Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Keith Koscak, a Car Specialist with Auctions America, to discuss the state of the Corvette secondary market. Koscak shared with us some of his expert insights on buying, selling, and—most important—enjoying collectible Corvettes in today's post-recession economy.
VETTE Magazine: Has the Corvette market recovered to its pre-2009 levels?
Keith Koscak: I certainly think it's picked up over the course of the last few years, especially for good-quality examples.
VM: Which Corvette models are currently performing strongest?
KK: Corvettes are pretty correlated to the overall market: High-horsepower cars, well-documented cars, survivors, and low-production examples do best.
When it comes to buying, our advice is to always buy the best example you can of the car you want. For example, if you want a '63, try to buy a fuelie.
VM: How do customs—including Vetterods, race cars, and highly modified late models—fit into the mix?
KK: Vetterods have been doing very well at auction lately. They're easier to drive than the originals. Some guys have one of each, with one built as the "modernized" version, for driving, and the other kept original, as an investment.
In terms of bidding, it's easier to predict what a stock car will bring. It's harder to speculate on customs, because you never know if someone will like the specific combination of paint, wheels, and such.
People are usually more likely to buy an original car as an investment, a Vetterod as a "personal" buy.
VM: Was the high price paid for a Corvette at Auctions America's Auburn (Indiana) event ($123,750 for a '63 fuelie coupe) pretty typical for a car of that year and level of rarity?
KK: It's definitely good money, and in keeping with a couple of split-window fuelies we've sold over the past year, which went for 100 to 130 thousand. It's at the upper end of the range.
VM: Would you expect to see a Corvette go for more than the $3.2 million recently paid for a '67 L88 (at Mecum Dallas)?
KK: That's a pretty special car, and a very strong price. Probably nothing outside of a Grand Sport or a Heritage Center car will top it.
I don't know that you'd have seen that figure three or four years ago, though it would definitely have been a seven-figure car.
VM: Can you recommend any "sleeper" models to someone who might be looking to buy a Corvette as an investment?
KK: It's extremely hard to do that. We always recommend that you buy what you like. That will most likely lead you to be more diligent in finding the right car for yourself. You might as well get something you can enjoy while you own it—not just a car you'll lock away in a garage.
VM: Aside from the Callaway and ZR-1 models, do you think the C4 will ever be considered an investment-quality car?
KK: I think they're fun drivers. Whether they'll ever turn out to be investment-quality, I don't know. Maybe a ZR-1 or Grand Sport, maybe a Pace Car—but it would have to have low mileage, and you'd have to put it away for a while. Unlike with older Vettes, the high production numbers will work against their value.
VM: Do you expect to see C5 and, especially, C6 prices take a precipitous drop now that the '14 Stingray has officially hit the market?
KK: As is the case with any new model, it does affect the value. Guys want the latest and greatest.
We have seen pretty good results with the C6 ZR1s at auction: $77 to 80 thousand for '09 models with low miles, so they've held their value pretty well.
VM: What's your advice for someone who's looking to buy or sell at auction for the first time?
KK: Our Car Specialists are immersed in the hobby. We attend car shows, trade shows, and other [automotive] auctions all the time. We're all car people, and we're excited about helping you sell your car.
VM: Are any particular events better for selling Corvettes?
KK: We've seen very strong results for Corvettes in Lauderdale and at Auburn Fall. It all depends on the car, and where the seller is located. Shipping costs are always something to consider.
VM: Any final thoughts?
KK: One thing of note: We sold 49 Corvettes worth a total of $2.1 million—for an average of $44 thousand per Corvette—at Auburn. It was also our largest event to date, with 70 thousand in attendance.