Car Collecting’s POWER PLAYERS
Powers That Be 1993
How to judge the ebb and flow of power, especially in so short a span of time as a year? Power is usually a more ponderous thing, but then again, the past few years have been an experiment in what happens when you keep your finger on the fast-forward button.
After being driven sky-high by speculators a few years ago, prices have since returned to 1988 levels. Enthusiasts are now keeping the market alive, and because of the faltering world-wide economy, they have their pick of once-in-a- lifetime deals. Overall, the trend is towards smaller deals involving cars and vintage racing automobiles. Of course, big deals are still happening, but they are fewer and farther between.
Like the industry, our list of the most influential people is changing, Some auctioneers, brokers, and collectors remain, but some are missing – not dropped off the earth or cast from the fellowship of cars, but simply standing aside this time ‘round to gather their strength and let some new names see the light. Such is the ebb and flow of power in this year of recovery.
In such an unsettled time, choosing a list such as ours is a delicate matter. Lacking omniscience, we judge in human ways – by action, or the lack of it; by magnitude of a project begun or accomplished; and, at times, by smaller things; an incremental movement up or down, judged by jury of peers, words echoing down a thousand miles of telephone line, deciding someone else’s fate.
The goal; a list of 25 of the most powerful people currently operating in the field of old cars. The criteria: Money is not enough, nor is a warehouse full of the finest examples of the artificer’s art. Rather, we have judged power as the combination of activity, knowledge, connections, passion, and the ability to make things happen. Quoting from last year, we have chosen “people whose opinions, thoughts, words, and deeds are the tides and currents of power.”
You’ll notice some changes in the presentation of this year’s list. For example, there are more multiple entries, made up of several individuals that we’ve decided to count as one, having judged that in these particular cases it is not a single individual but the sum of various individuals’ efforts that yields the power. We’ve also deleted the Honorable Mentions list after being told by several people on last year’s list that there is precious little honor in being “mentioned.”
One additional change: Last year we let the alphabet decide who went where. Our information-gathering machinery was still too new to trust it with the task of ranking the 25 most powerful – and it still is, though you’ll notice that this time around the names are no longer ordered by the alphabet. We’re not exactly ready to stand up in front of the whole world and declare that this is the order in which power proceeds. Instead, did this: We talked amongst ourselves and moved names around. We talked to experts around the world and moved the names around some more. And when the talking was done and the deadline upon us, this is the order the names were in.
Too human and fallible a process for you? Write a letter, and maybe next year, when the time comes to complete this list, we’ll call you and ask your advice. Until then, here’s how we see it.
By virtue of his constant innovation, ceaseless travel, worldwide deal-making, and involvement at the most rarified heights of the world of megabuck cars, Don Williams has earned a seat at the head of the table. In 1992, Williams (and his Blackhawk Collection team) bought and sold tens of millions of dollars’ worth of major classics. In addition, he staged four major “salon” events, in which he gathered together some of the world’s greatest classics and took them on the road., elegantly displaying them to enthusiasts and potential buyers in various locales around the world. This year, he’s planning on four to six salon events. He’s also recently opened a million-dollar showroom for the cream of the Blackhawk crop; bought (with Richie Clyne) a Bugatti Royale for an estimated $10 million; put together a complex deal that resulted in the sale of the famed 1930 Bentley “Blue Train” for around $3 million.
North Hollywood, California
Thomas W. Barrett III
Las Vegas, Nevada
Pebble Beach, California
Steve J. Earle
Santa Barbara, California
Highland Park, Michigan