys love their cars and live for the hobby.

World of Wheels classic car

One thing is for sure, everyone who brought their car to the show (and every spectator) shares that same love for classic cars.

Ami G. received her share of attention too. Seeing the story of her rebuild brought smiles to many faces. We loved being part of the show and the people we met were great!

1965 Chevy Malibu - Ami G.

Stay tuned for the next Ami G. appearance. If she comes to a town near you, stop by and say hi!

Did SEMA glimpse into the future of classic cars?

I recently attended the 2014 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. SEMA stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association. I define SEMA as the equivalent to the hot rodder’s paradise. The SEMA show fills the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as several other surrounding areas. According to SEMA, the show attracts over 60,000 buyers and over 100,000 industry leaders from more than 100 countries.

Every SEMA Show exhibits new parts and tools on the market in the auto industry, and spells out what the collector vehicle and custom car market will become. In my opinion, this year has shown great trends in the hobby. The resto-mod and pro-touring segment of the collector car market has grown substantially over the past decade because of the intersection of new technology with old cars. Companies are creating better shop equipment to help both restorers and builders create award-winning show pieces at a new level of perfection.

There were two obvious trends that I noticed at this years’ SEMA show.

1 – Square-bodied C10 custom trucks.  Pro-touring, custom, and even stock C10 trucks from the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s are picking up a lot of steam.  There is a demand for these trucks, both in stock trim and multiple modified stages.  As demand grows for these C10 trucks, so will the value.

C10 Custom Trucks at SEMA

2 – Hot rodding is alive and well with new cars.  From the Ford Mustang GT500, to the Chevy Camaro ZL1, the Dodge Charger & Challenger Hellcat, car manufacturers are taking performance to a whole new level.   This is happening because of demand.  A consumer is looking for both reliability and style, along with an extreme amount of horsepower. The muscle car craze of the 60’s era exploded because of these same interests. The aftermarket industry has embraced these cars and manufacture just about anything you could want to make these new cars faster, lighter, and better looking.

Camaro-Mustang-Challenger at SEMA

You can learn a lot by attending a show like SEMA.  This year I learned that the collector car hobby is alive and well. The future continues to look bright with all of the new cars coming to the market!