What is a classic car?

Classic cars are things of beauty, to those who love them. This must be one of the most specialist and subjective of all collectibles. There are people who will rave about a 1975 Fiat 126, but not look twice at an Aston Martin DB5.

To define the term ‘classic car’ is to open a whole can of worms. Roughly speaking any car built between 1940 and 1980 (i.e. at least 30 years old) with a reasonable fan base and cult status can be referred to as a classic. After this time cars may be called ‘modern classics’, but think of a car made before the 40s and we’re getting into the realms of ‘vintage’.

Are classic cars good investments?

The quick answer to this question is ‘if you like it’. Do not think that you can buy a classic for a good price, stick it in your garage for ten years, and then sell it on for a profit. That’s just not how it works. Part of the value of classic car investments is the joy and love of owning a piece of motor vehicle history.

Having said that, with a rundown 1960-1963 Ferrari California SWB carrying a price tag in the region of £2.5 million, there are obviously some people out there who are doing very well thank you. The thing is, those people are, almost without exception, classic car enthusiasts. The example of the Ferrari California which cost around £1 million to restore to its original glory, meaning there’s more money in restoration than in ownership which is a constant concept throughout investment.

With such passion and subjectivity involved in the market, prices are very difficult to estimate with accuracy. Something that might be scrap metal to someone is worth a fortune to another. It could be that some more day-to-day supercars would make a better investment. A 1982-1987 Porsche 944 will set you back around a grand in rough condition but be worth £6,000 to £7,000 with low miles and when fully restored. Once again, the profit is in the skilled work of the restorer.

Classic car investment rules

  1. The car must look good. Timeless aesthetic appeal. They have to look cool!
  2. The car should be manufactured in limited numbers;
  3. The car should be powerful;
  4. The car should be the last and best of its model;
  5. Maybe known to be in classic movies or driven by famous people;

There are classic car funds out there. One of the more famous has as its member the drummer from Pink Floyd, Nick Mason. This is a £30 million fund with a list of 25 cars it plans to target, including the Ferrari 250 GTO and Aston Martin DB4 Zagato. The Ferrari 250 GTO sells for between $25m and $30m. The fund requires a minimum investment of $500,000.

So, investing in classic cars is something that is probably best left to the enthusiast, and maybe it’s better that way. It would be a shame to lock these beautiful testaments to engineering away in storage in the pursuit of hard cash. Leave them to those who will love and cherish them, and hopefully even take them out for a spin from time to time.

Alternative investments

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Brazil property

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Classic car investments

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