This is proving to be another amazing and intriguing year for the classic car hobbyist. We are seeing more growth in values, but what we are really seeing growth in is in activity. Enthusiasts and investors alike continue to invest in classic cars. Enthusiasm for the classic car hobby remains undiminished, and talk of cars as an investment class is reaching new highs.
Prices are rising even when supply outstrips demand. We are seeing the supply of some cars — particularly, Porsche and Ferrari — explode, with the availability of some models almost doubling. This certainly has seemed to affect the prices, which in many cases have doubled — just take the Ferrari Testarossa as an example: their prices have soared in the last year, with some examples fetching over £300K on the international markets.
Overall, the classic car market in New Zealand keeps advancing. One thing is for certain — prices for good-quality cars continue to soar. The popularity of classic bikes also continues to strengthen, as do values for the best bikes. And we’re experiencing a rekindled enthusiasm for beautiful pre-war cars, and the evidence of this in the form of increased enquiry levels. Will these old girls bounce back on a more permanent basis? In general, it’s unlikely, but we feel that the best and most beautiful are once again finding some of their traction in the market.
One could conclude that the best examples of pretty much any marque and model are the real winners when it comes to value increases. Enthusiasts are willing to pay top dollar for the very best. It’s a simple theory, really: own the very best, and you have a good investment.
Cars from the ’80s and ’90s are being bought more enthusiastically this year by a ‘new’ generation of buyers who are forming their automotive habit in this era. Cars of the ’80s and ’90s are affordable classics, and we are noticing an increase in the number of people wishing to buy cars from this period. No doubt we are seeing some portfolio diversification as those who have traded out of more expensive classics begin to look for opportunities on the ground floor.
Investing in a classic car
Having satisfied the practical and financial preconditions of ownership, your serious homework begins. Read as much as you
specification, and many will have benefited from well-known modifications to mitigate period flaws or improve reliability. Few will have been converted to run on unleaded petrol, for example, and some will have been fitted with electronic ignition, although such conveniences are less serviceable than their mechanical predecessors.
As your preferences narrow, join the relevant owners’ club or the Vintage Car Club. Read the club magazines, attend club gatherings, and speak to experienced owners. Being enthusiasts by definition, clubs are invariably keen to encourage new blood and pass on useful knowledge.
Read vehicle magazines; do not just look at the photos. All knowledge is power, and everything you learn will help you assess a car’s desirability. That said, when it does come time for you to view a prospective vehicle, it will do you no harm to be accompanied by a genuinely knowledgeable friend or acquaintance. Modern used-car inspection services are not helpful when it comes to classics — refer to specialist classic car garages.
Don’t be a goose. Do not buy classic cars sight unseen or from flea market–type auctioneers — not unless you really know enough about the car you’re looking at, or you are looking for a project, as that’s what you are likely to get from such auctions in the majority of cases. Remember — classics that don’t sell are usually the ones that surface at these auctions.
A proper test drive and inspection are vital. Your prior research should prepare you to look out for model-specific problems or worrisome noises, and the more cars that you examine, the more you will be able to distinguish the usual rattles from the sounds of a worn engine, driveline, or suspension.
Some faults may be remedied relatively easily, but significant rust suggests that the whole car has been poorly maintained. Alarm bells should certainly sound if you find a ‘ freshly restored’ car with shiny exterior paint and moss on the inside of the windows. Missing trim is another no-no; some items are hard to source even for models otherwise well served by spares suppliers and remanufacturers.
Whatever you do, take your time and resist the temptation to buy the first car you see — in the long-nurtured eagerness to obtain a dream machine, this common advice is often ignored. However, in the world of classic cars you may be certain of two things: first, you will eventually find a better example, and, second, it will be worth waiting for.
Safe driving … until next month!