He never saw this coming. Embedded in the classic car culture Matt Maisano, owner of Motorcar Manor a premier collectible automobile storage facility in Ramsey, NJ, has built his business by being a forward thinking guy. Fortunately, He has always strived to be prepared for the unexpected.

Let’s see what he is preparing for now.


Collectible car culture in a pandemic –

An insider’s perspective

Tell us about Motorcar Manor?

I love classic cars. Whether I own the car or someone else does, I love everything about it. If I did not own Motorcar Manor, I would visit it whenever I could. Other than a world class museum, where else could you enjoy such an eclectic collection of automotive art?
I appreciate the joy each of these rare, beautiful and athletic works of art and genius conveys to its owner. As a business, MCM stores all clients’ vehicles the same as if they were my own. Yes, MCM is a business, but for me it is a passion.

At MCM we store special vehicles. We assist people in buying and selling vehicles. We assist in providing vehicles for film and magazine placement. We recently placed vehicles in The Irishman and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

How has Covid-19 affected your business?

Initially it really has not impacted us. We’re still storing people’s cars because the weather here in the Northeast until recently has been pretty gloomy.

That said Regardless of weather, some clients are like clockwork. End of March the car gets detailed and leaves to return in the fall.

However, some cars are staying longer. This impacts MCM because people usually get a premium detailing before taking the car. Detailing is an important source of income. Frankly, I think until people get a better understanding of the virus some people will choose not to expose their prized vehicles to other people.

As well our vehicle sales have taken a hit. I believe the decline in sales reflects people’s concerns about social distancing. I believe that will soon change for the better as people become more comfortable in knowing how to safely interact.

Frankly, some people may just choose to leave cars here until some kind of normalcy returns. Also, I have a couple of clients that are snow birds. I’m willing to bet those guys are not coming back any time soon.

We won’t feel the impact until June or July.

How do you see Covid-19 impacting auctions?

Through March maybe 10 to 12 different live auctions were cancelled. Some of the higher end auctions have gone the online route. RM did an online auction and was decently successful. They had more potential bidders than they had last year, which was just a normal auction. They did maybe $13.7 million worth of cars, which is lower than what they sold in the past, but the number and quality of vehicles was lower.

I think that we will see more and more online auctions. Not just from the big name guys either. New companies will start popping up because the cost is significantly less to do it online than in person. Also, as a society we are getting increasingly lazy. In the world of Amazon Prime, The new generation of buyers is just far less willing to wait months or years for the right car. We want it yesterday.

Interestingly, Bring A Trailer has done very well. Obviously it depends on the particular vehicle, but they’ve done very well auction wise.

Why do you think Bring A Trailer is doing well?

It’s primarily that Bring A Trailer constantly has auctions. Today, nobody’s doing anything right now. We’re all home. We’re all on the computer if you have a job. So every now and then if you take a break you’re gonna go on BAT. There’s no one looking over your shoulder saying hey, what are you doing right now? And we’re all dreaming of the day that we can go out to shows or drives.

As well, I think it has to do with the age group of the people buying and selling and the type of cars that BAT typically sells. European cars and Japanese Imports even newer domestics have definitely been more popular. Vehicles 25 years old and newer are drawing great “Newtimer” interest. It’s not necessarily that they’re higher value than the older cars. They’re just more popular right now with the age group of people in their late 20s to early 50s that is not as affected by this virus economically.

Based on their life experiences this “Youngtimer” generation of buyers appears to be getting comfortable with a new norm where something bad will happen and then life will get better again. The virus really hasn’t impacted them as it has the older demographic.

With all that is going on, if you’re over 65 with your money is in a 401k you are probably not thinking this is a great time to spend $100,000 on a collectible car.

Could you see live auctions going away?

I think you’ll see a couple of live auctions go away. However, it’s never going to be fully online. Part of the reason live auctions will continue is that auction houses bank on these auctions being a destination.
They make it a weekend long party. Companies like Barrett-Jackson and Mecum will continue live events. Even the higher-end auctions like Bonhams, RM and Gooding want you there. They want friends around you to push you to buy a car. They want you to get boozed up, so you make bad decisions. You know, that’s just all part of it and getting caught up in the whole atmosphere of things.

Have car sales suffered during the pandemic?

Older iron was dwindling down in popularity already, but the age group that would be interested is the one impacted by this virus. Most are already on fixed incomes with money set aside to purchase a vehicle. But now they don’t want to go anywhere. They don’t know what’s going to happen to them. They don’t know what’s going to happen to their loved ones.  Fewer in that generation are at ease making a big expenditure on a classic car with an uncertain future.

However, especially for the new generation of buyers based on their “bad right now, but back to better later” mentality the current pandemic might be an opportunity. Some may view this period as a market correction with a price spike awaiting in the somewhat near future much like after the stock market crash in 2008.

Will Covid-19 affect how you interact with a client’s vehicle?

I have asthma. When a customer brings in a car, we allow them to pull it into the building. Before they exit I have them roll down the windows. I then let the car sit for 24 hours before I go inside. Even then when I do enter the vehicle I’m putting down plastic on their seat. I’m wearing gloves and I’m wearing a mask. That’s just how I’m doing it when receiving a car.


On the personal side, how has the new normal impacted your home life?

I am trying to help out at home. My wife, Jill, is working from home. We have three kids, two girls 9 and 2 and a boy 6. Honestly, I don’t know if I’m making things better. With home schooling, I’m trying. At best, I’m like the gym instructor filling in for a missing teacher. We try to get their schooling done by one o’clock. Then I try to bleed off some of their energy. You know like, hey let’s run around the yard. Does nothing. At times in desperation I put up one of those bouncy houses in my living room.

I haven’t had a haircut since the last week of February. I will not take my hat off.

It’s crazy.