Creative Workshop Sport Speciale – No Sale!

Submitted by Jason Wenig from The Creative Workshop, a restoration and full service coach builder out in Florida.

Sport Speciale-top-shot Ferrari recreationAn interesting turn of events transpired this past weekend.

As you are probably aware, last week was the “big auction week” out in Scottsdale, AZ (culminating on Saturday night), where all of the major car auction companies display and sell a dizzying array of vehicles. On top of the grandeur of these events, in many ways, it can be said that this past week sets the tone for values and trends for the coming year.

As a car builder, I walk a thin line. I personally am not a big fan of the auctions – I don’t sell cars – I build them, but it is hard not to at least be interested, and in many instances, it is important for me to understand where people’s money is going – what types of cars, what eras, etc are being sold… if not just for business, then certainly for my own love of cars!

Which brings me to my story: My Client, (Arizona’s own, car collector) Barry Smith, decided to get the Sport Speciale involved in this fray – consigning the car with Drew Alcazar of Russo & Steele (Drew is a personal friend of Barry’s). Now, as I said, I am not a vested fan of the auctions, and I was certainly not involved in this consignment, but Barry, being a shrewd businessman, wanted to see what the market for and value of his beloved car was. So he put the car up, set a very high reserve, and let the fates take a turn.

Ferrari Testarossa recreation, the "Sport Speciale" engine pictureFor me, I was admittedly a bit nervous – having a car that was completely designed and built in-house – being presented against venerable classics, and in a weak and teetering economy. As an artist, one can get tense when presenting their work in an open “shark like” forum such as this… as a business man, having a value placed on your product under these circumstances – can, well, be quite unnerving!!Ferrari recreation Sports Speciale-side-full-shot by Creative Workshop

Well, after the dust settled on Saturday night’s bidding (the Speciale was THE car of the event – it went off prime time on Saturday night), the car did not sell – Barry turned down a high bid of $630,000 (to the buyer, approximately $700K with premiums, etc)! To put this in perspective, the highest price paid for any car at R&S was $600K for a Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing! Needless to say, I am as much humbled as I am honored by this.

After the shock of this has settled a bit, I spent some time thinking about it all:

  • Although all of the “number crunching” is not done yet, it seems the collector car market in general is showing softness (along with the rest of the economy) – down perhaps as much as 30%.
  • Our car was bid up to $630,000. One of the highest priced cars of the weekend (of ANY of the auction houses!!). Barry, smartly, did not sell the car at this price – correctly reading the market – that the car is probably worth considerably more. Our car out priced Ferraris, Mercedes, prototype American cars, grand classics and even charity “celebrity” auction cars!!
  • If someone was prepared to spend $700K in a market that is potentially 20% – 30% deflated, it could be theorized that our car, in a normal or strong market, could approach the $1MM mark. Indeed, I found out who the high bidder was, and he is known for owning and selling his cars for a profit. He too saw the potential of buying this car at an “undervalued” $700K price!!
  • Our car was finished one year ago – and hit the road at the beginning of the recession we are now fully in. The car cost approximately $600K to build. During this period of time, the overall market declined – yet our car not only held its value, but it increased in value.
  • The car, overnight, has become a liquid asset…meaning: Hard assets become illiquid if their values suffer during market fluctuations (go lower than acquisition cost) or have no buyers (especially in a bad market – and you need to sell). Well, our car was presented in a very unfavorable arena (car values down, economy down, etc), and not only attracted many potential purchasers, but attracted purchasers that were willing to buy the car at a premium to what it cost to build.

What all of this means to me: Creativity, automotive art, uniqueness – are all alive and well. Quality and soul are still rewarded. Our Creative Workshop brand continues to establish itself – even under unfavorable conditions.

I am proud of the work we did and continue to do and I am humbled that a great deal of blood, sweat and tears has been rewarded – in a medium that for better or worse, is an easier language for most to understand – monetary value.

Thanks for being a part of this.

Jason Wenig
The Creative Workshop