Invest in the Future - by Buying the Past

Is this Ferrari F355 Berlinetta the Classic Car of your dreams?

A modern classic. Surely a contradiction in terms? Can something be both traditional and yet up to date at the same time?

When it comes to the world of cars the phrase is perfectly parallel parked. Consider the recent sale of a 1936 Mercedes-Benz Roadster which fetched £6.5 million at auction in the US. Given its original purchase price was around one thousand pounds, this represents phenomenal growth by any standards. With figures like these it is easy to see why investors are looking to channel their funds into this market.

The value of most cars will depreciate over time – and this starts almost as soon as you drive out of the dealership. However, like vintage stamps, a good wine or even, these days, vintage star wars toys (unopened of course) your pride and joy could be worth more after a few years. While relatively new in the world of investments, the right cars (emphasis on right) are proving to be very popular with collectors.

And of course it all sounds very straightforward doesn’t it? Buy a car, keep it in your garage for twenty or thirty years, and sell it at auction for sixty times its original cost. Then purchase a bigger house, fancy yacht and even a new car, all from the proceeds. Simple. In the real world however, all investments are inherently risky, and collector cars are no different. Taking time to research and plan can make the difference between making and, losing, large sums of money.

Choose carefully

‘Things of quality have no fear of time’ so the saying goes. Keep this on your mind when choosing the car to put your money on. In other words don't pick anything that wasn't a great car when it was first introduced. “Don't touch anything that wasn't an initial success” says Oren Abadi of Abadi Motors. “After a few decades, a poor quality car will just be an old poor quality car. An old favourite, however, will age gracefully.”

By the same token – older isn't always better. While older vehicles have traditionally occupied a key spot in the classic car market, many of today's popular cars were actually made in the eighties and nineties.

This makes sense, when you consider that those were the formative years for Gen-Xers, who have just come into the cash needed to buy their old dream cars. "For someone from the '80s, (the 1989 Lamborghini Countach) was like a unicorn," said Rick Drewry, American Modern Insurance's senior claims specialist of collectible cars, in an article for Now, that child is in their prime earning years and may just have the money - and the motivation - to own that unicorn.

Depending on the condition of your purchase you also need to be prepared to pay a premium to restore, maintain, garage, transport, and insure your vehicle. Before committing, calculate an estimate of how much you'll spend on your classic car while you wait for it to make your fortune. Go ahead with the purchase only if it looks like you have a fair shot at turning a tidy profit.

Range Rover Mk 1

Audi A2


Top 5 Classic Car Investments

Range Rover Mk 1. The original Range Rover is a solid classic, with older models now changing hands for tens of thousands of pounds. A long production run of 26 years means that there are plenty of later models available.

Audi A2. Audi’s cleverly packaged, supermini-sized A2 was discontinued in 2005 having achieved a production run of only 176,000. Despite its roomy, sophisticated interior, lightweight aluminium construction and low running costs, it was just too pricey. Yet increasing fuel costs have ensured the bold A2 is now very desirable.

MGF. When the MGF debuted in the mid 1990's, the British sports car was reborn. It mixed modern looks with engaging mid-engined handling and open-air thrills, and was much in demand. Later cars had regular steel suspension, but early MGFs with the novel Hydragas set-up looking to be collectors’ items.

Ferrari 355 Berlinetta. Ferrari can trace the success of its current line-up back to the gorgeous 355. This car blended a screaming 40-valve V8 with fine handling, and was also the first Ferrari to feature the F1 paddleshift semi-auto box.

VW Golf GTI MkII. The car that set the hot hatch template is becoming a true classic. Original MkI Golf GTIs are in high demand and are therefore very valuable, so its sibling the even more accomplished MkII, will likely follow suit.

By Tracey McBain