Classic Car Auction Yearbook 2013–2014
by Adolfo Orsi and Raffaele Gazzi
At first sight, presenting this sort of material in the form of a printed book, as opposed to a database in electronic format, seems anachronistic. This book shows that data can be beautiful—and that flipping pages may be a more desirable way to graze and digest data.
All results are individually listed alphabetically by marque. Each entry includes the year, model, coachbuilder, chassis number, steering (rhd/lhd), the price estimate set by the auction house, the hammer price in GBP, USD, EUR, the sale information that includes the date, place and name of the auction house, and a short description. This is thoughtfully supplemented by trending graphs and several “top” listings: the top 250 results of the year, the top 100 from various perspectives, the top 10 cars with extensive descriptions, the top 5 for each year over the last twenty years, then the top 25 over the last twenty years. The market analysis section starts with contributions from four auction houses, ending with the analysis of the two authors.
This annual reference tome was the creation of Adolfo Orsi, Jr. His appreciation for fine collector cars comes as no surprise; he is the grandson of Adolfo Orsi—the industrialist who purchased Maserati in 1937 and was involved with the company until 1968—and the son of Omar Orsi, who was the managing director. In the mid-1980s he decided to specialize in the field of collector cars, organizing auctions in his native Modena, Italy. In analyzing auction results he realized there was no ready source for this data, so eventually he set out to compile it. In 1993, Orsi and his partner Raffaele Gazzi got together with Alberto Bolaffi—of the Bolaffi Ambassador Auction house—to produce the first yearbook. Hagerty Insurance in the US replaced the Bolaffi name for the 2008 edition, but all editions thereafter became the sole production of Historica Selecta SRL, the Italian company founded by Orsi in 1990 and partly owned by Gazzi since 1991 and now sponsored by Credit Suisse.
The quality of the production is evident, not only in its contents, but also in the construction. The glossy paper is held by a robust spine and nearly every page has pictures with captions that start with a reference number that could be found, in bold, within its respective auction result line entry.
From the average enthusiast to the ardent auction follower, this yearbook is very engaging. They say the best technology is the item you never thought you needed, but after you have it, you don’t know how you could live without it (think smartphone). Here is an example where that saying applies to a book.
Copyright 2016, Rubén Verdés (speedreaders.info).
This review appears courtesy of the SAH in whose Journal 273 it was first printed in substantially similar form.