The Road to Good Fortune
Stephen Worthy explains how classic car collecting can be seriously good business.
Some people accrue Fabergé eggs, others Patek Philippe watches, but little beats the allure of classic cars. Few investments give such visceral thrills while acting as a ticket to a world of high-end events. Head to July's Goodwood Festival of Speed – now one of the UK's premier summertime social engagements – or California's famed Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance the following month, and you'll see how the buying and selling of classic cars is very big business.
In January, a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale – once owned by car design guru, Battista Pininfarina – sold for an eye-watering $8 million in Arizona. But the road to successful collecting is a long one, with bumps along the way. The primary prerequisite is passion. The best collectors know their subject. If you are starting out, join an owners club and attend shows and auctions. Whether it's Porsche, Ferrari or Shelby Cobra, owners are your greatest database. They may even know the provenance of cars you've earmarked to buy.
Cars aren't buy-and-forget investments. Regular maintenance is essential and they don't take kindly to sitting in garages. Future buyers look unfavourably on anybody skimping on service or who've left cars languishing under tarps. Supercars and prestige cars are complex and expensive to maintain. Find a good independent classic car specialist and build a relationship. Initially, it may cost more, but you'll benefit long term from their knowledge… and contacts, when it comes to selling.
To protect your collection, storage is essential – some cars fall apart at the first sign of moisture. Choose a heated, dehumidified garage or consider specialist storage firms, who will not only keep it secure, but can also maintain and even deliver it to you for your weekend fun fix.
Looking to restore? Don't do it on the cheap. And be careful of modifications. While the Porsche market generally allows mild tinkering, the opposite is true for Ferrari. An ill-judged tweak could knock five figures off the hammer price. There are other things to consider – choosing left-hand-drive cars willopen you up to more markets when selling.
And when you're ready to sell, says Nathan Chadwick, assistant editor at Modern Classics magazine, there are other factors to bear in mind. "Look at long-term auction trends for vehicles, rather than one-off prices," says Nathan. "It's very easy to see a car go under the hammer for an exorbitant price and think all cars are worth the same. It may just be someone willing to pay over the odds in desperation." Get a specialist to value your cars before selling, he adds. Don't be tempted by dealers or auctions charging the smallest percentage on sales either. Experience counts here.
If you're looking for serious returns, what cars should you be looking at now? "Air-cooled Porsches have bottomed out after the market overheated last year", says Nathan," although the next big thing is BMW M-cars." As with all the biggest sellers, look for low-build numbers, low mileages and excellent paperwork to increase your chances of backing a winner.
Goodwood Festival of Speed runs from 12th - 15th July 2018. Contact your Lifestyle Manager to learn how to make the most of your time there as a Quintessentially member.