Courtesy of Gooding & Co.
The gig: David Gooding, 45, is president and founder of Gooding & Co. in Santa Monica, which sells classic cars — from antiques such as a 1912 Model T Speedster to hot sports cars such as a 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder — typically at auctions.Hot market: “We have seen extraordinary prices and growth in our market,” he said. “It is not just a few buyers driving the price up but rather many buyers from all over the globe.”
Gooding’s company sold 297 collector cars last year, averaging $441,218 each. Among those sales was a Duesenberg Model J long-wheelbase coupe that sold for $10.3 million, the most expensive American car ever sold at auction.
Two years ago, he brokered the sale of a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic to an undisclosed private collector for a reported sum of more than $30 million. And at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance car auction last August, the company sold a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa prototype for $16.4 million.
Generally, he said, European cars get the most money in the collectible market. But some landmark American cars also do well.
Getting into the business: Gooding said the trade is part of his bloodline. His father and an uncle are passionate about cars, and his father was once curator for Harrah’s Automobile Collection in Reno and other automobile museums.
Gooding, who has philosophy and economics degrees from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., began his career with Christie’s International Motor Cars department, where he was promoted to managing director responsible for automotive auctions and staff in the United States and Europe.
He also was president of competitor RM Auctions for three years before founding Gooding & Co. in 2003. Its first auction was in 2004 at Pebble Beach.
“Unlike much art, these are three-dimensional objects,” Gooding said. “You can sit in them, touch them. You can fire them up and hear their sounds. People really get emotional about cars.”
Biggest thrill: The Bugatti sale. Gooding said the car is “one of the world’s most significant and valuable automobiles” and one of just three Atlantics built by Bugatti. The auto had been in a private collection and rarely seen during the past four decades, he said. It now is on display at the Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard.
The auction payoff: The company receives a 10% commission from the seller and a 10% premium from the buyer for marketing the car worldwide and putting on the auction. “If the car does not sell, there is no charge to seller and obviously no sales commission,” Gooding said.
“The auction process is such a good way to get the maximum number of people to view your object and to bid the price up,” he said. “It is really good for hard-to-value cars that are unique and special. Even we are surprised these days by what people are willing to pay for some of these cars.”
The buyers: Probably 80% are American, including Latin American clients, and about 10% are European, with the balance from Asian countries. Some are quite wealthy, Gooding noted, and for some, the cars represent a large portion of their net worth.
Gooding’s garage: Gooding has several collectible cars, including a 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and a 1914 Rolls-Royce.
“We drive the Rolls a lot, around the neighbourhood and with the kids — we’ll cruise comfortably at 50 mph on modern roads, but it wasn’t driven that fast when it first hit the bad roads of almost 100 years ago,” he said.
His primary car: Gooding and his wife, Dawn, and their two children tool around in a Lexus LX 470 sport utility vehicle as their everyday ride.
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