Practical Classics (UK)

'I get too emotionall­y involved with cars'


'I’ve made some kind of profit on just nine of them’

Being able to value classics, and being a long-time follower of the market, is one thing. Being able to make money on them is quite another. I draw this conclusion after a chat with a friend who said he’d lost money on every car he’d ever bought (not the first time I’d heard that). Surely from my lofty – ha-ha! – perch, I must coin it regularly?

I did have a few tales of good deals, which made him think I should have become a dealer. I’d always had the gut instinct that I wasn’t cut out for that as I tend to get too emotionall­y involved with the cars I buy. But on a rainy day and with a fresh mug of tea, I decided to have a look at the numbers behind my life in old cars. One way or another I’ve owned 55 cars over the years, and still have four of them, so can’t say which side of the line they’ll fall. Out of the remaining 51,

I’ve made some kind of profit on just nine of them. Which isn’t bad, but hardly the basis for a career. Especially as only two of the profits came anywhere near what might count as a week’s wages.

I suspect the successful dealers – even the ones who are true died-in-the-wool enthusiast­s – are those able to flick a switch in their head and see numbers where the rest of us just see curves and chrome.

So, while I always knew I was happier

(and very lucky) to be writing about classics rather than trying to buy and sell them, at least

I have the evidence to support that choice.

A profit on 17.6 per cent of the cars I’ve sold? I’d probably be sleeping in an unsold one by now…

Russ Smith has been following the classic car market for more than two decades and contribute­s to Practical Classics, Classic Car Weekly and Classic Cars.

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