David Gooding fell in love with classic cars as a child. Now his auction business turns over $120 million.
In just a short period, David Gooding has taken the collector car auction business to record levels.
The founder and president of the California-based Gooding and Company has quickly established a reputation as one of the most knowledgeable appraisers of top-end classic cars, advising many well-heeled collectors in rare models and handling large estate sales.
Last year, Gooding and Company realised more than $US131 million ($122 million) in collector car sales and achieved 37 world auction records, including $US16.39 million for the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa prototype, a new benchmark for a car sold under the hammer.
But for David Gooding, this is all a long way from an early interest in old cars.
''My dad was the curator of Harrah's Automobile Collection in Reno, Nevada, and I learnt to drive on his rare 1913 Mercer Raceabout,'' Gooding says.
''I just grew up with the most amazing collector cars and have had a love of them since.''
He began his career with Christie's international motor car department more than 20 years ago and, under his guidance over 11 years, the auction at Pebble Beach Concours developed into the world's premier classic car sale event.
When promoted to managing director of the department, he was made responsible for overseeing automotive auctions in the US, England and Europe, before taking a similar role at competitor RM Auctions for three years. In 2010, Gooding brokered the private sale of one of the world's most valuable cars, the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe.
''My team and I have worked very hard to establish strong relationships with many families with large collections but it's not just about money - we respect their privacy and we've gained their trust,'' Gooding says.
Does he expect the significant gains in top-end classic cars in recent years to continue against a background of growing concern at the world's financial woes?
''I don't like to recommend cars purely for investment,'' he says. ''Apart from the super-wealthy, many of my buyers are just diehard car enthusiasts with a passion for the rare automobile.
''Having said that, they do perform quite well as investments and people are putting more and more money into the really desirable cars at the top end of the market.
''How long will it last? If I had a crystal ball I would probably auction that as well, but I don't see the situation changing really soon - prices should remain.''
In recent years, cashed-up buyers from China have become more evident and Gooding sees this as a growing trend.
''Yes, they have become quite active, but they're collecting quite different cars,'' he says. ''They like big American cars like Packards and Buicks, which have not been doing as well in recent times, so they could well lift prices here. They like large Rolls-Royce Phantoms from the 1930s as well.''
Gooding suggests that while the record price for the 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa was ''breathtaking'', he believes the car truly deserved it.
''I think we'll look back in time and see it as a great buy - I see that car being worth $20 million in a short period of time,'' he says. ''Rare Ferraris like the 250 GTOs will just continue to creep up in price.''
''You have to buy the right model - rare Alfa Romeos from the 1930s will continue to be strong, along with certain Mercedes, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce and Bentley models [as well as] rare Astons, Maseratis and Lamborghinis,'' he says.
What do you have personally?
''I love Edwardian cars and have a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Tourer as well as a 1927 6½-litre Bentley, a Jaguar XK140 Roadster that my parents took on their honeymoon and an Aston Martin DB4 coupe,'' Gooding says.
''After growing up with old cars, I'm a sucker for original paint and the smell of original interiors.''