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Wednesday, Feb 8, 2023

Deals on Wheels

The Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. and classic-car enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who figure to be busy when a load of collectibles rolls into the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa this weekend.

Irvine-based auto financing company Woodside Credit LLC is Barrett-Jackson’s preferred lender, a designation it secured after the auctioneer debuted in OC two years ago. Financing for Barrett-Jackson buyers here and in three other locations around the U.S. now accounts for about 15% of Woodside’s portfolio, which is expected to grow to $60 million this year.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Barrett-Jackson—famed for putting “millions of dollars’ worth of classics, exotics, muscle car and contemporary collectibles” on the block—also boosts Woodside’s profile among well-heeled classic car collectors.

“We’ve got access to the events and the clients,” said Mitch Shatzen, executive vice president of Woodside.

That’s important in a market that’s as narrow as it is lucrative.

“We stay in the specific niche of collectibles and classics,” Shatzen said. “A ‘classic’ is any car that’s 25 years old or older. A recent model ‘collectible’ is defined as a car that had an original [manufacturer’s suggested retail price] of $150,000 and fewer than 2,000 a year were sold in the U.S. We stick to those two ends of the spectrum. That’s all we do.”

Barrett-Jackson is expecting a strong run for its three-day event at the fairgrounds this weekend (see sidebar, this page).

“This year’s event is going to be much bigger than last year’s,” Shatzen said. “Barrett-Jackson is a growing portion of our business and a nice component.”

Other sources of Woodside’s business include loans to individuals as wells as others made through dealers across the U.S., including Lamborghini Newport Beach.

Woodside was founded in 2003 by Roger Kirwan, who counts decades of work in the financial services industry, with a focus on lending for recreational and luxury vehicles. He founded Ganis Credit Corp., a consumer lending company, in 1980 in Newport Beach.

“That grew to be a rather large RV-and-boat lending company,” Shatzen said.

Kirwan sold the company to Bank of Boston in a 1995 deal that included an initial price tag of $21.5 million and as much as $14 million in milestone payments.

“Roger always had a passion for the consumer lending business and a passion for cars,” Shatzen said. “He put the two together and started Woodside.”

Woodside’s board of directors has ties to OC and the collectors’ community. Both come in the person of board member General William Lyon, head of William Lyon Homes Inc. in Newport Beach and a well-known collector of classic cars. Lyon’s son, William H. Lyon, also sits on the board,

Woodside’s business model has helped the company develop ties with banks here and across the country, including Plaza Bank in Irvine.

“We are a lender, not a broker,” Shatzen said. “Any Woodside customer initially gets their loan with Woodside. We originate these loans [which] are packaged and sent to banks like Plaza. The borrowers become customers of the bank that we work with. It’s a nice model of delivering loans to banks that need good assets.”

Plaza is one of two local community banks owned by Carpenter Community BancFund, an affiliate of Irvine-based advisory firm, Carpenter & Co. The Carpenter fund also has a controlling interest in Costa Mesa-based Pacific Mercantile Bancorp, and three others in California.

“So potentially there are opportunities to work with other Carpenter banks down the road,” Shatzen said.

Orange County isn’t the only source of business for Woodside.

“[But] it has been a very good market for us,” he said. “There are many collectors locally, and there are individuals that have very nice collections. It’s a passion. It’s a growing part of the automobile industry.”

Part of that is the value carried by classic and collectible automobiles, he added.

“They do a very good job of holding their value or even increasing value,” Shatzen said. “That’s a part of the automobile business that’s very different from the daily-driver auto business.”

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