Investors with money to burn are falling in love with classic collectible cars.
A Sweet Ride
April 4, 2008
Hot rods are hot investments right now, and that is true for all types of automobiles, from the true hot rod American muscle cars, to classics, antiques and rare sports models of American or European vintage. But the rule of thumb for car collecting is that a person should love cars first and think of them as investments second.
Classic and antique automobile collectors all seem to start their stories in the same way, which is some variation of: I've loved cars all my life, and now I have the resources available to indulge that love.
Notwithstanding the true affection collectors have for their cars, it is also true that classic, antique and rare automobiles have seldom been a better investment than they are today, if the collector has the proper knowledge.
There are a wide range of investment-grade automobiles in existence now, with a style to please all types of enthusiasts. A 1931 Rolls-Royce Phantom II recently brought $412,000 at auction, and a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Cut-Away Autorama Display Car brought $704,000 at the same auction in Tarpon Springs, Fla. And those are just the midrange vehicles.
A purchase price of $270,000 for a new Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano might seem like a lot of money to some, but it is nothing compared with $2 million or more that a classic Ferrari can bring, or the millions that the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900, part of fashion designer Ralph Lauren's extensive car collection, might fetch if he would consider selling it. And the beauty of classic and antique cars is that the value increases with time, rather than diminishing the minute the owner drives away with it.
Before investing in any classic automobile, the potential owner should do a little homework, warns Rob Myers, CEO of RM Auctions, one of the premier automobile restorers and auctioneers in the world, which holds several records for the highest prices ever paid for classic cars. For valued customers, Myers will travel the world to check out potential purchases and his clients express complete trust in his advice. An investor often needs that type of assistance, particularly when he or she is getting started in the world of classic car collecting.
Last spring, RM, based in Chatham, Ontario, was responsible for auctioning the second most valuable car ever sold when its 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Testa Rossa went for $9.3 million at a sale in Maranello, Italy. "The great, rare and beautifully styled classics and sports racers from the '30s through the '50s are continuing to provide great returns on investment," says Myers. In two years, he says, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster jumped in value from $4 million to $6.5 million. A 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Spyder Corsa went from $3.5 million to $4 million, and a 1934 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe DT went from $1.1 million to $1.4 million.
"It is a complex business, but long-term, it can be similar to investing in art. Do not do it unless you love it and understand it, but, if you love it, there are good buys in every sector of automobile collecting," says Myers, who, like many of his clients, started out as a teenager tinkering with cars, repairing older models and piecing together prize possessions.
"Car collecting is not for the typical investor. It is not for someone who just wants to park some money and have it grow. It is for the person who loves cars and wants to drive them and enjoy them," says Myers, who is a car collector himself and recently spent $250,000 on a car in an impulse buy at a London auction.
Myers relates the story of one typical new collector.