For luxury goods investors, high-end art sales tend to grab the biggest headlines. But with automobiles once again racing into the No. 1 slot among best-performing collectibles last year, some have questioned whether the industry will be able to repeat its success 2016.
Jack Nerad, executive market analyst with Kelley Blue Book, predicts that high-end autos will continue to be good investments, thanks to more categories of collectors.
There are at least three different types of collectors, Nerad told CNBC’s “Fast Money” recently. These include wealthy collectors, people who wanted cars as a child but didn’t have enough money to buy them, and speculators.
Nerad said many collectors in the second and third categories are eager to demonstrate a high net worth. And despite a rocky start for the markets this year, he added that “the super rich will continue to drive high-priced cars the way they wear high-priced suits and watches.”
That bodes well for Brett David, CEO of Prestige Imports and Lamborghini Miami, one of the nation’s top luxury auto dealers. David’s career accomplishments include selling nearly 2,000 Lamborghinis, dealership sales totaling nearly $2 billion, and selling a single Pagani Zonda sports car for $3.4 million.
Recently, David met with “Fast Money” Trader Tim Seymour to test out a Lamborghini Aventador Roadster. The car retails for around $450,000, and is a barometer of how luxury car sales are faring in the U.S. amid global worries.
“From our side of the business at Prestige Imports we’ve seen a significant rebound in the Miami market. Just last year alone, we did $105 million in luxury auto sales, which leads us to believe that the sector is thriving,” David said.
David credits a strong Lamborghini market to a balanced mix of domestic and international demand. For instance, when the U.S. went through the recent recession, the South American, Pacific, and European markets picked up the slack.
“We saw other markets around the world coming to America and taking advantage of our dollar, of the economic situation, and now that’s slowly been able to filter out,” he said.
In the last 24 months, David said his company has seen a rise in domestic sales. “We’ve seen a shift from foreign buyers to the local-grown attorney, doctor, business entrepreneur, real estate mogul as our core consumer,” he added.
As a whole, Lamborghini had a banner 2015. The brand sold a record 3,245 units globally, a 28 percent increase from the prior-year total of 2,530 units (its previous yearly sales record).
In addition to growing global interest, RM Sotheby’s vice president and car specialist Alain Squindo noted that the luxury auto market has been benefiting from a youth movement of sorts.
“The bidding audience is amplified by younger participants with an interest in sport and exotic cars. are now coming into their own as proper collectors and are complementing the established enthusiasts of years past. Add to that a highly educated consumer, who analyzes the very same factors one would for coins or paintings, from provenance to condition,” he said. “We’re left with a collector car market that is exceptionally vibrant.”
David noted a change in the type of collectors that attend high-end auto auctions. He told CNBC that investors are looking for alternatives “because they know that the stock market has instability, real estate prices are rising and they are looking for another asset. That’s feeding the want for these vehicles.”