David Gooding is president and founder of Gooding & Co. in Santa Monica, one of the preeminent automotive auction companies in the world. CSQ recently spoke with Gooding about the future of car collecting and car auctions. Gooding & Co. completed a strong weekend in Pebble Beach, raking in $129M in sales. Auction highlights included the sale of a 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Roadster for $11.99M and a Bugatti Type 55 Roadster for $10.4M.
CSQ My experience attending auctions is that the energy and excitement at most auctions is orchestrated by the auctioneer. This generally leads to more active bidders and higher values. What traits make your auctioneers at Gooding stand out above those at other auction houses?
DAVID GOODING We have Charlie Ross and he is the best in the business. I’ve seen auctioneers at not just car auctions, but at art, real estate, and in all different categories and I think Charlie is the best out there. What makes him great is that he is very transparent, which is one of the credos of the company as we’re all about transparency, so the audience immediately feels comfortable. Charlie has an incredible energy, but it’s genuine.
CSQ Gooding is known for the top-line vehicles at its auctions. How do you vet the cars to verify they are genuine and collectable as represented by the seller?
DG We do a tremendous amount of research ahead of time. We look at all the cars and thoroughly inspect them. We have an incredible database and a team within the company that researches the cars, and we are all car specialists. All we do is talk cars all day long, and then at night we go home and read more about cars. I would say 80 percent of the cars that we look at we find out additional information that the owners of the cars did not know.
CSQ Do particular cars do better at different auction venues?
DG There are cars that tend to fit better at different auctions. We had great success for example with Porsches at Amelia Island. Florida has for many years done well with Porsche because of their history at the endurance races of Sebring and Daytona and there are so many Porsche collectors in the east. It’s a global brand, of course, but there’s just sort of a tradition of Porsche there. Most notably, we offered Jerry Seinfeld’s collection there. That doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t sell a Porsche at Pebble Beach or Scottsdale.
CSQ Appreciation of collector cars has been at a frenzied level, outperforming the stock market, real estate, art, and other collectables over the past five years. Where do you see the collector car market heading?
DG I think there are a lot of legs left to it. There are a lot of collectors taking a longer-term view of car collecting. Collecting art has been around for hundreds of years, but car collecting has been recognized since the mid- to late-’80s where there was a boom bust, and there were certainly some fluctuations. I think there are going to be more fluctuations, but long term I think there’s quite a strong trend upward. There just seems to be so much enthusiasm and passion for collecting. It’s one of those hobbies that just grabs people for a number of reasons. When people really connect with a car, they connect with it on a number of levels. Just the aroma of the interior can trigger a memory from 40 years ago. Not to say that the car market is going to just continue appreciating at this pace. I think what we’re going to see in the next few years is a real delta between the exceptional cars and the average cars.
CSQ What do you think are the next up-and-coming collector cars?
DG We’re seeing more and more special Japanese cars coming to the market that are bringing significant values and have quite a following. There are always the brands such as Mercedes, Porsche, and Ferrari that have a strong following, but we are also seeing Toyotas and Nissans on the move. We certainly see these cars more active and are selling quite a few more than we used to because the mark has such a huge following. We are also seeing greater activity and appreciation with BMWs.