STATE OF ORIGIN
Nothing is known of its history other than someone famous owned it for a year or two? Well, from the point of a view of the car, probably the former, but, from the viewpoint of resale value, possibly the latter — especially if that famous owner happens to
‘Provenance’, as in the origin or source of something, is a word much used when talking about classic cars. If we have any sense, we ask about a vehicle’s condition, its originality, its history, and its provenance. Provenance is part of the car’s history, and, in this day and age, the idea of provenance is often linked to a famous or celebrity owner. If a car is described as having ‘great provenance’, it often means that someone important has owned the car previously. This gives it added cachet, sometimes disproportionately so. Would it be better, for example, to own a car with full history and for which each of its (nondescript) owners is known since new, or a car in similar condition for which
Some of us might baulk at a car changed from its original golden-brown metallic to a non-factory Chianti red, and converted into a spider body before later having the process reversed again, returning it to a hardtop. That is, unless that car is a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, and its first
In fact, at Villa d’este there was a whole class of vehicles devoted to film stars’ cars, including Clark Gable’s 1953 Jaguar XK120, Marcello Mastroianni’s 1966 Ferrari 330 GTC, and Clint Eastwood’s 1975 Ferrari 365 GT/4 Berlinetta Boxer. But superstar imprimatur does not necessarily mean that it is a superstar car. In October, at the H&H auction
at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, England, the 1972 Rolls-royce Silver Shadow sold new to genius footballer and bon vivant George Best was bought for just £12,320. Where did it all go wrong?
The provenance of a motor car is certainly a very important factor but only when coupled with history, originality, condition, rarity, and desirability. Do not be simply misled by virtue of a car once having had a famous owner. Those famous owners, of course, can provide extra monetary value to a car, but it is knowing which of those famous people are the right ones — Steve Mcqueen seemingly certainly; George Best apparently not so much.
Race cars, too, can owe much of their value to provenance — something driven by Moss, Fangio, Jim Clark, et al. will command a premium, especially if it was a winning car at top events. There is a reason why the top-two prices ever paid at auction belong to the ex– Jo Schlesser, Henri Oreiller, Paolo Colombo, Ernesto Prinoth, Fabrizio Violate 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO (US$38,115,000 on August 14, 2014), and the ex–juan Manuel Fangio, Hans Herrmann, Karl Kling, German-andSwiss-grand-prix-winning 1954 Mercedes-benz W196R (US$29,598,265 on July 12, 2013).
So, make sure you do your homework, and always check the provenance along with the other important factors of a car — if it says the car has been owned by Steve Mcqueen, make sure that there is proof — it could make a lot of difference!