Keith Martin’s Guide to Car Collecting, 2nd Edition
Keith Martin’s Guide to Car Collecting, 2nd Edition. Click image to enlarge

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By Russell Purcell

Keith Martin is one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of car collecting, so when a book carries his name in the title you know that the knowledge it contains is well worth the $27.50 purchase price.

Much of Mr. Martin’s wisdom has been acquired through his involvement in the publishing world, as Keith is the publisher of one of the bibles of this segment of the automotive industry, Sports Car Market. He is also a noted automotive journalist, television host, Speed Channel commentator, and is the “go-to” guy when it comes to vehicle authentication and appraisals.

Keith has over forty years of experience devoted to what some might see as a lavish hobby, but for many of the players, collecting automobiles is a business, and at times, an incredible investment.

Keith’s latest effort is titled Keith Martin’s Guide to Car Collecting, 2nd Edition. It’s hot off the press so most of the valuations, contacts and stories are current, making this a very economically relevant guide to what is happening in the collector car marketplace.

Making use of his many friends, associates and industry contacts Keith has managed to pool together a truly incredible amount of knowledge and pack it in a tidy, well-organized, and easy to read format. As a bonus, you will find a comprehensive price guide that is worth the book’s cover price alone, as well as a very handy resource section that lists the contact information for major car clubs around the world, as well as a glossary of the most common terms used by members of the car collecting community.

The reader is given a host of valuable tips and strategies throughout the book which should take some of the mystery out of this obviously growing hobby. Armed with this information many neophyte car collectors should be able to navigate their way to a deal, and hopefully, avoid some of the major pitfalls.

A quick look at the most prominent auction companies analyzes both their strengths and weaknesses, and reveals that you need to do your homework if you are looking to sell (or purchase) a collector vehicle at an auction, as many of them are marques, model, or period specific.

Martin uses his Sports Car Market Platinum database to comprise a section to analyze the financial state of the hobby. Lists include all the cars in the past year that sold for over a million dollars; the Top 1,000 Sales by Price; the Top 1,000 Sales by Marques; Top 100 Muscle Car Sales; and the Top 100 Corvette Sales (Keith also publishes Corvette Market). Two historical lists put things in perspective: All-Time Top 10 Sales (the #1 entry is the aforementioned 1957 Ferrari Testa Rosa that sold this past year) and Sales Results by Vehicle Era (2002-2008).

The section of the book I enjoyed most is a listing of “The 1,000 Top Sales of 2008-09.” Spanning nearly two dozen pages this list is comprised of the top five per cent of collector cars sold at auction in the last year (based on pool of approximately 20,000 vehicles), and is arranged by price. Martin provides us with the year, make and model of each car on the various lists as well as their sale prices, followed by the details of the auction where each was sold (date, lot number, and location). The top position for the year was held by an original 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa that commanded U.S.$12,402,500, and it wasn’t even red! At the other end of this list is a 1969 Dodge Daytona 440 2-door that fetched US$173,250. Ferrari models dominated the top ten (5 units), and the marques represented 20 per cent of the listings in the top 500.

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