Bonhams and Butterfields, Westin Kierland, Scottsdale, Arizona, January 28, 2016
Bonhams kicked off the concentration of Arizona Auction Week events with its Thursday mid-day sale at the Westin Kierland. From here on it was one auction after another, often several at a time, across the Valley of the Sun.
Bonhams also provided an object lesson in the effects of supply and demand with an array of fifteen Porsche 911s across much of the 911’s unprecedented fifty (yes, fifty) year evolution. While there is nothing interchangeable between an early short wheelbase two-liter air-cooled 911 and a current water-cooled, turbocharged 991, the Porsche 911 has stayed closer to its origins than any of its current competitors, with the possible exception of Corvette. The only thing Porsche has overlooked in perpetuating the 911 has been the preservation of a single, non-critical element – a switch, bracket, handle, gauge – from the early 911s that could be incorporated in the current high tech 991, just to say, “hey, we get it, and we respect all the 911s that have gone before with this small homage to our history.”
In any event, fifteen 911s lined up along the fence at the Westin were a show. The model, particularly the early short wheelbase cars, has been on a tear for the past two years, regularly tearing up the Porsche pages in value guides and auction reports. The value trend seemed to fly in the face of Porsche production over the years. Aside from a few, special variants, Porsches were built in quantity, and consumed in quantity by a customer base that rarely abused them. The end result? There never has been a shortage of used 911s in the marketplace. But with Bonhams Scottsdale auction that potential abundance may have been turned into real supply, which may have caught up with – if not surpassed – demand.
All the fifteen 911s were sold but eleven of them brought hammer bids below the pre-sale low estimate. The four remaining were sold within the estimate range; none exceeded the high estimate.
It was a pattern repeated across the other Scottsdale auctions, too, where a total of 66 911s were offered; none of them sold above their high estimates.
But enough about 911s.
Bonhams Scottsdale is about diversity and without a multi-million dollar headline consignment (something that was missing throughout most of the Scottsdale auctions this year as well) this was a more consistent, and more accessible, collection of cars than in prior years.
So forgive an old guy’s (Scottsdale Friday was my birthday) infatuation with the beautifully restored Mercer Series Six Sporting, or our collaborator Andrew Newton’s fascination with the Riley RMB Drophead. It really was about cars that many people could like, and often aspire to own. Even Porsche 911s which might be seeing an adjustment to values that put them within reach of a wider but still enthusiastic base.
Andrew Newton contributed some of the on-site observations and photos; the editor is responsible for the final content.
Bonhams Scottsdale 2016 – Auction Report