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Month in Motoring February, and a Bit of March

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Month in Motoring February, and a Bit of March

“Can’t we all just get along?” – Rodney King

I never thought I would quote Rodney King when discussing collector car news, but his famous quote could never be more applicable.

This past month was marked by tension and division between collector car auctions. Conflict over the Amelia Island Concours essentially eclipsed highlights of this year’s Rétromobile. While there was much to appreciate about Rétromobile – as always – collectors and classic car enthusiasts will likely remember February 2024 for the drama between Hagerty and RM Auctions. 

Let’s unpack some of this past month’s most notable events in the collector car world, including Rétromobile, the Amelia Island Concours, and the new Moda Miami that caused a stir. 

Rétromobile 2024

The first week of February saw the annual and always-exciting Rétromobile event in Paris, France. I’m happy to report that this event was a great success and indicated that the collector car industry remains strong despite challenges. 

retromobileTwo potential setbacks for this year’s Rétromobile were inflation and protests. Like the United States, Europe has felt the pressure of inflation in the past few years. As you likely know, this economic stress can be a real strain on collectors and the classic car industry in general. 

The protests came in the form of French farmers surrounding Paris, equipped with tractors blocking motorways. The farmers are protesting constraining regulations and demanding that the French government champion domestic farms. While the motivation for these protests had nothing to do with Rétromobile, there was concern that the growing demonstrations could disrupt the beloved classic car event. 

Despite inflation and protests, Rétromobile was a huge success with record-breaking attendance. As usual, the event was primarily carried by three auctions presented by Artcurial, Bonhams, and RM Auctions. The results didn’t make much news, but sales were solid for all three auction houses. Once again, this corroborates the overall health of the collector car market.

Tension Over the Amelia Island Concours 2024

As February rolled on, classic car enthusiasts saw aggressive marketing efforts conducted by two competing titans of the collector car world. retromobile

The conflict began back in 2021 with the announcement that Hagerty would take over the Amelia Island Concours. This was then compounded by Hagerty replacing RM Auction with Broad Arrow Auctions as the host auction in the Amelia Island Concours 2023. Being replaced by Broad Arrow was a heavy blow for RM, as it undermined the auction house’s dominance in the collector car industry. 

RM Auctions responded to the perceived slight by committing to host a new competing car show. They created a show in Miami, just six hours south of Amelia Island. 

It’s worth noting the Amelia Island Concours has always had multiple auctions held by various companies, and RM could have still participated even though they were no longer the host auction house. 

Competing Marketing Efforts

vintage carThe Miami Moda and the Amelia Island Concours disseminated competing efforts to draw in collectors and classic car enthusiasts. Both shows sent out numerous emails in February stressing that they had the best cars that were sure to “wow” collectors. 

What was especially interesting about this conflict was the response from collectors. Anecdotally, it seemed that car enthusiasts felt that both events were trying too hard with their email blasts and came across as desperate. I didn’t mind receiving many updates and news about the events, but many were annoyed by the efforts. 

While some enthusiasts didn’t care to take sides between the two competing events, many did pick a team after RM parted ways with the Amelia Island Concours. Many collectors made up their minds on who to support back in 2023. They were firm on their opinions over which event was better no matter how both events turned out. 

2024 The Amelia Island Concours vs Moda Miami

classic carIn the end, these two classic car events couldn’t have been more different. As always, the Amelia was marked by three-plus days of car culture from all sides of the hobby. It featured something for everyone in its familiar and quiet location. Unfortunately, the event was constantly threatened by rainy weather, but that didn’t deter crowds from pouring in to behold exceptional vehicles. 

Bonhams and Gooding held especially eventful auctions, with Gooding’s sales totaling almost $70 million. Perhaps the most notable vehicle was a breathtaking Ferrari 250 GTO. That alone was worth the price of admission for most people. 

The Moda Miami event was held at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, a historic hotel on the edge of one of the flashiest cities in the world. The event was marked by three days of exotic cars, exotic foods, and exclusive content. 

The only issue that people had with the new event was the cost to attend for mainstream collectors. The Moda Miami justified the cost because of the hypercars on display. It boasted a world-class backdrop that even Formula has now discovered. 

In my opinion, events like this are well worth the price. The event was much like an expensive restaurant that you enjoy once a year on your birthday. Though costly, the event certainly delivered and impressed. 

“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

car classic autoSo why the Rodney King quote? Because the car hobby at this level needs to get along. The two competing car shows were fundamentally different, and it’s really not worth picking sides. The perceived split in the classic car industry will likely be short-lived, and hobbyists and auction houses need to get along. 

There is certainly space on the calendar for both events, and this unnecessary conflict only hurt collectors who wanted to attend both. Numerous hobbyists had to choose between one or the other, and the difficult choice left many wondering whether they should have attended the alternative event. 

We cannot forget that the car culture is as much about people as it is the cars, and it’s not fair to force passionate hobbyists to choose between competing events. The classic car hobby is all about relationships and those who adore collector vehicles, and that should always be the focus. Let’s hope that we see that in 2025.

Happy Motoring!

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