S.D. dealership gets plenty of business from overseas enthusiasts
From a dealership surrounded by cornfields in Sioux Falls, S.D., Frankman Motor Company Classics sells collector vehicles to all corners of the United States, and the world.
At any given time, national and international buyers can select from about 100 vintage cars and trucks at Frankman Motor Company Classics; they share space with late-model cars and trucks in another arm of the business. The inventory of collector vehicles ranges from the early 1900s to the 1980s with price tags starting around $10,000 and extending to beyond $100,000. “We have a 1936 Chevy coupe, 1956 Lincoln, we have all the way through the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s… We have muscle cars, we have a 1940 high-end Packard restoration, 1964 – 1965 ’Vettes and very unusual low-mileage cars,” said Chris Quinn, domestic and international sales and marketing consultant for Frankman Motor Company Classics. “Right now, we have a 1982 Mercedes-Benz with just over 16,000 original miles.”
The vehicles of Frankman Motor Company are “get in and drive away” condition. The dealership has a fleet of mechanics and detailers to ensure vehicles are ready them for the road.
“We have a full servicing center,” Quinn said. “They change all fluids and road test them and check operational equipment. Some cars have thousands spent on them in getting them up to our standards for resale.”
Work by the dealership’s master technicians and detailers includes road tests, equipment checks, tune-ups, brake jobs, engine detailing and other work.
All of the company’s inventory comes from the usual sources — live and online auctions, online and print classified ads and phone inquiries. Some vehicles are even driven to the dealership and offered to Quinn on the spot. Other cars come from estates where often times, multiple cars are purchased at once.
“A lot of times, we will buy them in large quantities so we get discount prices that we can pass on to the consumer,” Quinn said.
The vehicles most in demand from the inventory of Frankman Motor Company are muscle cars.
“American muscle cars are probably still what I get more hits on than anything,” Quinn said. “They still have a passionate following with the American public, and a lot of the overseas clientele in Canada and Australia are American muscle car fans.”
There is also a strong international demand for big American luxury cars, Quinn said, noting that many Cadillacs and similar cars from Frankman Motor Company’s inventory go to Europe.
“Sweden and the Nordic countries are big into the cruising cars of the ’50s and ’60s, the Caddies and bigger American cars,” he said. “They like the big-body American cruisers.”
But it’s not just Europeans and Australians who want classic American iron.
“I sell them everywhere: Dubai, Yugoslavia, Russia — it is just nuts.”
Quinn said that demand for pre-1930s cars has slowed in America, but he finds that cars of that era are finding growing interest in Europe.
“There is a market for them overseas,” he said. “We just delivered a 1928 Model A that is going to the U.K. So there is a fascination for those cars in the European countries.”
Quinn estimates 15 percent of his sales are overseas these days, with 3 percent of the total remaining domestic sales being local to his area. Quinn said the sales to international buyers varies with currency exchange rates. When the euro goes up in value compared to the dollar, he gets more calls from Europeans. When the Canadian dollar is more favorable than the American dollar, clients from north of the border start calling with more frequency.
“When the Euro and different denominations of other countries goes up, I can almost expect like clockwork that my phone and e-mail is going to go nuts,” he said. “People are almost rushing you to take their money.
“The timing is important, so it is kind of like being an international stock broker. I watch the markets and know where I am going to put my marketing money. I look at whose money is up and whose money is down and where there is conflict. You have to anticipate where this money is coming from.”
Still, a full 85 percent of car sales are to U.S. hobbyists, some of them with interesting ties to a man who still helps generate interest in American cars, even though those he has passed away.
“I just sold a pinkish ’59 Caddy sedan to a man and his wife in Memphis,” Quinn said. “His wife’s grandmother was Elvis’ nurse, and they lived right there in Graceland. Her grandfather was also the groundskeeper at Graceland for years. They had family connections and they took care of Elvis.
“I also sold Lisa Marie Presley’s husband, Mike Lockwood, a ’62 Lincoln Continental.”
Most customers of Frankman Motor Company aren’t as famous, or have such interesting ties, but Quinn is finding that there is a trend that many new customers share: they are new to collector car ownership. Accommodating such buyers has made Quinn adjust the sales process.
“In the past few years, I have noted that most people, when they go into look at these cars, are inexperienced. They see something and they know they like something, but there is so much lost procedurally when it comes to how to get one.
“So what I try to do, even though I am their sales man, I try to be their purchasing agent, so I help them land on something they are suited for and what is in their budget.”
Quinn chalks up buyers’ search for a trusted sales agent in the purchasing process to the prevalence of internet fraud. He says the fear of getting robbed is an especially great concern for his international clients, who are often sending tens of thousands of dollars overseas. Often, guiding his clients through the buying and shipping process leads to repeat customers who also send their friends to Frankman Motor Company for a collector car.
Regardless of where customers live, Quinn said most buyers are seeking the unmodified cars that Frankman Motor Company generally sells, but he sees that changing in the near future.
“As people continue to age, there are going to be fewer and fewer of them in the market for an original vehicle. The direction I think it’s going is people like the look of the original car, but they like the idea of air conditioning or modern motors and suspension. I think the resto-mod is the wave of the future.”
Until then, Quinn is keeping the dealership’s focus on stock cars, and it’s working. While he usually sells one car at a time, he’s noticed an interesting trend in spite of the improving post-recession economy: people are still investing in old cars instead of stocks, as they began to do during the recession.
“Because of the volatility of the investment marketplace and very minimal money paid out on IRAs, I think people are taking to the classic car market and buying up-and-coming cars and putting them in their collection where they are accruing money faster than the other markets.
“I have purchasing agents buying on behalf of a collector who has $600,000 to spend on vehicles,” Quinn continued. “The buyer is shipping them to a big warehouse, and his client is having them refurbished, serviced and storing them. At the end of a period, the cars are worth quite a bit more money than the portfolios would be in the stock market. So they are looking to a classic car as an investment that doesn’t have a high level of volatility.”
Quinn said many of his customers are able to flip the cars they bought from him after a year or two earlier because values for collector cars are generally increasing.
“The car market is still going up from what I have seen in my business,” he said. “My income, my volume, has not shrunk — it is growing.”
Part of Frankman Motor Company’s growth includes a new 100-car showroom, which will be completed in early 2016. With the company’s physical growth, it plans to expand into consignment offerings, as well. Both moves will certainly bring more eye candy to car shoppers in Sioux Falls and beyond.
“For the classic cars, we already draw visitors who are driving age in high school who stop in fascination and awe with their buds. We are an educational tool for a lot of the locals and even from outside of our area, who come to see the collection — they make it part of their regular routine.
“But the people who are buying the cars are middle-aged and in their senior years. I have clients who are 80 and are still buying cars,” Quinn said. “I just financed a car to a man who is 85 years old. I think these classic cars bring a lot of youth to people. It is medicinal. It keeps them young. It helps alleviate the other ailments in their life. It’s a pretty cool thing.”
About Frankman Motor Company
Frankman Motor Company started in 1988 as a small family business that has grown from an acreage with a converted 2 stall garage as the office to the largest independent used car dealership in a 5 state area with almost 50,000 vehicles sold and over 50 employees.
Frankman Motor Company also has a classic car department. They sell classic, specialty and collector vehicles, with 100 vehicles in stock at all times, They ship vehicles to every state in the US and multiple countries across the globe. They handle vehicles from the teen’s 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. So you are sure to find that classic you’ve always wanted from driver quality cars to show cars and everything in between.
Frankman Motor Company
6874 SD Highway 11
Sioux Falls, SD 57108
Service: (605) 371-1092
For more information call
Chris Quinn / Classic ” Specialist” direct @ (605)201-2109