Report and photos by Rick Carey
RM Auctions, Inn at St. John’s, Plymouth, Michigan, July 30, 2011
Located barely 20 minutes from Detroit Metro Airport, between Livonia and Ann Arbor, the periphery of Plymouth, Michigan suffers some of the ‘closed auto plant’ blight of the Detroit area but more than makes up for it with carefully maintained homes, tree-lined avenues and a walking-centered downtown clustered around a village green with sidewalk dining and more ice cream shops than the Coney Island boardwalk.
Situated just off the main Livonia-Ann Arbor road, the Inn at St. John’s has evolved from a 1940’s seminary and still provides retreat and spiritual services to the Detroit Archdiocese although the seminary closed in 1988. Redevelopment began in 1998 and has proceeded into 2006 with the opening of a 118-room boutique hotel and conference center where the Concours d’Elegance of America is now established on the Inn’s 27-hole golf course.
I don’t know the politics and business plans that ended Meadow Brook, but the Inn at St. John’s is easily accessible, tightly-wrapped and impressively maintained.
RM followed the concours here (or led the concours here?) with a modest 70-car consignment calculated to maximize interest while minimizing the operational risks of conducting an auction at a new venue with just one access portal to the auction block in the Inn at St. John’s unfortunately-named Grande Ballroom. Starting at 11 AM (or thereabouts), the auction wound up about 3 PM leaving more than enough time to get ready for the Concours dinner, and room for RM to add cars to next year’s consignment without falling all over themselves.
Pre-auction viewing was constrained to a parking area outside the ballroom and some adjacent lawn, but there are nearby parking areas that will easily absorb – with less crowding – 50% or more auction cars in coming years. The pre-sale party food was good and ample (as RM’s first-year sales are prone to be.) Downtown Plymouth is only a two mile drive where I found good spaghetti Bolognese and Pinot Noir at Compari’s for barely expensive (the spaghetti was just $11.95, but it was only side order size.)
Oh, yeah, the numbers. RM sold 60 of the 70 cars offered, 85.7% for a total of $7,646,700, an average of $127,445 and a median of $66,000. 30 of the 60 cars sold hammered at less than the low estimate (50%) and only two over their high estimates (3.3%). Total bids on sold cars were $6,951,646 against their low estimates of $7,175,500, 96.9% of estimate.
In RM’s last year at Meadow Brook in 2010 they sold 85 of 99 cars offered, 85.9% for a total of $10,173,850 with an average transaction of $119,692 and a median of $60,500. 53 of the 85 cars sold hammered at less than the low estimate (62.4%) and eight sold over their high estimates (9.4%). Total bids on sold cars were $9,248,955 against their low estimates of $8,920,000, 103.7% of estimate.
No matter what else it means, RM Auctions conclusively demonstrated its command of the market, astutely consigning, reserving and representing a wide variety of cars in a new and untried venue and delivering impressively consistent results.
It will take a few years to become familiar with Plymouth and its surroundings but the initial impression is that the quest will be rewarding.
RM Auctions Concours of America at St. John’s 2011 – Auction Report