These days, you’d be hard-pressed to name an industry that has not been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Across the globe, companies have had no choice but to adapt to new ways of doing business—all while squinting for light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, many people have also taken up new hobbies in their free time, ranging from cooking and baking to model car collecting.

Whether you’re a seasoned classic car collector or have just gotten into the game, collector car auctions have always been a great resource. Not only can you find some excellent deals at these auctions—but these large events create a fun networking and socialization opportunity for car collectors.

At least, they did until COVID hit. Since the pandemic hit North America, the industry has seen a major shift in how it handles collector car auctions and other such events. Fortunately, despite an initial dip in market sales in early 2020, trends within the collector car industry are looking up. A lot of this is due to auction houses and other platforms moving their auctions to other formats, such as online or even over-the-phone.

Initial Effects of COVID on Collector Car Auctions

Early in 2020, the industry wasn’t impacted much by COVID at all, despite the fact that the virus had already begun taking its toll overseas. While auction sales were down slightly from 2019’s numbers, it briefly appeared that the pandemic might not affect the industry too significantly as large, in-person auctions continued across the United States and Canada.

By April, though, reality struck when many American cities and Canadian provinces began strict lockdowns in an effort to slow down the spread of the virus. As a result, many collector car auctions were postponed or outright cancelled—including the landmark Monterey Car Week, which is typically held in August each year.

Adapting and Overcoming

Fortunately, the collector car market is not one to stay stagnant for long. Auction houses have been quick to adapt to the changing needs of the industry, especially in COVID times. Many auction centres began moving their auctions to strictly online formats, which has proven to be quite successful (all things considered).

Meanwhile, platforms that were already offering online model car auctions before the pandemic saw a massive spike in traffic and popularity. One such platform known as “Bring a Trailer” reported hitting record traffic numbers on the site shortly after lockdowns began. Ever since, this platform has become the go-to for online collector car auctions, with more than 1,220 vehicles listed for auction in May alone.

While it may have taken a bit longer for “traditional” auction houses to catch up to established online platforms like Bring a Trailer, it seems that most of them have figured out a way to continue business. The Toronto Collector Car Auction, for example, was successfully conducted in an online format for the first time in 2020. Because of all this ingenuity and adaptation, collector car auction sales remained surprisingly strong and consistent throughout 2020.

What Does the Future Look Like for Car Auctions?

Only time will tell what the future of collector car auctions will look like. With mass COVID vaccinations now rolling out across the globe, many are hopeful that the industry will soon be returning to those exciting, in-person auctions. Of course, because it is not yet known whether mass-produced COVID vaccinations will actually prevent the spread of the virus, everybody is being encouraged to continue social distancing protocols even after receiving their vaccines.

Still, a number of major auction houses are optimistic that in-person auctions may continue as early as June of 2021. Whether or not this comes to fruition, of course, will be dependent on many factors.

The Bottom Line on COVID and Collector Car Auctions

2020 proved to be an interesting year for model/classic car collectors—but overall, the industry has remained strong. And while nobody knows exactly when in-person car auctions will begin to take place again on a widespread level, online platforms have made it possible for sales to continue.

Looking for more information on protecting and caring for your model car collection? Our experienced and knowledgeable team at Wayfarer Insurance Group is always here to help. You can also check out our blog to stay on top of all the latest industry updates as they happen!

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