Cancellation or postponement? What 2021 can hold for the collector car hobby



It would be easier to compile a list of the collectible car events that were NOT canceled in 2020 than adding up the ones that were. There is no point in complaining about what has become the car hobby because of the pandemic, and we shouldn’t lose sight of the many people, both those who got sick and those who cared for them and suffered from this crisis to have. One silver lining is that many of us have had the opportunity to reevaluate what is important and cherish each day as something worth cherishing.

Back in the driver’s seat

For those of us who are already in the hobby, treasure was the gift of an extra time to spend with our cars, either to maintain them, repair them or, best of all, to drive in them! Driving can be an ideal socially distant route enjoy yourself. Maybe 2020 was the year you finally found the classic wheelset you always wanted. Or maybe you said to yourself that in 2021 you will finally buy the collector car of your dreams. (More information on buying and enjoying this first collector’s car can be found here Read my free e-book here or press the Free download Button below).

The hobby has always had the advantage of being pampered in different ways: cruise nights, auctions, tours, rallies and various club events can be enjoyed with different amounts of time and money. The pandemic had an impact on the whole of 2020. Again and again we heard the refrain: “Wait until 2021.”

Well 2021 is here and things are getting better but slowly. There is a lot of optimism among car enthusiasts that we will soon get back to normal, but patience is still required. With that in mind, and with spring almost here, with the 2021 calendar in hand, let’s look ahead and gain a glimpse of how the year is developing for those of us who long to get back in the driver’s seat.

Calendars are usually posted

The car hobbyist’s calendar is traditionally filled with a consistent parade of events held over the same time period each year. Highlights include the Arizona auctions in January, the Amelia Island Concours in Florida in March, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and Monterey auctions in Northern California in August, and the AACA Hershey Auto Show and Flea Market in Pennslyvania in October.

In addition to these big shows, there is a steady stream of auctions (Barrett-Jackson, Mecum, and RM Sotheby’s among others); major regional shows such as the Woodward (MI) Dream Cruise and the Greenwich (CT) Concours; and countless tours, rallies and cruise nights in small towns. Most of these either did not occur or were scaled back significantly in 2020.

Mecum Auctions is hosting its third annual auction in Glendale, Arizona, at State Farm Stadium March 18-20.  The 1,200 vehicle offering is dominated by Steve Todhunter's collection, which includes 20 vehicles ranging from seven immaculate low-mile Ferraris to a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra FAM that previously belonged to the late actor Paul Walker.Mecum Auctions is hosting its third annual auction in Glendale, Arizona, at State Farm Stadium March 18-20. The 1,200 vehicle offering is dominated by Steve Todhunter’s collection, which includes 20 vehicles ranging from seven immaculate low-mile Ferraris to a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra FAM that previously belonged to the late actor Paul Walker. Photo: Mecum Auction, Inc.

The new normal

This year may not have started off as cheaply as hoped as the major Arizona auctions have been effectively minimized, although each auction house has their own ideas. Last year, massive live events took place in the region at eight auction houses (noting that January was before the pandemic). However, in 2021 only three companies, RM Sotheby’s, Russo & Steele and Bonhams, hosted events with personal attendees. In all of these cases, participation was limited to registered bidders. Gooding and Worldwide conducted online auctions only. The big dog of the pack, Barrett-Jackson, canceled their auctions in 2020 but will continue with their 2021 Scottsdale auction which begins March 20th.

The Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), the largest classic car club in the country (and the world) with over 35,000 members, holds its annual meeting in Philadelphia each February, a tradition that has its roots in the 1930s . For 2021, the club announced that the meeting would be postponed until May, and just weeks later announced that restrictions in the state of Pennsylvania would result in the meeting being canceled until a venue was available in another state.

Looks like shift (so far)

When winter weather keeps hobbyists and their machines under wraps, it is the eternal hope of spring that brings us outside to enjoy the fresh air and each other’s company again. Organizers across the country are recognizing this and are working to balance this against ongoing restrictions, the introduction of vaccines and the very human desire to get back to normal. The organizers of Amelia Island have already announced that their traditional time frame for the beginning of March will now be postponed to the end of May. The Greenwich Concours, an event in early June since its inception in the late 1990s, will take place in late October this year.

Smaller groups are also under pressure to announce dates, reserve hotel rooms and hope for the best. An example is the Alfa Romeo Owners Club (AROC) to which your author belongs. After canceling their annual national event in July 2020, AROC announced that the event would roll over to July 2021. Since that announcement, it has been postponed again, this time to September. Time will tell whether the club can hold on to it.

365 sports cars you have to drive

This postponement issue also affects international events. An example is the Mille Miglia (1000 miles) rally in Italy, which is usually held in May. Last year they were able to hold the rally in October. For 2021, it has been postponed a month to June. Another example is the Goodwood Members Meeting, a British extravaganza that usually takes place in late March or early March each year. Like some other events, it has been pushed back more than once, first through May and now through October, all due to ongoing government restrictions on large gatherings.

At least two annual events are far enough away for the organizers to stick to their traditional calendar for now. The Woodward Dream Cruise, which was canceled in 2020, is slated for its traditional August date in 2021. The Pebble Beach Concours has also published its event dates for 2021, also in the usual August time window. It remains to be seen whether the accompanying auctions can hold live events in nearby Monterey at this time.

NAIAS Detroit. The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), also known as the Detroit Auto Show, has been canceled for 2021. Instead, organizers announced an auto-centric “Bridge to the Future” event, Motor Bella, scheduled for September 21-26 at the M1 concourse in Pontiac, Michigan. Photo: NAIAS.

Smaller events can flourish

One of the challenges for all of the shows and auctions we’ve mentioned so far is the amount. It’s ironic that the more popular the event (the bigger it is), the more difficult it becomes to enforce the necessary social distancing. Conversely, the smaller local events have felt empowered as gatherings can still take place while the risks are minimized.

For example, a local Cars & Coffee event on Sunday morning where two dozen vehicles could be attracted if held in a large enough parking lot enables cars to create a distance between art and spectators in order to socially distance themselves. I personally know of some smaller and local outdoor shows that are still on the right track for late March or early March. It is important to add that local regulations such as social distancing and the wearing of masks at these events are enforced.

This may also apply to tours. Some clubs have one-day tours that start in a parking lot and leave everyone in their cars. The lead car drives off first, everyone else follows, and the participants travel the landscape with the safety and comfort of their own vehicle. At a predetermined location, e.g. B. in a park, everyone unpacks the picnic lunch they have brought with them and chats with others while keeping a distance of two meters. It can be a win-win situation if the group stays small enough.

A classic Ford Mustang basks in the evening sun during the Allen Park Downtown Development Authority's Classic Car Show on June 19, 2019. The annual show in Allen Park, Michigan attracts collectors and car enthusiasts from all walks of life.A classic Ford Mustang basks in the evening sun during the Allen Park Downtown Development Authority’s Classic Car Show on June 19, 2019. The annual show in Allen Park, Michigan attracts collectors and car enthusiasts from all walks of life. Photo: Carl Anthony.

Go forward

If you’re as worried as I am about getting that old iron out of the garage and hitting the streets again, my advice for now is: think small. Above all, discover local shows. While they are likely to hpen to a reduced extent, they are much less likely to be canceled immediately. Find out what your local auto club has planned (and if you don’t belong to a local club, join one today – the benefits are innumerable).

My current approach is to go through the national calendar and check the dates. I’ve already made hotel reservations for an event in Pennsylvania, but I’ve also made sure the hotel room can be canceled up to 48 hours prior to arrival so that I’m covered. If it is not feasible for you to travel, you can always go and do “auto-spotting”. To my amazement I always have find the most excitingG cars at nearby parking lots and petrol stations.

In the meantime, as mentioned at the start, you can always go for a solo run (or grab your best buddy, assuming he’s part of your inner pandemic circle). Be smart, stay safe, be patient and soon we will all be enjoying our wonderful car hobby again.

Richard Reina is the Product Training Director for CARiD.comand the expert for the classic car and collector car market based in Automoblog. He enjoys restoring and driving old cars, with a special love for everything Italian. Richard is the author of The collector car hobby, a guide to finding and enjoying the classic car of your dreams.

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