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Click to Enlarge If you are a regular reader of the monthly quality classic car magazines you might have noticed an interesting aspect which has come to the fore over the last two or three years. The investment criteria has taken precedence over the enthusiast element. One large group of classic car magazine publishers in particular has pushed the 'classic cars as investments' proposition to an alarming extent with every issue headlined by some form of frantic endorsement of the next 'must buy' model which if ignored will result in prospective buyers missing out on affordable opportunities! My advice is definitely to ignore such nonsense. These so-called expert pundits know little more (or perhaps even less) than anyone else about which models will remain good 'investments' or not over the coming months and years. In addition the advice offered in regular features by an assembled group of 'experts' is often biased towards the very types of car which they themselves own! This was laughably evident recently when in one leading publication six experts were asked to list their punts as best-buys in various price ranges. Surprise surprise, two of them listed models of cars in the top price range which they own personally! This is a minor form of market manipulation and is not impartial advice from an informed source. In the present economic climate of zero interest rates, some classic cars do indeed offer a degree of investment potential, as do some stocks and shares or any other form of investment for that matter but all are subject to market forces and will fluctuate in value over time. My advice- buy a classic car primarily for the pleasure of ownership which you might derive from it and leave the speculation to the 'experts'.
The beautiful green E Type V12 FHC in the photo is being sold by Auto-Invest on behalf of the owner. It is a refreshingly good example with full and complete history file going back to 1973 which means that every aspect of its 45 year life is documented- unusual indeed. A prospective buyer contacted me to ask me to explain why he should pay 68,500 for this car when there are others advertised for around 35,000. The answer is simple- or complicated if you wish- how long is a piece of string? A series 3 roadster which has been off the road and stored in very bad conditions has just been sold at auction for 62,000. Expected cost of restoration as assessed by the magazine 'experts'- around 100,000. I rest my case on the 68,500 FHC.


Posted by Auto Invest, [08/10/2016] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge The EU referendum result seems to have added a fresh impetus to the market for 'investing' in classic cars as people with cash earning zero interest look to ways to park funds in assets which will appreciate rather than have to pay banks for the privilege of using deposits for their own benefit. As the era of zero interest rates approaches (or as will probably be the case, negative interest rates) money deposited in banks will actually cost you money.
Whilst property remains the most sought after form of safe investment, unless you have very large amounts of disposable cash available this is not an option for most people and the change in allowances for offsetting mortgage interest payments on buy to let properties has also influenced the equation. So classic cars are a viable alternative but which ones to buy????
I am now receiving several enquiries every month from people with modest sums of savings to invest in a classic car who seek advise on which make and model offers the 'best investment'. The answer depends on what criteria is understood by the term 'investment'. If someone is seeking purely value appreciation over a given period then any of the currently over-hyped and therefore over-valued models such as Ferraris from the 1970's to the 1990's must be considered risky. Austin Healeys also look vulnerable to an adjustment since a plentiful supply does not justify the high prices we are regularly seeing. In fact many postwar British and European sports cars look expensive.
The second criteria to consider is enjoyment to be gained from the 'investment'. One hears depressingly frequent stories about cars being bought and left garaged, unused for years on end by their owners who have no interest in a classic car in itself but view it purely as a monetary asset. However if you are intending to use your investment then select a make and model that you like, regardless of the era it is from. Prewar cars have seen the least value appreciation during the current 5 year price bubble and therefore will fall the least when the market corrects. They are simple to maintain, challenging to drive and relatively easy to restore if, like many older people, you are interested in restoring a car as a retirement project. By definition, they are now also now relatively rare and rarity is the best protection against a fall in value.
The 1934 Austin 10 hp Litchfield saloon in the photo is a case in point. Sound and useable, it would also be an excellent candidate for a rolling restoration over a period of years allowing its new owner to enjoy it whilst simultaneously adding value by making cosmetic improvements. It will never be worth a huge sum but capital invested in it will be protected as relatively few of these iconic small saloons survive and all Austins from the pre-BMC days are fondly remembered.


Posted by Auto Invest, [02/08/2016] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge This blog entry will pass by the current alarm bells being rung by the classic car pundits over stagnating and even falling prices....what a surprise....and report on the annual Circuit des Remparts d'Angouleme historic race festival in Southwest France from which I have just returned. What a superb event not just from the persepective of a participant in the circuit racing but also from a spectators standpoint. This is how historic racing used to be, think back to Goodwood during the first 3 or 4 years before rampant commercialisation took over. Thousands upon thousands of true racing enthusiasts line the course of this ancient city to watch and cheer on the racers as they do battle though the narrow streets and up the tortuous triple hairpin ascent before descending once more down a dogleg straight where cars exceed 100mph. The circuit is only two cars wide at any point so there is absolutely no room for error!
The 'Remparts' race has been going since 1937 and has been graced by many of the great drivers including the greatest of them all, Juan Manuel Fangio so that those participating are surely humbled by the weight of history. Where else today can you see a grid of some 25 cars composed entirely of Bugattis from the 1920's? Not a single trailer queen in sight, all of them battered and bruised, 'dans son jus' as the french would say and driven with exceptional determination. The physical effort required to handle a Bugatti around this course must be really demanding so bravo to the sole female driver of a Type 35...quelle femme!
For me, driving the 1955 XK 140 in the Gerard Larousse GT grid for cars from the 1950's to the 1970's, the main opposition from the same period of car came from a 1951 Allard and a 1955 Studebaker. The 30 minute practice session was used primarily to get to know the circuit, the best racing lines and work out optimum braking points as well as try to plan the best points for any overtaking possibilities. Feeling more confident after 20 or so laps I pressed harder and finished by qualifying 14th on the 24 car grid, two behind the Allard and one ahead of the Studebaker. The race itself was exhilarating marred only by two substantial accidents in which I was thankfully not involved and the disparity in performance between the fastest four cars- a 1960's Ford Diva racer and three Porsche 911's from a different era- as compared to the rest of the field. I was unable to catch up with the Allard who remained half a circuit ahead during the entire race and after a three lap battle at the start, the Studebaker overtook me and remained in view but two or three cars ahead until the finish. My main opponents were a British driven A35 and one of the two Mini Marcoses- eventually passing the A35 on the last lap and not quite managing to pass the Marcos although given another two laps it would have been done! Final position- 11th overall, plus aching left leg and left arm and the loss of at least 2 kilos through perspiration- the temperature inside the car must have reached 45 degrees C.
This is historic racing as it should be, accessible to the spectators and enthusiasts with easy entry to the paddock, close proximity to the track for viewing and very very little in the way of commercialisation which was really limited to a handful of stands around the Cathedral square, close to the race paddock. Also, the vast majority of the cars were being raced by their owners as compared to the dominance of professional drivers who now pilot the cars at the big UK historic events such as Goodwood and Silverstone. Extremely refreshing that Angouleme retains the atmosphere of amateur club racing with all the bonhomie and friendliness that goes with it! The thousands of British enthusiasts who make the annual pilgrimage to Angouleme are testament to that.






Posted by Auto Invest, [02/10/2015] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge There are continuing signs that the classic car market is sending out mixed messages. The almost daily line-up of classic car auctions during September might help to clarify things, bearing in mind that as I have stated many times, this market 'bubble' is largely auction driven. In addition prices are being helpfully pumped up by some of the classic car press, one leading magazine in particular, which seems to have now moved from reviewing the cars to a position of market speculator with each edition promoting a different array of classics which offer excellent opportunities for capital growth. Such phrases as 'buy it now and drive for free over the next 10 years' are not helpful (some might even say disingenuous) and for those who actually react to such inducements by rushing out and buying the hyped model in question, are you going to hold the magazine to account when the bubble bursts and your prized 'investment' is worth considerably less than what you paid for it???
One of the interesting aspects of the classic car press fixation with value speculation is that it exposes very clearly the type of cars which are being promoted and therefore bought as well as those which are overlooked. This boom is concentrated on British sports cars of the 1960's through to the 1980's, hot hatches and 'sports' saloons (Escorts RS etc) from the 1970's through the 1990's, and anything with a prancing horse on the emblem or that comes from Newport Pagnell. The glaringly overlooked sector is prewar cars. This is a major departure from the 1980's classic car bubble when prewar cars were at the forefront of demand. Why? Probably because of changing tastes and the usual motivation of buyers acquiring the cars that they dreamt about during their formative teenage years- todays' 40 somethings had photos of Lambo's, TR6's and 911's on their walls. Prewar cars were for their fathers generation to lust after.
Nevertheless, I for one am very pleased that the prewar sector has remained so constant, neither rising rapidly nor falling. My prediction is that it will become a sort of
expanded veteran car arena where owners will organise their own events free of market hysteria and without the pressure of value speculation spoiling their enjoyment which is really what the classic car hobby should be about.
Photo of the 1928 Chrysler Imperial Le Baron Club Coupe, one of the last cars in our stock (retirement calls) which just so that anyone who reads the current classic car magazines, auction catalogues and endlessly repetitive adverts which use the word 'Rare' to decribe their offerings, is a truly 'rare' item- one of two remaining in the world.
Anyone visiting the Angouleme Circuit des Remparts classic race festival on 20th September, look out for the blue XK140 in the Larousse GT grid!

Posted by Auto Invest, [09/09/2015] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge At last, I have to admit to a moment of smug satisfaction!
Those of you who patiently follow this somewhat erratic blog will appreciate a number of underlying and recurring themes which are raised on a regular basis. Over the last two years I have repeatedly suggested that the bloated prices being paid at auction are an indication of a serious misalignment of the classic car market. It is rare that I agree with anything that the eminent and much more respected market pundit Quentin Willson profers however his current column in Classic Cars magazine is 100% correct.
"If the market is so frenzied that classics at auction are considerably more expensive than buying directly from dealers and private sellers then things are are out of whack"
Exactly. Almost my own words!
Auctions should always be primarily a trade forum due to the risks involved with buying a car which allows so little opportunity for thorough investigation and no possibility to actually drive- the most basic requirement in respect of a motor vehicle. A mixture of over-monied and market- immature buyers who either get carried away with the excitement ( and skillful auctioneers tactics) whilst present in the auction hall or lazily bid by phone in the calm of their own living room invariably end up paying way more than they need for their auction sourced purchases. Whilst I have absolutely no sympathy for them the effect that they have on relentlessly ratcheting up the whole market is deeply concerning because it is based on a false premise that the cars they are buying are worth the sums being paid, which they are not! The inevitable outcome? A market correction if not a full blown crash.
QW is spot on in his analysis and I would simply add that in the same magazine his market assessment of prices paid during the preceding month shows three cars sold at around the figure we are seeking for the 1928 Chrysler imperial Club Coupe in the photo. These are a 1973 Porsche 911T, a 1994 Ferrari 348 Spider and a 1951 Jaguar MKV DHC. None of these are particularly rare, even the Jaguar has a high survival rate for a rather compromised re-heated prewar model. The 911 is the base model with the least exciting performance and the 348 is one of the worst Ferrari models ever produced. Just drive one if you doubt me- I have and it was awful. By contrast the Chrysler is one of two of these Le baron bodied vintage super cars known remaining of the mere 25 produced. Americas most powerful production car in its day and one of the most expensive now apparently only worth the same as a Ferrari 348. I rest my case.
What do you think?

Posted by Auto Invest, [02/05/2015] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Lots of comments throughout the classic car world about the Artcurial auction of the Baillon collection of derelict pre-war cars for mental prices but the best for me is the summary of that memorable (indeed historic) sale by another specialist who actually attended the event and could therefore gauge the true extent of the deranged bidding which took place in respect of the Ferrari 250 SWB California spider.........
"Alain Delon is no James Coburn......." Brilliant!
(Photo is of the interior of the Baillon Facel Vega Excellence complete with theatrically added cobwebs. Posted by Auto Invest, [11/03/2015] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge They are calling it the 'Sale of the Century' to date and with some justification. Yes, the Artcurial auction at Retromobile in Paris last week was indeed an occasion worthy of detailed comment in this blog particularly as I was actually there!! The dispersal of the Baillot collection comprising mainly some 60 prewar cars stored in atrocious conditions on a farm for around 50 years was always going to invite great interest but no one could have expected the frenzy that actually occurred on the day of the sale itself.
The Artcurial management had decided to display the collection of dilapidated wrecks (a somewhat generous description by any judgement) in a vast seperate hall from the main event and in order to create the 'barn find' atmosphere had helpfully omitted to include lighting with the result that the whole thing was displayed in near total darkness. Extremely useful for those buyers who actually wanted to discover some idea of the extent of degredation of the vehicles (or as in many cases what remained of the original vehicles) being offered. The unprecedented interest to see the collection before the start of the sale created a chaotic situation with thousands queing up outside the hall in bright but freezing temperatures whilst the authorities battled to limit the entries to the approved numbers. Remember that this is only two weeks after the Paris terrorist attacks and security at any event in the city remains on high alert. A decision was therefore made to only admit registered bidders for the auction thereby denying those genuinely interested visitors of the chance to actually see the cars. My colleague and I duly returned to the main Retromobile hall and registered to bid costing us a cool Euros 80 which should have at least entitiled us to a catalogue but Artcurial had not printed sufficient quantities and by this time had run out- "desole, monsieur" !
When we eventually managed to shuffle into the display hall it took several minutes for our eyes to become accustomed to the gloom enough to make out details of the cars themselves. Still covered in decades of grime with some freshly strewn straw thrown in for good measure, the sight of these pathetic relics was disconcerting. Most were already scrap material when originally 'purchased' by Roger baillot in the 1950's and '60's so with the addition of another 50 years of exposure to the elements you can imagine the result. Having by this time managed to obtain a catalogue from a departing visitor who having actually seen the offerings had sensibly decided to depart, the indicated estimates made amusing reading. Some of the undoubtedly rarer and very desirable (when restored) models suggested unrealistically high estimates that we laughingly dismissed as wishful thinking by the auctioneers. How wrong we were.
From the fall of the hammer on the first lot, an early 1950's Singer 1500 roadster, neither rare nor complete and little more than a very rusty rolling shell, estimated at E.200-800 but for which someone paid E.9000 plus, let us not forget, 16% buyers premium, the stage was set for an orgy of misplaced spending on a vast scale. Every single lot exceeded the estimates usually by many multiples and as the rarity and values climbed so did the distance between estimate and actual selling price. I cite the example of one particular model of which there were 5 examples on offer- Delahaye 135 or 235 post war coupes, all in varying states of dereliction:
lot 11- 135 cabriolet, est. E.100,000-150,000, selling price E.360,000 plus premium
lot 12- 235 coach, est. E.20,000-25,000, selling price E.100,000 plus premium
lot 37, 235 coach, est E.35,000-45,000, selling price E.52,000 plus premium
lot 41, 135 coach, est.E20,000-30,000, selling price E.67,000 plus premium.
lot 48, 235 coach, est.30,000-40,000, selling price E.90,000 plus premium.

When one considers the cost of actually restring these cars in the cold light of day, a process which could easily consume Euros 150,000 to 200,000 or probably more, would it not have been simpler and far more cost effective to have simply bought a restored car or a well preserved original for around Euros 100,000?

The much publicised star lot, the ex Alain Delon 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was flattered by the pre-sale photos seen in the press around the globe. Up close, the extent of the poor condition was obvious including the concave boot lid which someone had evidently been jumping on at some time, a view carefully not shown by the auctioneers! The vinyl covered seats also suggested far from original condition. Matters became further complicated the day before the auction when Delon's lawyers issued a stark warning through the press to Artcurial about using the Delon connection to inflate the value of a car which the actor had only owned for 2 years and had sold way back in 1965. When it appeared beneathe the rostrum, no mention was made of Alain Delon! Debate raged pre-sale as to whether it would achieve the estimated E.9,500, 000-12,000,000. As expected and in view of the insane prices which preceeded it, the car was hammered down for E.14,200,000 plus premium. The much more desirable (to this commentator) and better preserved 1956 Frua bodied Maserati A6G Gran Sport made E.1,720,000 against an estimate of E.800,000-1,200,000 which I consider to be not cheap but by the standards of the event better-bought than the vast majority of overpriced junk.
Most astonishing results? It has to be the three 'modern' Ferraris included by the Baillot family, all in poor to very poor condition having lain unused for many years plus one of the prewar cars:
1982 308 GTSi- partially dismantled, est. E.5,000-10,000, selling price E.28,000 plus premium
1988 Mondial cab, est.18,000-24,000, selling price E.32,000 plus premium
1978 400GT, est.E12,000-16,000, selling price E.45,000 plus premium, yes, for a 400!!!!

Now the most outrageous result of all, the 1949 Talbot Lago T26 Grand Sport with SaoutchiK coupe bodywork or rather with what remained of it, see photo attached. This undeniably superp design by one of the great french coachbuilders had been involved in a serious accident at some time prior to its purchase by Roger Baillot in which it had suffered extensive rear end damage to chassis and bodywork. The dreadful conditions in which it had subsequently been stored for the next half a century had led to the roof collapsing on one side and almost the entire lower half of the bodywork dissappearing through rust. Virtually nothing salvageable remained of the interior, indeed nothing of any part of the car looked salvageable. The estimate was a comical E.400,000-600,000. The ferocious bidding war which took place lasted almost 10 minutes and eventually saw the hammer fall at E.1,450,000 plus premium. The buyer had just spent E.1.5 mio on little more than a a chassis plate. Bravo, but is such a profligate display of expenditure by the super wealthy a healthy example for the classic car industry? Call me cynical perhaps but as i keep insisting there are no bargains at auctions these days and if buyers only took the trouble to research what is available from dealers as well as private sellers, the current fixation with auctions might come to a shuddereing and deserved halt.
Posted by Auto Invest, [13/02/2015] - 1 reply to this post
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Attending the NEC Classic Car Show for the first time in several years I was surprised by its hugely increased size and the quality of the exhibits. The club stands now for the most part display really well prepared and interesting models as compared to the many of the sorry looking cars which I recall from previous shows. As always, the dealer stands appear immaculate however two things struck me as odd- the outrageous prices being suggested by so many sellers of not very interesting or rare models and the the inexplicable success of the only modern car dealership I could see at the show who literally could not keep up with the sales and was obliged to re-stock with fresh cars at the end of each day! You can understand that a handful of visitors to a classic car show might, on a whim, see a 'modern' for sale and decide on the spur of the moment to buy it but for so many people to think the same way and fork out large sums of money at what is after all a..... CLASSIC CAR SHOW.....is to me puzzling.
In addition, few (very few) of the sellers at this show offered pre-war cars which follows the current market hysteria for sports cars from the 60's to 80's era. Pre-war cars remain ludicrously inexpensive compared to most post-war sports cars and I would therefore suggest will be largely immune from any market correction when it comes similar to exactly what happened in 1990. The price of such classic staples as Rolls Royce Phantoms hardly moved when the last crash came. A decent, usable 20/25 can still be bought for under 30,000 just as it could 15 years ago. Aside from some of the ultra rare and exotically bodied specimens such as Talbot Lago Figoni & Fallaschi's, the majority of pre-war quality marques remain excellent value and have not been affected by the general market price inflation we have seen over the last 5 years. The question is whether todays' generation of younger, well-heeled buyers want to own pre-war classics???? Now that is a subject worth debating. My own view is that the vast majority of contemporary buyers in their forties and fifties probably do not aspire to own the great cars of the 1920's and 1930's because they have no point of reference with them whereas us baby boomers born immediately after the last war can still remember cars from that era being used as every day transport. I well remember walking as a child through south west London and seeing a 'blower- Bentley (always a favourite of mine and I owned a Dinky example at the time) in a somewhat forlorn state for sale on a used car forecourt for '250 or offers'! On another occasion my father took me with him to view a Lagonda 4.5 litre saloon with current Mot and running very well. It must have been around the late 1960's and the old Lag was eventually acquired for the princely sum of 100. Put those prices into the perspective of some 50 to 60 years on and the relative values have probably not changed much at all, so different from comparable values today for sports cars of the 1960's and 1970's
Any thoughts?



Posted by Auto Invest, [18/11/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge So the crazy prices continue unabated- at auction- with Silverstones' latest event producing more jaw dropping results:- Willys Jeep- 24,000, XJS Cabriolet -21,000, Fiat Dino spider- 74,000, E Type 3.8 roadster- 212,000, 2x Porsche 911 2.4 S's- 195,000 & 161,000, Aston DB6 Volante- 954,000 and so on and so on. To this sceptical eye these seem stupid prices but I may yet be proved wrong if the current market inflation continues unchecked. The point I have consistently made about the type of cars being hyped is yet again reflected by the Silverstone result- sports cars from the late 1950's through to the mid 1970's are where the buyers want to be whereas with rare exceptions, pre-war gems are overlooked. Sticking out like a saw thumb amongst the overpriced mass produced sports cars was the 1926 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 Sedanca coupe- just 79,000, the same price as someone paid for a 1979 308 GT ( we sold one of these unremarkable models for 22,000 a few years ago) and what a bargain for its new owner.
Away from the market and of more interest is the confirmation, after some extensive internet searching, that the old Jaguar XK140 owned and raced by your srcibe did indeed race during its early years in Jamaica where it was exported as a new car. The first owner, one Danny Ennevor not only used it in hillclimbs and sprints but also entered it in the first Jamaica Grand prix which took place on the former US airbase at Vernamfield. Ironic that after all these years it is now racing again in the southwest UK. Photo is of the old girl at Wiscombe Park three clubs hillclimb earlier this year. Posted by Auto Invest, [08/09/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge So that well known wheeler dealer Quentin Willson has parted with his Jaguar E Type 3.8 series 1 FHC. We will all recall that this was, as usual, a car which would 'never be sold' and was obsessively restored with fanatical attention to following original specification and detail. He even shod it with RS5 crossplies which must be fun when they tramline on road markings! I well remember when I first bought my own 3.8 roadster in 1975 it came with similar Dunlop RS5 tyres and they are surely as horrendous today as back then.
QW's car has just been sold at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction for 203,000 which must be a record for a fixed head car. Given that other superb examples are available for bewteen 100K and 150K, how much of the bloated value of this car is down to the celebrity factor of its former owner or the dubious 'early race history' which it is alleged to have? Call me sceptical but I am always a little suspicious when cars claim to have 'race history' without any real substantive evidence.
The QW car has been well covered during its restoration by many articles in various magazines, not least Classic Cars for whom its owner is a major contributor of articles. Coincidentally, the monthly 'market assessment' column has been pushing E Types as being worthy of investment with much room remaining for speculative value growth. One might even mischievously suggest that this car which was so meticulously restored as a 'keeper' was always destined for the saleroom having benfitted from such copious magazine coverage over the years since he bought it. Even that well known lover of classic cars, Jeremy Clarkson, who famously derided E types during a ludicrous Top Gear episode involving testing one on their track has now jumped on the bandwagon and named the E Type FHC as one of the top three 'must buy for investment purposes' classics. We are told by him that they will all be worth 200,000 oin a few years time. Any link from all this to the surprise decision to put the QW car on the market???
For those in the real world, a reminder of some basic realities. There are hundreds if not thousands of series 1 E Type FHC's for sale at any given time. Plentiful supply will always have an effect on value. You do not need to pay 200K for even the very best examples.
The 1964 opalescent light blue example we are currently selling for an asking price of 110,000 is proof enough. It has cost its owner in excess of the asking price to restore over 8 years so why is he not demanding 200K now the decision to sell it has been made? Because, beautiful and fresh from a restoration where every component was renewed or rebuilt though it is, its value is around 110,000! Perhaps celebrities can get away with such inflated prices but it also requires a degree of luck plus I would suggest a large slice of naivety on the part of the buyers with deep pockets.



Posted by Auto Invest, [10/07/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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We are now at the heaight of the auction season with sales occurring on an almost daily basis, so since this current classic car 'boom' is undoubtedly being driven to a large extent by well publicised and frenzied auction activity, lets take a look at some of the less noted features.
We are all aware of the incredible rise in the values of all Aston DB's from 2 all the way through to 6. Bonhams sold six examples over the last three weeks at two different venues, Newport Pagnell and Oxford. The Aston works sale results saw four DB6's make 191,000, 236,700, 270,300, and 539,100 respectively (insane, I know). At the Oxford sale the two DB6's made 130,000 and 135,900 respectively. Now of course condition makes a huge difference to value and I personally do not know what condition any of these cars were actually in nevertheless how is such a wide disparity in values at the two venues explained? My guess is a combination of immature purchasers (immature in the sense of not knowing much about classic cars, their values and buying more with an eye for perceived investment value than a passion to own the car) and the status of the two sales. Newport Pagnell has become one of Bonhams premier events whereas Oxford is one of their least classy (but far more enjoyable). Even taking into account vastly different 'condition' for these cars, the price disparity is vast.
Not so for the two Ferrair Dino 246's sold by Silverstone Auctions this month. A show quality yellow example made 250,700 (new record for one of these delectably pretty but totally under-whelming performers?) whilst a wreck- and the description wreck is used rather generously in the case of this rust bucket held together solely by what was left of its ghastly metallic green paintwork- made 132,250. Good luck to its new owner who evidently needs to go and lie down in a darkened room. This continues a trend of todays' well healed auction purchasers chasing cars form the 1960's and 1970's just as they did during the last classic car boom of the late 1980's whilst the other great 'era', the 1930's, sees valuyes of the great quality marques rising steadily but unremakably with buyers generally extremely knowledgeable and well researched as to how they are spending their money. At Bonhams Oxford sale of the 12 cars which sold below estimate (that in iteself is indicator since Bonhams notoriously under estimates to increase interest), 80% were 60 years of age or older.
So when the inevitable bubble bursts which cars will tumble in value and which will be immune, if any? One thing is highly likely and that is that the values of quality cars from the 1920's and 1930's will likely be barely affected by a market 'correction. just as was the case in 1989.
Anyone agree or disagree with this hypothesis...?

Posted by Auto Invest, [20/06/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge To say that I get exercised by the current auction results might be somewhat of an understatement. Why should I worry, some might say, so what if uninformed and wealthy punters (for that read 'investors') want to overpay for cars being sold at auction?
The point is that it distorts and ultimately weakens the whole market. None of us want to see a general price 'correction' from which the market would inevitably take many years to recover.
The Silverstone Auctions NEC restoration project auction in April serves to underline the point. Resto projects have always been and probably always will be an irresistible attraction to many people never mind the vast amount of time and money now required to undertake any type of restoration work. Leaving aside the obvious and predictably fought over Jaguar XK's and other currenty hyped models, the 64,400 paid for a Facel Vega HK500 wreck which had been dismantled and had some work done (the absolute worst type of project to take on) is simply inexplicable. Good, roadworthy, useable examples are still available if you look hard (and avoid anything going to auction) for 60-80,000. So how much will the Silverstone wreck have cost once it has finally been restored? 180,000, 200,000? Quite possibly, so why on earth bother?
They say that there is always one bargain at most auctions, something that slips through. The 1975 Iso Lele Sport had even been highlighted in the copious pre-auction write-ups by at least one major publication yet on the day it sold for 11,500. Gift!! How can everyone have been so blind and so unknowledgeable? An ultra rare (250 made) 170 mph 4 seater italian grand tourer and in addition this example was one of the handful of 'Sport' models with the high performance Cobra Jet engine and ZF 5 speed manual gearbox. The photo attached of the yellow sister car, also a Sport, which we sold a few years back for many times the low figure paid at Silverstone's reminds me of what superb cars these are and of the eventful non stop drive through the night from central Switzerland to the ferry port at Le Havre having collected it following almost 20 years unused in a sealed garage. That is a story for another day! This model is worth 30,000 in any sort of driveable condition so well done to the buyer.
Once again, the auction market demonstrates a lamentable lack of depth of knowledge about classic cars in general with most buyers preferring to stick rigidly to the hyped brands whose values continue to inflate to unsustainable levels.
Anyone agree or disagree?



Posted by Auto Invest, [26/04/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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A decade or so back Auto-Invest was one of the first 100 classic car specialists to register with carandclassic.com, the internet classic car marketing specialist website which has come to dominate on-line advertising in that field. Many other websites have started up to try to emulate carandclassic.com's success and most have long since collapsed. Why? What is the secret of that company's remarkable and continuing domination of this highly competitive market? Is their website perhaps ultra-modern, innovative and attractive to users? No, it has hardly changed in all the years and is a rather bland listing of adverts with limited small thumbnail photos.
The reason for their success is very simple- it is FREE to all users, trade or private. The owners of the website have told me that in their opinion the future of online classic car advertising will result in websites actually paying advertisers to list their cars. Lets hope so.
The point of this topic is to highlight the remarkable change in the classic car sales market over the last few years. We constantly read reports about the 'red hot' market which would appear to be borne out by the ludicrous prices regularly being paid primarily at auctions for not just exceptional and rare models but also mundane and plentiful offerings as well. And yet carandclassic.com now lists many thousands of dealers and tens of thousands of cars for sale at any one time. The dozens of monthly classic car specialist magazines are full of adverts for cars for sale. So in this frenzied market presumably there are more than enough buyers eager to snap up all these cars? No, not at all. The market has become distorted in terms of both those offering classics for sale and those buying them.
A whole generation of buyers have entered the market for reasons which are not primarily geared towards a desire to own a particular classic but have more to do with perception about a certain brand or model and for reasons of financial benefit.
A new breed of seller has arrived to take advantage of the much publicised opportunities to be gained from selling classic cars, many of whom have no deep knowledge about classics nor even a particular passion for them. This relative ignorance about the products from both buyers and sellers has fuelled the distortion we currently see in the market. Leaving aside the annomaly of the 200,000 Aston Martin DB6 and Ferrari Dino, you do not need to pay 20,000 for a MK1 Ford Escort or 40,000 for a Triumph TR2. The now well established 'trade expert' pundit columns in all the magazines push a certain number of classics as sure-fire 'investment' opportunities every month, each magazine carefully coordinating with their competitors to ensure that no one marque is punted during the same month! And it is uncannily the same old list which is pushed- TR's, MG's, Jaguars, etc- when did you see our old friend Quentin Willson promoting a Talbot Lago as an absurdly undervalued and overlooked pre-war marque of great eminence (a beautiful 1939 T26 Cabriolet failed to make 180,000 at auction last year against the inevitable six figure DB6 alongside it).
Quality pre-war cars remain grossly undervalued compared to the inflated figures for everything from the 1950' to the 1980's. It may just be to do with changing tastes but a lack of depth of knowledge from many buyers and sellers surely plays a part as well?
Posted by Auto Invest, [21/04/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge The difference in markets in different countries of the world is always an area of interest to me. Given the acessibility of vast amounts of detailed information relating to every make and model of classic car ever produced at the touch of a button (perhaps 'click' of computer mouse would be more exact), why do certain cars appeal more in one market than another? What aspect of classic car culture predominates more there than here? Why should one type of taste apply more to one area than another?
I have been having a dialogue with one prospective buyer of one of our classic stock about the relative merits of 'better than new' restored versus originalilty. Many americans prefer the fully restored, shiny as a new pin gleamer to the slightly down at heal but utterly original alternative whereas here in Europe and particulalrly the uk, originality is more and more appreciated. The old addage has never been truer...you can create a fully restored, better than new car simply by throwing unlimited amounts of money at it however no amount of money can buy originality.
Personally, I prefer originality over restored to such a degree that I positively stay clear of the non-original if at all possible- purely a personal thing and not intended to denigrate restored cars in any way.
The 1939 Hotchkiss 680 Monte Carlo Decouvrable that we recently acquired from Portugal where it had been since new is just such a case in point. Fabulously original and well preserved after 75 years, RHD and one of the Grand Routier class of pre-war premium french touring cars. So in the brief period since it has gone on sale one would logically assume that all the interest has come from either the UK where the RHD element should play hard or Europe, particulalrly France, where the legendary Grand Routiers are held in very high esteem. Wrong! To date, all the serious interest has come from the USA. Such are the mysteries of the different markets.
Posted by Auto Invest, [14/02/2014] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge It is astonishing how many 'market pundits' have sprung up this year across the entire spectrum of classic car publications. They appear to be coordinating their market tips by never dispensing the same recommendations for buying a certain model during the same month across different publications! Inevitably, since just about every make and model takes its turn to be identified as a 'must buy' whilst prices apparently remain 'so affordable', repetition soon creeps in.
It is all of course very self-serving and given the excited market in which we find ourselves, classic car publications have identified a ready source of avid followers who seemingly lap up this so-called market insider advice. However it is just this sort of market hype which will lead to problems in due course because in my opinion massed produced models which are very plentiful can never sustain high value. I cite recent examples of stupid prices being paid at auctions for MG Midgets, Triumph Spitfires and Ford Escorts. No one needs to pay 15,000 for any of these- good excamples are widely available (still) for sale privately and through realistically minded dealers for much less but it needs a bit of patience and effort to locate them rather than picking up the phone and simply bidding blind as so often happens at todays auctions.
Thankfully, one respected 'market pundit' writing in one of the quality monthly magazines seems to share my concerns, even identifying the same mad prices which we recently highlighted- the 203,000 De Thomaso Mangusta, the 161,000 Austin Healey 100M and the 292,000 E Type 4.2 roadster. By comparison, the 1.1 million paid for a BMW 507 does seem reasonable- why? because it is rare, beautiful and seldom available.
Bargains do not have to start in the seven digit category and a prime example remains the Mercedes Benz 129 series, photo attached. They will never command huge value because they are plentiful and remain plentiful due to their superb build quality. A car which cost some 50,000 twenty years ago and is now worth around one tenth of that figure is worth close consideration for all seeking open air motoring and useability year round. The magazine pundits would be better served by limiting themselves to identifying a small number of genuinely undervalued models rather than covering the entire spectrum of anything which might vaguely be defined as 'classic' in a buggins-turn manner.
What do you think about the current febrile market?



Posted by Auto Invest, [28/12/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Posted by , [23/12/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Thank you for the comments received to the last blog- I am glad some agree with me but the majority seem to disagree with my market assessment!

For those who follow auction results, how about the RM sale in London earlier this month? It was not the failure of the over-hyped ex Ecurrie Ecosse D Type to make the predicted 5.0 mio that surprised many but the utterly insane 320,320 paid for a restoration project RHD 1959 Jaguar XK 150 3.4 'S' Roadster. Accepting that it is a very rare beast indeed, one of a claimed 24 RHD genuine 3.4 'S' spec roadsters, why would someone pay so many multiples over its true worth even if they wanted to keep it in its current very tatty state and not restore it? In fact several people must have felt the same way about it to take the bidding to those giddy heights.
A fully restored example of a genuine 'S' roadster is available for less than this figure.

So here is a proposal to all those hunting a genuine 'barn-find' RHD UK spec 1959 Jaguar XK 150 3.4 'S' FHC- I have just such a car in stock- dis-enterred from 35 years dry storage in a garage (not the ubiquitous leaky barn), one of a claimed production of just 44 genuine 3.4 'S' FHC's so slightly more abundant than the roadssters but stll mighty rare, runs and drives needs body restoration. It is even the same Cotswold Blue as the RM car! If we apply the usual 30 to 40% premium to an open model over its coupe sibling, using a median 35% that means that our car should be worth 'only' 208,208 on the RM auction reckoning of the current market value for these cars!!

Attention all those who lost out at RM on the 150 'S' Roadster, COME AND GET this 150 'S' FHC for a bargain 150,000, a whopping 68,000 less than the market says it should be worth!!!!!!!!! (Photo of our car attached).

What do you think?

p.s Just an after thought on the relative rarity of the genuine XK 150 'S' models- given the higher survival rate of open cars it is quite probable that today there are less 'S' FHC's than roadsters or DHC's, the most numerous of the three variants when in production.
Posted by Auto Invest, [22/10/2013] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge Sorry once again for the delay in submitting new material. It is not out of presumptiousness that I expect vast numbers of people to be impatiently waiting to devour every word of this blog but a handful of loyal followers do regularly have a read and rightly criticise me when the gap between posts get too long.

The market. I have for some time been predicting an overheated classic car market and have been proven wrong by the continued steady climb in prices almost uniformly across the entire spectrum of makes and models of cars over 30 years old. Whilst admitting to having got the time frame wrong, I am not yet prepared to admit defeat for this thesis. All the signs of an overheated market are there with uncomfortable similarities to the crash of the early 1990's which left classic car prices tumbling and in the doldrums for the best part of a decade.
Just as in the late 1980's, it is the auction houses who are 'making the market', not the dealers or private sellers and a significant proportion of the buyers who are willing to part with their money for the purchase of an overpriced classic at auction are inexperienced in classic car ownership. They are buying what they perceive to be a tangible, inflation proof asset which they can touch, admire and occassionally use whilst all the while accruing a steady increase in value well beyond the pathetic returns offered by monetary savings at the banks. That is the theory. If this price inflation was limited to certain gold-standard' makes such as certain Ferrari V12 models from the 1960's and 70's or even the much derided (by me anyway) Aston DB phenomenum, I would agree that their rarity and desirability probably assures that prices would not fall much even in a situation where an overrall market correction occurs. But it is the uniform nature of the price inflation which is concerning. How can Austin Healeys be worth 60,000 when the supply is so plentiful and the car is anyway so average in so many respects? Or try Triumph TR3's at 50,000! A Fiat Jolly (basically a bog-standard Fiat 600 with the roof cut off) for 51,000, sold by, yes you guessed it, Bonhams naturally.
What happens when all the 'classic car as investment' money dries up which it inevitably will when other forms of investment offer better returns- property, gilts, stocks and even savings accounts? These buyers, who lets face it for the most part have no interest in owning a classic car other than for financial reasons, will simply off-load creating an oversupply with the inevitable crash which that scenario dictates. Even a slowing of demand will have a similar if reduced effect. Once cars fail to sell at auction due to slowing demand, sellers will lower prices and fuel a similar market correction. Talking with one inflential and very well established dealer friend who operates in the London recently, he shares similar views and even cites specific examples where certain popular models such as TR's are bombing at recent auctions. More worryingly, demand through his showrrom is much reduced as private buyers erroneously seek 'bargains' at auction.
It is not only the auction houses who are guilty of stoking the fire, the classic car magazines are also creating a great deal of hype around 'investing' in classic cars. Our old friend Quentin Willson's new Market Column in Classic Cars magazine purports to identify the market movers whilst inevitably encouraging naive readers to rush out and buy a miriad of expert-fancied models 'whilst prices remain so affordable' and he helpfully suggests that classic Range Rovers at 15,000 are a snip (yes, the same 1990's models with the collapsed air suspension, terminal rust in the tailgate and rear chaasis sections plus dodgy electrical systems of which many thousands unfortunately survive). Apparently Mercedes 300SL's at 1.0 million are also a snip.
Call me Dr Doom but I do foresee trouble ahead.
What do you think?
Photo is once again of 'The Snotter' two weeks ago on this years Alpine Challenge in the Diablerets region of Switzerland keeping good company as always.
Posted by Auto Invest, [29/09/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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This weekend will see the third year of the Alpine Challenge Historic Regularity Rally in Switzerland. For those who regularly follw this blog, Auto-Invest is one of the sponsors and founding partners of this now well-established and (this year in particular) very well supported event.
42 teams will compete over three days over some 300 miles of high mountain passes in and around the Gstaad region. The rally is also well known for its social side and this year will be no exception with wine tasting and gourmet cuisine assured at the end of each hard-driven day. A new addition will be the chance for all teams to participate in the Orlons-Villars classic car hillclimb on the morning of the 15th with some of Switzerlands most exotic historic cars over a seven kilometre closed-road course. As last year, your blogger will be using the 'Snotter', our 1969 Triumph Vitesse for the event, resindent in Switzerland for the last 18 months and used regularly by my colleague for historic regularity rallies and ice rallies. It attracts considerable attention and being somewhat 'cosmetically challenged', always provides a certain perverse pleasure when parked next to Mercedes 300 Gullwings or other exotica.
Should be fun! Posted by Auto Invest, [10/09/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge MAD!! I seem to be using that word a lot these days in regard to some of the more insane prices being paid by buyers at auction for cars which in my humble opinion are simply not worth a fraction of the money handed over. No, not Aston Martins or Ferraris today but a humble Triumph Herald saloon. An optimistic dealer in Dorset is advertising his 46 year old 'as new' Herald for a heart-stopping 18,995. Even accepting that it has been stored for its entire life and has covered less than 100 miles from new, just think of all the eminently more desirable cars that one could own for a shade under 20K. Furthemore, even assuming someone is misguided enough to buy it, what are they then going to do with it? Its sole 'premium' value, if it actually has any, is its unused state so either the new owner simply looks at it in his garage and maintains the ultra-low mileage (might get a bit boring if you ask me) or he starts to use it and immediately devalues it massively! Bit of a no brainer really.
Photo is of our latest edition to stock. Believed to be the sole remaining Dennis F3/38 Fire engine, built in 1946 and unused since decommissioned from active service with the Ghent Fire Service, Belgium, in the 1970's. Seats upto 12 bulky firemen so could make a very unusual bus or campervan with the added advantage that if the campsite had any water problems, you could come to the rescue by firing up the pumps which would quickly drain the local river. Wonderful thing! Oh, forgot to mention its engine. No primitive World War Two era diesel here but a legendary Meadows 4500cc straight six as used in vintage Lagondas and Invictas. The only downside is that it is a bit big and heavy so needs somewhere with a teeny bit of space.

Posted by Auto Invest, [18/08/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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In response to dtrjaguar's comment, I agree - up to a point! Supply and demand does of course count but the hyped Astons are amongst the most numerous! A super rare 15/98 convertible which we sold 5 or 6 six years back recently went back on the market and sold for a modest 30% more. DB4/5/6 and 'S' inflation is running at more like 50% per annum. Also, the very rare Jaguar XK models such as the 120 FHC in RHD, the 140 Roadster Roadster in RHD and genuine 150 'S' of all three body derivatives are yet to command a significant premium over the widely available 'ordinary' ones.
Thanks for your views. Posted by Auto Invest, [05/08/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge There is only one place to be this week-end- 3rd & 4th August- and that is at the Earl of Arran's Castle Hill Estate just outside South Molton in north Devon.
This new classic car festival offers a great variety of intersting activities over the weekend including a speed hillclimb in which the Auto-Invest sponsored Jaguar XK 140 race car will be competing. The Castle Hill website provides full details at:- http://www.castlehillcarfestival.co.uk
Plenty of classic and supercar displays and a whole field devoted to childrens activities so no excuse not to bring the kids. All enthusiasts welcome to visit our trade stand at C1.

Photo taken in May when the XK was used to film the promo video on the track at Castle Hill which proved to be a little too fast for the MSA's liking with the result that two chicanes have now been added. Posted by Auto Invest, [30/07/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Well, as expected, Bonhams' annual bonanza at the Aston Martin works in Newport Pagnall probably ensured another round of fat bonuses for the directors at that establishment. It must be so easy when you know that whatever you present with the logo Aston Martin on the bonnet, regardless of condition, given a vaguely realistic estimate, will guarantee to double or triple that figure as a result of sheer, blind, mis-guided bidding from buyeres with more money than sense.
Aston Martin DB2/4's and 3's are now being hyped to ridiculous levels following the departure of DB 4's and 5's (and soon 6's) from the realms of sanity. I know a bit about the DB 2/4 having spent a large part of my childhood in a 1957 example when owned by my father between 1961 and 1970. Beautiful lines is about the only positive thing one could say about it. Not very fast- 125mph absolute tops and I still recall childish frustration at being outperformed with ease by E types amongst others-awful brakes, very cramped interior accomadation for what was marketed as a four seater coupe. DB 2/4's and 3's should on paper be worth considerably less than equivalent (and far better handling/performing) Jaguar XK's whose FH coupes shared equally ludicrous 2+2 pretentions. So why the vast price difference today? A superb XK 150 can be bought for 80,000 and I am not including here the much rarer 'S' versions, whereas DB 2/4's and 3's in excellent condition are making over 200,000. Mad. Posted by Auto Invest, [13/07/2013] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge Posted by Auto Invest, [14/05/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Patience pays off! There is now a noticeable void above the store room in the showroom at Eggesford where the little Negrini mini racing bike used to be. Balanced precariously on the roof of the store, it was immediately visible to all who entered the premises and safely out of reach of children who quite naturally were irresistibly drawn to its diminutive size and tended to leap onto it with near disastrous consequences on one occasion when it toppled over with child aboard.
So after a decade or more of offers being casually thrown via email, telephone and from the showroom floor itself, all of which were countered with the response that for this machine the asking price is the selling price, a local classic car enthusiast has simply bought it for the 1000 being asked, the price set all those years ago.
Why is this relevant? Simply because this little machine is incredibly rare- probably a handful exist globally. It is entirely unusable except by a child or a monkey (hence the origins of the term 'monkey bike' and I can remember seeing them riden by monkeys on trips to the circus as a child) but highly collectible and guaranteed to draw attention wherever it is exhibited. It is also a bargain at the long-festereing asking price which should really have been adjusted in line with the market over all those years. Once again, rarity is the single most important element in determining investment value in the field of classic cars. Good luck to the buyer and I am certain it will bring a lot of satisfaction to him and to all who see it as he displays it at classic car rallies throughout the South West alongside his battleship grey Standard 10! It is certain to bring a smile to the faces of all who see it!
Posted by Auto Invest, [09/05/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Not much to say as regards the current state of the market except that the recent auction results, at a time of year when traditionally sales attract the highest number of buyers and achive some of the best prices, have not been positive. Few buyers and with some obvious exceptions, low overrall sales rate. To me, that is good news as for too long the market has been led by auctions when logically it should be the reverse- retail sales should lead whilst auctions operate as a mixture of trade outlet and non-retail quality. After all, how much can you actually verify when buying at auction? You cannot drive a car, seldom hear it running and are at the mercy of what scant information is usually provided by the auctioneers. So why would anyone want to pay retail prices without being able to properly assess the purchase? Risky!

How about this for value? No.39 of a limited edition run of 100 Bentley Brooklands 'R' Mulliner, the final incarnation of ther famous Turbo R to mark the end of its production. Ultra rare, highly collectible, packed with the ultimate specification gizmos, 56,000 miles coverd with Full Service History and all for 21,990. A bargain by anyone's reckoning. Posted by Auto Invest, [03/05/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge It is a strange old world, Seen the results of the february micro car sale in the USA? A quarter of a million dollars for a Messerscmitt bubblecar or how about $80,000 for a Peel. Utterly mad and a bit sad.
Elsewhere, auction prices during the busy February opening of the season sales period exhibited a relative degree of caution and sense amongst buyers. There were the inevitable inflated prices being paid for certain Enzo era Ferraris and a ridiculous 7,000 for a basket case early Mini but for the most part prices were sensible.
So what should buyers look for? With plenty to choose from in every era and bodystyle, my advice would be to ignore the pundits recommendations as to which model "is a bargain, grab one before prices rise" and choose a car which appeals to you within your budget regardless of whether it represents exceptional value or is priced bang on the market. If you have always hankered after an MGB, buy one from the miriad on offer. Too often those new to classic cars seem to feel obliged to follow market recommendations from so-called experts in the motoring press. They do not know anything more than the rest of us and just like the stock market, prices rise and fall as a result of speculation. Nevertheless, seemingly contrary to everything which has just been said, here is a market tip. Neo-classics from the 1990's which are presently ludicrously cheap having just reached the end of their depreciation cycle. For example, the 2000 Alfa Romeo Spider Lusso with 45,000 miles which we have in stock at 3,990 or any of the many Mercedes R129 roadsters which are available (just make sure you find a good one!) available for around 10% of their cost price. Just think, these are utterly useable, fast open roof sports cars for less than 6% the cost of the unuseable glorified wheel barrows that go by the name Microcars.


Posted by Auto Invest, [25/03/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Posted by Auto Invest, [04/03/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Market review first. Well I must claim a 'told you so moment' here- 650,000 paid at retromobile for a DB4 convertible in far from perfect condition just about sums up the current and continuing insanity where Aston Martin DB's are concerned. The two which will appear at Bonhams in May will no doubt exceed that in terms of overvalued stupidity.
Of much more importance is the latest news on the UK Alpine Challenge historic regularity rally which got a mention in this months Classic Cars magazine.
I have just driven the course through Devon & Cornwall with my Swiss colleague (architect of the swiss-based Alpine Challenge Club) and can confirm that it is fabulous!! Far from an easy stroll, it will challenge competitors with the variety of roads that are used, some quite extreme in terms of narrowness and steepness. One hill is a staggering 1:4 or 25% gradient- truly steep!! Lots of hairpins through the deepest Devon combes which are every bit as tortuous as those you might find in the Alps plus the wide open expanses of Bodmin Moor and Exmoor. The special stages include use of the Pentillie Castle hillclimb course, the abandoned former WW2 bomber base at Davidstowe airfield and of the famous Porlock Hill, the long and extremely steep pre-war hillclimb arena which winds up from the coast over some 3 miles to the cliffs on Porlock hill.
A must-do event for anyone with a classic car (speed is not important) who appreciates the challenge of regularity route finding and precision time-keeping in a staggeringly beautiful part of the country.
Entries at www.ukalpinechallenge.com
Photo (at Davidstowe) is of our surprisingly reliable Triumph Stag taken from stock and fitted with a Brantz Tripmaster which covered some 500 miles almost trouble-free to prepare the Roadbook for the event.

Posted by Auto Invest, [04/03/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Aston Martins yet again!! At least the hype with Ferraris is sporadic but what is it with Astons that every week produces another 'barn find' gem estimated to make the equivalent of a suburban detached house at some upcoming auction and which then exceeds that figure by a mile? Never mind the small matter of the cost of the restoration which inevitably must follow.
The classic car press is once more hysterical about a DB4 and a DB5 which have supposedly been buried away for some 30 years by entirely seperate owners. The DB4 is estimated to make "around 150" whilst the DB5.....perhaps the same sort of figure? No way Jose, 300,000. The great and good of Bonhams have the honour of selling it and we all know that Messrs Bonhams invariably underestimate top billing cars only to see them disappear into the stratosphere when two wealthy and misguided bidders obstinately refuse to back down. This has happened countless times over recent years and will occur again in May when this DB5 goes on the block at the annual Newport Pagnell madhouse event. Let's suppose that it sells for 350,000, plus Bonhams commission of 18% makes 63,000, plus Vat 12,600 making a total of 425,600 before the restoration has even been considered. Utterly stupid in my view but then I prefer the 1959 Jaguar XK 150 'S' in the photo which we are restoring. Same performance as the DB5, similar 2+2 design from the same era but much, much rarer! Around 1700 DB5's were produced but less than 400 XK150 'S' covering all models. Even at the absolute top end of the XK 150 'S' FHC spectrum, a beauty sells for around 100,000, many multiples less than the Astons. Posted by Auto Invest, [12/02/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge A simple plug for a superb event designed for owners of classic cars to enjoy two days of challenging driving in the beautiful surroundings of Devon & Cornwall, good company, fine food and wine with the added bonus of providing the navigator/co-driver with the real work to be done!
Yes, it is the inaugural running of the UK Alpine Challenge Regularity Rally for classic cars organised by the Alpine Challenge Club which is now well established for the prestige event held each year in the Swiss Alps.
Details at www.ukalpinechallenge.com
In keeping with the Alpine Challenge Club tradition, the emphasis is on FUN combined with a challenging route and special stages plus excellent social side with the overnight stop at the 4 star Saunton Sands Beach Resort Hotel whose view out over Saunton Beach is stupendous.
Very inexpensive by the standards of this type of event so why not give it a try? Experienced regularity rallyists and novices welcome in equal measure.



Posted by Auto Invest, [21/01/2013] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge Welcome to 2013 which will hopefully be a better year weather-wise for all of us classic car owners.
Not a lot to say about the market at this time since it is quiet to say the least. However, Auto-invest bloggers will see that our featured car this week is a Triumph Stag. "Rare and Interesting Classic...."? Well actually, yes. It is a MK 1 and entirely original apart from a set of later alloy wheels which anyway look so much better than the fake Rostyle hubcaps over steel wheels that it would have had originally. It is also a manual of which far fewer were produced than the automatics. Above all it retains the purity of the early Mk 1's- no stripes, chrome sill covers or even door mounted wing mirrors to ruin the undoubtedly graceful lines.
What other full four seater, fully convertible classic sports car/grand tourer can you buy? Rolls Royce Silver Shadow and Alvis TD 21 convertibles spring to mind but good examples of these are 50,000 and 70,000 respectively. Mercedes 3.5 cabriolet? Huge and equally expensive, you will need at least 50,000 for a good one. Which brings us back to the Stag-....and its price? 7790 plus its got that sweet V8 which makes a superb noise and this one has covered just 6,000 since being fully rebuilt.
New Year's bargain.
Any thoughts on Stags generally or this one in particular?


Posted by Auto Invest, [08/01/2013] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge For those who follow this blog on a regular basis, you might get a sense that I have a soft spot for some of the more quirky types of classic machinary, the Allard Quasimodo being an example, now with a new owner in Holland.
Todays blog and photo is of a recent acquisiton which I just could not resist. Dealers are often contacted by relatives of someone who has died leaving behind a classic car needing to be sold. Invariably the car being offered is not of particular interest and on many occasions they are in far from pristine condition, nevertheless I feel that those of us in the trade should try to assist where possible even if only to give advice on value or suggest an outlet for disposal. Last week I went to see a Triumph Stag whose deceased owner had loved and cherished the car since buying it 1988, keeping it Mot'd every year even though the annual mileages seldom exceeded double figures. On agreeing to buy it, his widow mentioned that there was another 'Sports car' in the garage which also needed selling. Visions of sleeping Maseratis flashed through my head but on opening the door I was not at all disappointed to find the little Burlington (sorry 'Triumph') you see in the photo. Key in ignition, pump the accelerator, full choke and it fired straight up with a lovely raspy exhaust note from the competition manifold and short side-exiting tail pipe. Inevitably I bought it on the spot and having now driven it, what a super fun-car it is and what a variety of inexpensive motor sport possibilities it offers for a minimal outlay. Even a superb Christmas present for any desperate wife unable to find a present for their car-mad spouse.
Not so much a kit car but registered as a 1967 Triumph Sports with no mention of Burlington Arrow or the dreaded Q plate anywhere! Under the bonnet does not lurk the usual ubiquitous 1200cc Herald engine that this model used as standard but a 1600cc Ford Pinto OHC, the race tuners dream power plant.
Just like Quasimodo, this type of oddball special represents incredible value in a market where people ask 40,000 for MGA's- so much more exclusive and so much more fun!!
What do you think?


Posted by Auto Invest, [13/12/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Time to revisit that old chestnut 'restoration projects'. This is the time of year when the classic car press and auction houses are hard at work pushing the tantalising opportunity for buyers to embark on "a straightforward winter project to occupy those long evenings". Nothing could be further from the truth.
Restoring an old car is an immensely long and costly process even for those who know what they are doing and for those who have never undertaken it before, the vast majority never reach their nirvana and the vehicle is subsequently advertised or consigned to auction with the sad caption 'unfinished project' or 'abandoned project', often with 'due to unforseen circumstances' thrown in as an attempt at an explanation. This type of project is the very worst of all to take on since someone else has dismantled the original car, probably lost many of the parts along the way and attempted to make repairs which are more often than not unsatisfactory and now need correcting. The original template of the vehicle has gone. Unless a home restorer is prepared to devote many thousands of hours undertaking the work themselves (and learning how to do it in the first instance if they lack the necessary skills at the outset), the only alternative is to simply hand the car over to a professional restorer. With labour rates running at around 60 per hour at many professional establishments, it is not hard to see why restoring an E Type FHC, for example, can cost upwards of 70,000. A friend of mine has done just this- five years on and still unfinished, the car must stand him in at around 55,000 plus the original purchase price measured against a probable market value of around 65,000 with a tail wind! The economics of buying a resto project and having it professionally restored simply do not work except in very exceptional circumstances where a car is of such rarity and high end-value that the project is viable. In all other cases, my advice is if you are not doing it yourself or are not in the business and can more or less judge the viability (there are always surprises and cost overruns even for those of us who restore on a regular basis), go out and buy the car of your dreams in good, sound operating order.
The photo is of a rare Jaguar XK 150 'S' FHC which we are currently 'recommissioning' (oh that it were that simple!) following 37 years storage in a dry garage. Remarkably rust free, it seemed like a straightforward process to get it running and driving again. One year on (!!!) it runs and drives under its own steam and even has front brakes working. It is currently on the ramp dealing with a 'small amount' of corrosion which was visible around the edge of the boot floor. A bit of probing very quickly led to the total collapse of the entire boot floor and rear body mounts revealing extensive corrosion to the rear structure although mercifully the chassis is sound. A 'recommissioning' project estimated to be completed in a few weeks will now continue all winter but at least we can sleep easy in the knowledge that ultimately this car is one of only 76 of the 3.4 'S' models produced of which probably less than half that survive today which makes it rare, valuable and worth all the effort.
What do you think? Any comments on the lure of restoration projects?

Posted by Auto Invest, [01/12/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge From the comments received from various quarters it seems that this years NEC Classic Car show was not quite as good as it could have been. Dealers sales were predictably affected by the very real competition of having an auction to compete with, especially as Silverstone Auctions threw open the doors to all visitors to enter free of charge! This apparently had two negative consequences, firstly it mightily irritated those who had paid to enter the hall previously and secondly it led to a scrum around the cars making it very difficult for serious prospective buyers to inspect them. This is yet another example of an auction company attempting to 'make' the market when in the opinion of many they should reflect it. The claimed 60% sales rate achieved is reasonable in the context of the current climate and time of year but not when you consider the special circumstances which applied at the NEC - a captive audience of some 100,000 attendees!!
For those who regularly view our website it might be puzzling to see the variety of 'modern classics' currently on offer as compared to the more unusual and exotic offerings which traditionally apply. Whilst there are still some very very rare and beautiful classics available from us, I make no apologies for the addition of the 'moderns' The reason is that they represent fantastic value, models which have fully depreciated and are on the cusp of becoming classics in their own right for reasons of being beautiful, limited editions or extraordinarily well built and therefore durable. The 2003 Vauxhall Astra Bertone Cabriolet is a good example (see photo). This is the top of the range 2.2 litre Bertone special edition model luxuriously equipped with aircon, electric hood, black leather trim and it really motors! Forget about the Vauxhall badge (this model actually excludes it anyway on the front grille) and enjoy a really useable and unusual sports cabriolet for 2890. Absurdly good value especially as this one had only covered 52,000 miles in the hands of two owners and comes with a full Service History.
Posted by Auto Invest, [23/11/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge To all our regular visitors to the Auto-Invest stand at the NEC National Classic Car Show, an apology, we shall not be exhibiting there this year. Some of you might miss the interesting selection of cars which we always try to offer, for others it might be the fine wine usually served at around 5.00pm care of my colleague Didier from the Alpine Challenge Club who always assists us at the NEC as well as promoting the Alpine Challenge regularity rally.
The reason for our absence is two-fold. Firstly we are exhibiting for the first time at Epoque Auto classic car show in Lyons, one of the major french events of the year and an entirely suitable venue for the 1933 Hupmobile Roadster which was not only restored in France but retains french registration papers as well as UK ones. Secondly, the 2011 NEC show left much to be desired- too many far off halls linked by long passages, different types of stands mixed uncomfortably together and above all, Top Gear. The claimed increase in visitor numbers can be squarely explained as being due to Top Gear's show, the vast majority of visitors on Saturday and Sunday coming primarily to see the Clarkson & co. This meant that the trade strands were very quiet compared to previous years. The organisers have accepted a lot of the criticism levelled from all quarters for this 'soulless' 2011 show and improvements have been promised for this year including we understand no Top Gear!
We will no doubt return in 2013, meanwhile why not join us in Lyons this weekend where the wine will be even more special. A la prochaine!
Posted by Auto Invest, [06/11/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Interesting that one of the leading classic car publications has picked up on this blogs' comments regarding the superb value offered by the Mercedes SL 129 series- some might even say that they are ludicrously under valued at present. So look out for a quote from this column in due course!
On another note, Quasimodo, the Allard Mercury Ford ex-trials and hillclimb car has departed the UK to a new owner in Holland. Although a healthy percentage of our cars have always found buyers overseas, it does seem strange that such a typically British piece of eccentricity as Quasimodo did not attract more interest from UK buyers, leaving aside the irritation of some members of the Allard Club which Quasimodo seemed to incite (" a disgrace to the badge" being one memorable quote). It certainly attracted lots of comments as regards its asthetics and huge interest wherever it went out but all the serious interest from potential buyers was from either Europe or the USA. (final pic of Quasimodo showing off his 'humps' in profile).
The usual end of year blitz of classic car auctions is almost upon us and aside from the proverbial city-trader bonus-induced splurge one has to ask who is going to buy all those cars? Classic car dealers across the board are reporting a slow market which is supported by the identical stock being offered month after month in the magazine advertisements. Sorry to seem pessimistic but I predict a generally poor performance at auctions for the last two months of this year but lets hope that I am mistaken.
Posted by Auto Invest, [28/10/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Posted by Auto Invest, [05/10/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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It is not often that I agree with anything that the ex-Top Gear presenter and general wheeler-dealer Quentin Willson has to say and certainly cannot be counted as a fan, however his piece in the current edition of Classic Cars Magazine is right on the button. He is extolling the praises of the Mercdes Benz 129 series SL's, the model produced from 1989 to 1996. Likewise, I have been banging on all year about what incredible value these sports car represent so it is gratifying when someone else well established in this industry agrees (even if it is QW).
Forget about the Mercedes Benz quality blip of the late 1990's, the pre 1996 SL's were from an era when Mercedes quality was unmatched, period. The 129's were extremely well engineered and built and customers paid for it with the larger engined models costing over 50,000 twenty years ago. So how is it that the market has disregarded these magnificent machines so carelessly to the point where they are readily available from between 6,000 and 10,000 for good examples? (ignore the huge mileage, blinged-up, after-market alloy shod ones at sub 5K).
The answer is that they fall into that category of being 'old' examples of a modern car now obsolete but too 'new' to yet qualify as full-blown classics in their own right. The same thing happened with the preceeding 107 series SL's which this company was buying from Mercedes dealerships in the late '90's and re-selling them as useable and excellent value sports cars to classic car enthusiasts. The 10,000 107 of a decade ago is now worth 20,000. The same thing applies to the 129's although more so as they are both cheaper (in real terms) and are much better cars!
So take advantage of the two 129's we currently have in stock- a two owner SL500 with over 350 bhp on tap or an SL300 with 106,000 miles and a 21 stamp main dealer Mercedes Benz service history. The prices? 7,900 and 5,900 respectively.
Open roof motoring with the best removable hardtop system ever made plus electric hood, unrivalled luxury interior, unrivalled build quality, 150 mph motoring without fear of breakdown. Ridiculous really!



Posted by Auto Invest, [05/10/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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What a difference a week makes! If we are to consider two of the established classic car auction houses as bell-weathers of the current market, lets take H&H and Brightwells who both offer a reasonable mix of the exotic and abundant at all price ranges.
H&H managed just 30% sales rate at their Newbury race course sale following on from their previous poor 37% a couple of months previously. Brightwells huge catalogue this week achieved an astonishing 80% sales rate including the sale of three Rolls Royce Silver Shadows!! Most prices achieved here were below expectations and therefore moving back towards where auctioin prices should be- i.e below retail. However, there were a few anomalies (or should that be plain foolishness???) A Bugatti 'replica' was estimated at 100,000-150,000 which struck this observer as wishful thinking. Honestly described as being the sum of lots of bits with only a very few parts confirmed as genuine Bugatti (a small section of chassis crossmember, fuel tank, steering wheel, rear springs and radiator cap), it was bought for 270,000. One can imagine the conversation when its proud new owner takes it to a Bugatti meeting.
"Nice car. What year is it?"
"Well, not really sure, no one knows."
"But it is a real Bug?"
"Well, yes and no."
"What is genuine then?"
"Well, a small bit of the chassis and the radiator cap."
"Hmmmm. How much did you say you paid for it?"
Personally, I would rather pay a bit more for the genuine article.
Anyhow, the point is that the results of these two sales demonstrate an instability in the market. Both offered a similarly diverse assortment of models but one bombed while the other boomed. Add this to the relatively lacklustre results of Bonhams recent sale (by their standards anyway and ignore the headline grabbing big figure cars) and it would seem that perhaps the auction phenomena is slowing. Thank goodness.


Posted by Auto Invest, [27/09/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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A rumour circulates that a certain celebrity radio presenter has sold his Ferrari 250 GTO. Acquired some 18 months ago, the car is thought to have been sold on for double the multi million pound original purchase price. Canny investment or luck?
Given the continued strength of the collectors car market (as opposed to the other 'ordinary classic car' market), it stands to reason that a model which is for many the holy grail of collector cars, when one becomes available will sell for whatever the seller thinks up and the buyer has available in those very deep pockets.
Rumours aside, I met a European collector in July who had bought a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing some five years ago- a two owner car from new, the best example he could find. He then proceeded to hand it over to the Mercedes Benz Classiche department in Stuggart with instructions to check the mechanical condition of the entire car and renew anything they considerd the slightest bit doubtful. The final bill cost him more than the original purchase of the car. Assuming five years ago he paid around 250,000 for the Gullwing- top money then- it stands him in today at 500,000, however having seen this car which is unquestionably one of the best available, it is worth at least the 750,000 being asked for top examples at prestige dealerships or indeed a similar afigure being paid at auction when they come on the market!
Again, an excellent investment. The question is when and if it will end. Can prices for the most desirable cars continue rising for ever? What happens when other forms of financial investments become more lucrative, for instance a resurgence of global stock markets or property boom? Might these high value cars then flood the market with disastrous effect? Personally, I believe that cars like the GTO are safe but do wonder if those buyers of 150,000+ Aston DB6's might be having some after thoughts.
In the 'ordinary' classic car market where most of us mere mortals operate, things are decidedly uncertain. Lots of cars being offered at lots of auctions and some amazing prices achieved- 33,000 for a Jaguar Ser 2 XJ6 coupe?!!!- but the sales rate has generally been slowing. H & H's 36% at Donnington must have hurt.

Posted by Auto Invest, [10/09/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Continuing the Pentillie theme from previous blog, for all those who love classic cars Pentillie Festival of Speed was superb , on the Sunday anyway as unfortunately the weather did its worst on the saturday turning this beautiful venue into something resembling the battle of the Somme. However the organisers recovered amazingly well and with a unique system involving three 'rolling paddocks', the racing went ahead in glorious conditions. Thousands of spectators crowded around the cars assembled in front of the castle when taking their turn to park at 'castle paddock' before descending down to the lower paddock on the Tamar where the start was situated. Aside from the superb course- narrow and fast- it reminded many people of Goodwood Revival in the early days before over-commercialisation and overcrowding ruined it.
Anyone noticed anything unusual about classic car auctions over the last few weeks?
Unless I am mistaken, sales rates have dipped rather low- even mighty H&H only managing 36% at Donnington Priory. My interpretation is fairly simple- too many auctions, unrealistically high reserves set by sellers, private buyers finally perhaps beginning to realise that buying at an auction may under present conditions be more expensive than buying form an established trade source or from a private seller without the inherent risks associated with auction purchases. Welcome to rational thinking! This theory is backed up by the low numbers of classic car dealers who are sourcing cars at auction when traditionally the trade has been the mainstay of the auction arena.
Any thoughts on this theme? Anyone want to comment on the company which has had the most effect on the current auction phenomena, those ever-so modest, caring and helpful souls at Bonhams???!!
(photo of the Auto-Invest XK resting between runs at castle paddock, Pentillie).

Posted by Auto Invest, [30/08/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Today's blog is not so much a market commentary but a recommendation to all classic car enthusiasts- particularly of the speed persuasion- to get on down to Pentillie Castle on the banks of the Tamar just outside Plymouth this bank holiday weekend. Link attached- pentilliefestivalofspeed.com.
The owner of Pentillie Castle is launching the first motor sport event there in his attempt to establish a Westcountry version of Goodwood and this weekend will see an MSA sanctioned hillclimb up the mile long drive from the banks of the Tamar to the castle. It promises to be fantasctic- wonderful setting and extremely fast couirse where cars should hit 80 to 90 before slamming on everything to negotiate a 270 degree left hander with negative camber!
The Auto-Invest sponsored XK 140 will be in action on Sunday amongst a grid which contains many very interesting classics including several Fraser Nashes, a lightweight E Type, Healeys, 911 RS and so on.
See you there.
Posted by Auto Invest, [22/08/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Thanks for that comment, Simon.
Yep, he's ugly but as they say, there is a certain beauty in true ugliness. The Allard Club fraternity are not enamoured with it as I discovered when we displayed it on our tsand at last years NEC Classic Car show, hence the "disgrace to the Allard badge" comment. Nevertheless, it attracted huge attention at that show as it does everywhere and in fact I have just agreed a sale to a coolector in Holland. In a way it is a shame that such a quintessentially British piece of eccentricity is leaving our shores but I am sure that Quasimodo will return in due course.
Posted by Auto Invest, [04/08/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Yee haaa!! The Allard Mercury Ford V8 'Quasimodo' rides again following the "little unpleasantness" incident in the Devon lanes in November, Quasimodo has been repaired and now sports an even more elegant snout. I can say from personal experience that this old car is tough- very, very tough- and that makes it an ideal candidate for long distance endurance rallying where durability and simplicity are key requisites. The uncomplicated and robust, low revving, low compression Ford flathead V8 motor makes roadside repairs easy as there is little to go wrong. It even comes with comprehensive weather gear including a hood and side screens in case you get caught in a tropical downpour in the middle of the Kalahari desert (unlikely I will admit).
Relevance to the classic car market? It is unique, that is unique in the correct use of the term rather than as used to describe am MGB which someone believes to be a bit special. Uniqueness means exclusivity so whether you like the style or not you will never encounter another on your travels. Available at around 15% of the value of an Allard J2X and unquestionably rarer!! Even better for those contrarians like me, it has been described by one esteemed member of the Allard owners club as a "disgrace to the Allard badge"- fantastic!
Any views on Quasimodo's looks or indeed any other aspects of this unusual machine?
Posted by Auto Invest, [17/07/2012] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge Thank you to okbeer@163.com for your views on classic cars as an investment- I have approved your blog and will take a momemnt to respond to it.
Firstly, the classic car market as a means of investment opportunity is not comparable to other investment mediums that you refer to such as real estate or indeed stocks & shares, bonds and the whole gamut of paper credit instruments. The vast majority of buyers of premium classic cars do so for the enjoyment of ownership of something rare and special. Few are buying on credit as you suggest- that would be risky as the ownership timeframe is much longer for this type of asset. A secondary benefit is the possibility that, unlike what occurs with modern 'new' car, there is no depreciation- values are either static or in most cases steadily rise. If you have followed my previous blogs on the subject of Aston Martin values (and to a certain extent Ferrari values) over the last two years, you will see that although I personally think that the ever higher prices being paid for indifferent models such as the DB6 are frankly absurd, those who got in and bought even 6 months ago could turn a healthy profit even within that limited time frame. It may be mad but for those with the disposal cash of around 250,000+ buying any 1960's model Aston Martin will earn you money as things stand at present. But as I have also pointed out- I do not think it can last and at some point some'investors' will perhaps take a cold bath.
Returning to the 1933 Hupmobile, when you combine rarity with quality plus open roof motoring from the vintage era plus the benefit of a total A-Z restoration at one of the top European restorers- all for leass than half the cost of the original purchase plus restoration, someone is losing and someone is gaining. The value of this car will steadily increase in line with comparables. It offers everything that many British marques of the era do (c.f Alvis/Bentley/AC) for a fraction of the price plus it is much rarer, this being the only B-316 Roadtser known to be in Europe out of 10 known worlwide.
I suggested that it might end up going to Russia but equally why not China? We sold two classic cars last year to buyers in Hong Kong so that might suggest interest from chinese collectors finally, perhaps bored with the latest Rolls Royce or Ferrari available to anyone with the requisite means. Owning a Hupmobile Roadster would catapult you into the exclusive category of 'unique'- not available at your local dealership for any price!!
Another pic of the super-pretty Hupp
. Posted by Auto Invest, [15/07/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Thanks for that feedback- yes it is elegant!
The Hupmobile was apparently imported from the USA around 2005 by a somewhat eccentric and very wealthy Brit living in France. He sourced the very best example of this rare B-326 Roadtser model that he could find and then gave it to the top French classic car restoration company, l'Atelier des Coteaux, with instructions to restore it totally. After some 100,000 expenditure it is quite simply magnificent. Even some 6 years on from its completion it has only been driven less than 2,000 miles and at the asking price here represents a remarkable investiment opportunity as well as the chance to own a very useable, beautiful and rare vintage automobile.
Is it destined for Russia?!!! Posted by Auto Invest, [12/07/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Sheep. The flock instinct (or the herd instinct if you prefer the cattle analogy).
You might wonder what that has to do with the classic car market but it was my response to a question from an American enthusiast as to why the beautiful and rare 1933 Hupmobile we have had in stock for some time has not yet been sold.
The vast majority of higher-end classic car buyers are drawn to those marques amd models which are in vogue or being hyped by a combination of the classic car press, auction houses and speculative 'investors'. The current Aston Martin phenomenon to give substance to the theory. The relatively plentiful, visually compromised (compared to the purity of the early DB4's) and lacking in performance due to weight and bulk, DB6 should not be worth the 250,000 recently paid for a coupe. There are many better and far cheaper options available. It is the market hype around this model which encourages the herd to follow the perceived wisdom in 'investing' in a DB6 to take advantage of the assured increase in value which is promised.
This is exactly the profit-driven mentality which led to the hyper-inflation of classic car values at the end of the 1980's resulting in the inevitable crash of 1990 and the long, slow decade and a half of recovery that followed. I am not suggesting that the entire market will crash again- it is more mature and there are less institutional players such as the Japanese financial houses that were so heavily involved in the 1980's boom, but I seriously wonder whether the values of some models are becoming downright silly. Which brings us back to the type of rare and unusual, definitely non-hyped type of stock which we prefer such as the Hupmobile. Considering that there are less than ten of these roadsters remaining in the world, that it was restored at a cost in excess of 100,000 and that it is available for less than two thirds of that cost, the same price as a fully restored VW split window camper van (another of the grossly over-hyped brands) surely something has become a bit distorted?
What do you think?
(Photo of the Hupp to emphasise the point)
Posted by Auto Invest, [13/06/2012] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge Once again, I apologise for the absence of new material these last two weeks- must do better!
Aside from the expected madness (some would say stupidity) at Bonhams annual Aston sale, auction results have been for the most part indicative of the market with exceptional cars selling well and the rest either selling at lowish prices or remaining with their owners. The lack of interesting stock at auctions continues to be a problem. Yet there are more classic cars for sale generally than I can remember, literally thousands on the bigger online sites and the specialist magazines packed with them.
From time to time I am asked to give an opinion on the next 'good classic car investment' as if there might be some magic formula which can predict an overlooked model still available at modest cost when millions of others have been blind to its charms! Not so easy but I reiterate earlier comments in this blog that the Mercedes 129 SL's are particularly good value. In addition, with the recent announcement by the Government that it intends to exempt pre-1960 vehicles from an Mot test, this category might well see a slight boost in value as demand picks-up in the short term. Long term, I am sure that just as with the tax-free element, buyers will select a classic car that they really want rather than selection for reasons of savings on road tax or Mot compliance. The change in respect of Mot rules will also certainly give a boost to pre-1960 'projects' since one will theoretically be able to drive that 20 year stored Morris Minor straight out onto the road!! Frightening indeed. As usual, the powers that be have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Instead of creating a simplified Mot test for classics- pre-1960 if you want but preferably pre 1973 to run in parallel with the historic tax status- totally untested and inevitably in some cases dangerous vehicles will now be legally allowed on the road. Whilst the current modern Mot test is ludicrously unsuited and severe towards classic machinary, some type of basic annual check might have been a better idea.
What do you think?
(photo of the XK140 in action at Wiscombe recently- no relevance to the blog but just for fun).
Posted by Auto Invest, [07/06/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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What is it about classic car auctions that often leads to common sense disappearing in the wave of an excited hand towards the auctioneers rostrum?
This blog has regularly expressed both astoishment and bewilderment at the rise and rise of ever more ridiculous prices being paid- at auction- for that over-rated marque, Aston Martin (look out for the annual Bonhams 'barn find' lunacy at Newport Pagnell next month). Now somebody has paid 210,000 for a DB6 Vantage fixed head coupe in far from mint condition albeit with claimed low mileage. H&H are to be congratulated on their success, after all they are only doing their job, but what a huge amount of money to spend on such a car. At the same sale a series 1 E Type roadster sold for 58,000 which is bang on the money and exactly right. Give me 3 & 3/4 E type roadsters in place of one DB6 any day. Another inexplicably high price was the 28,000 paid for a Jensen Interceptor Ser.3. Anyone for a bargain?
Similarly at Chaterhouse's Bristol Classic Car Show auction, the mainly 'everyday' classic stock was for the most part making the same money for which you could buy similar and probably better examples from both private and trade sellers outside of an auction arena with all its attendant risks and limitations. Example- 9,600 for an 80,000 mile Triumph TR6 stored for many years, restored in the past and now needing at least a 50% restoration once again, not in running condition (suspected problems with that notoriously well engineered Lucas injection system). What madness and what a risk at that money. Good, on the road, well restored examples are everywhere for around 10,000!!
And that is the point. Buying at auction has traditionally been the preserve of the brave and the trade. The brave (or foolhardy) private buyer is prepared to risk it because he believes that he is buying at prices well below 'the market' and therefore the lack of possibility for any meaningful testing of the vehicle is compensated by the perceived lower prices. The trade should know what they are doing and can more easily assess condition based on limited information. They must buy well below the market to ensure that the costs involved in preparing cars for the standards needed for retail sale and their end profit are covered. With such high prices being paid by buyers at auctions, most sensible dealers are simply keeping their hands firmly in their pockets and smiling wryly.
Any views on this subject? All comments most welcome even if you disagree totally with the foregoing!



Posted by Auto Invest, [22/04/2012] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge One often hears talk within the classic car world about what will be the 'next big investment' and indeed for both private investors and classic car dealers identifying an undervalued model which subsequently climbs can be very satisfying as well as financially rewarding.
This commentator believes that the time is ripe for the Mercedes Benz 129 series SL roadsters to rise in value. Values have been declining for years as these early 1990's Supercars have grown old and been superceded by subsequent series whilst their predecessors the 107 series SL's have become established classic cars in their own right. This company was one of the first to regularly hold a stock of 107's aimed at classic car buyers back in the late 1990's when they were largely considered as obsolete 'modern' cars regularly traded in against newer models at large MB franschises. Ten years ago you could buy a good, sub 100,000 mile 107 series for under 10,000, today you would need double that figure or more.
The 129 series will follow the same path (and it is a much better car than its predecessor) - it has reached the bottom of its depreciation curve. Cars of this quality which cost around 50,000 twenty years ago, offering both open and closed roof motoring with unrivalled power, reliability and build quality cannot remain in the sub-10,000 bracket for much longer.
The SL500 we have currently in stock is a good example to underline the point- 3 owners from new, 78,000 miles, top of the range specification, 8,900- yes 8,900!
Point made? Don't get crushed in the stampede.
Posted by Auto Invest, [15/03/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge Overheating classic car market? Not from this commentator's perspective although there are some continuing signs of isolated lunacy. I refer of course to the obsession with anything relating to that highly overrated brand Aston Martin. Congratulations to H&H for achieving the staggering price of 242,000 for a DB6 Automatic Coupe- yes, automatic and fixed head coupe! I genuinely hope that it fulfils all expectations for its new owner. Personally, with a quarter of a million pounds to invest in classic machinary, give me 5 Jaguar E Type series 1 convertibles over a DB6 automatic anyday. Something is not quite right when such an inferior car reaches such giddy heights of speculative buying.
Photo of the real mackoy to underline the point.
Anyone disagree?!!
Posted by Auto Invest, [02/03/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Fair comment and all views are welcome! I am not an expert on any replicas but I would add that there seems to be a distinct difference in quality between early Dax's built at DJ Sportscars and later ones built by succeeding holders of the brand. Posted by Auto Invest, [28/02/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge The beautiful AC Cobra Dax Tojeiro is now sold and staying in this country, rather unusual for our classic stock over recent years. What this sale shows is that quality matters a lot. As discussed in previous blogs, there are many Cobra replicas on the market from a large number of manufacturers, some better than others. What made this car unusual is the 'Ace' style narrow wheel arch bodyshell (one of only 10 made by Dax) sobre BRG paintwork, wire wheels and elegant yet 'used' feel to it, much as you would expect to find on a genuine 50 year old AC Cobra. So many interested potentail buyers made the same point- lovely to see an example without the muscled-up, beefcake 'stripes and bulges' look so frequently found. Our car being over 30 years old is already a classic in its own right, so what do other potential buyers of this type and style of Cobra do when so few exist on the market? One manufacturer still produces the Ace style replica, Hawk Cars, the downside being that they are expensive compared to just about all other current AC Cobra replicas, a good one costing in the region of 28,000- 35,000.
So congratulations to the shrewd buyer of our car advertised at 23,900 who did his research, studied the various models available and bought below the market!
What do you think? Posted by Auto Invest, [16/02/2012] - 1 reply to this post
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Posted by , [29/01/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge How ironic that the ex-Sprinzel Mini Marcos which we have had for sale for some time has suddenly 'come alive' with interested purchasers. In fact it is now sold and destined to join a very fine European classic car collection. I am glad that this humble little hot-hatch will live alongside cars most of which are worth more than 100 times more than the Marcos. That said, it represents a genuine bargain to the astute buyer who is not only getting an entirely useable and rare Mini derivative for a third of the price of a comparable Cooper 1275 S but also the Sprinzel/Speedwell factor at no additional cost. The genuine Sprinzel badge so kindly provided by John Sprinzel himself which now once again adorns the tail alongside the Speedwell badge is the correct finishing touch to this car.
Anybody want to comment on Mini Marcos's? Posted by Auto Invest, [26/01/2012] - 0 replies to this post
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Happy Christmas to all who follow the Auto-Invest blog.
Back to analysis of the classic car market. There were those who, earlier in the year, predicted dire consequences for the market as a result of perceived serious 'overheating' in the prices of many classic cars. I myself predicted unsustainable auction prices for relatively plentiful models such as E Type Jaguars and a review of auctions results for second half of 2011 would seem to reflect this trend. Auction prices have definitely dropped back to more sensible levels and leaving aside the rarified fantasyland of the 500,000+ market place where purchases appear to be driven largely by speculative considerations, the asking prices for most mainstream classics would seem to be generally realistic. This may change in the coming year if even tougher economic forces apply resulting in both dealers and private sellers forced to off-load in order to raise funds. Increased supply with decreasing demand can only mean one thing- falling prices. Let's hope not.
However, reading the latest edition of one of the premium classic car monthlys, I do sympathise at the imagined reaction of someone new to the classic car world who perhaps has the money to indulge a long held dream to own one of the truly great pre-war sportscars, a Jaguar SS100. Such a sought after model is never found for sale in very high numbers therefore our buyer might be delighted that in the Christmas issue of the said magazine, two SS 100's are available from prestige dealers within two pages of each other. But why is one for sale at 280,000 whilst the other which has the more desirable 3.5 ltr engine can be bought for just 180,000? Both are described as having been restored although the 'cheap' one lacks history. Confusing for our novice buyer but the question must surely be asked, assuming no other significant distinguishing factors, is 'history' worth 100,000? And what about the value of the bigger engine in the cheaper car?
More confusion arises for the novice buyer of a more modestly priced classic icon, the Isetta bubblecar. For my own part, I have never understood the attraction of these weird late 50's mopeds with a bit of bodywork, sputtering along at 30 mph to the limits of their miniscule, shrieking 300cc two stroke engines whilst the occupant is deafened and roasted in equal measure. Anyway, assuming someone did want to buy one of these contraptions- not to use of course but simply to look at- he might be forgiven for asking why the two examples on offer in the same magazine are priced at 8,000 and 28,000 respectively!!- once again, both apparently restored cars. Even assuming a degree of difference in the quality of the restoration would it really take a further 20,000 to bring the cheaper one upto the level of the other? When one considers how tiny these things are, I don't think so, which brings us back to asking prices in the current market. For the most part sensible but take note of the clearly ridiculous particularly where sufficient numbers are on offer to allow comparisons, something which our own stock does not usually allow given that just about everything is unique or very very rare (photo of the truly unique 'Quasimodo' Allard to prove the point) !
What do you think?



Posted by Auto Invest, [26/12/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Click to Enlarge 1928 Chrysler Imperial Le Baron Club Coupe- one of 25 built and one of two known remaining- a true example of a "rare" car! Posted by Auto Invest, [24/12/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Thank you for the positive comments in respect of the previous blog on the subject of the blatant overuse and mis-use of the term 'Rare' in the current classic car market. However, whilst my comments have obviously struck a cord with several correspondents I have also been challenged to further define what 'rare' should be, if you like, to quantify it.
Difficult to lay down rules but since many of todays classic car buyers are new to this sector, perhaps a clearer definition might assist- purely a personal view of course.
Given that most classic car models can be numbered in the hundreds or thousands, to qualify as rare should represent a model measuring a fraction of that figure, i.e tens of units. But caution is needed with such a simplistic definition! To use a specific example of a make and model which although numerous in pure number terms, thousands remain extant, almost all the very desirable Derby Bentleys are 'rare'. The most numerous model produced was the 3.5 litre 'standard' Park Ward four door saloon of which hundreds remain- not at all rare. The model is further broken down by other coachbuilders (Hooper, Gurney Nutting, James Young, Barker etc) and by different style of coachwork (saloon, DHC, Sedanca, Coupe etc) and amongst these some models are a lot moire numerous than others both as a result of very limited original production or due to low survival rates. Anything below 10 is undoubtedly rare, anything above 25 is not in my view. Multiplicity of coachbuilder and body style make an otherwise realtively numerous model rare.
Tip for newby classic car purchasers- put sellers description of their cars as being 'rare' to the test- how many of exactly that model remain? If more than 25, it should not be described as rare. A photo of the unquestionably rare 1928 Chrysler Imperial Le Baron Club Coupe which we have in stock is attached to add credence to this definition.
What do you think?
Posted by Auto Invest, [23/12/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Recreations or the genuine article? I have never really given much thought to replicas, or 'recreations' as they are now quaintly known as, however having fallen for a well used and genuinely patinated AC Cobra Dax Tojeiro, the question is worth exploring. Replicas tend to follow some of the most classic, beautiful and therefore valuable models ever produced such as Jaguar C & D Types, AC Cobras, Ferrari GTO's etc. In recent years companies have started offering replica E Types and Austin Healeys presumably sensing a market for buyers of these iconic cars who are unable to afford the current high prices for the geunine article.
So back to our AC Cobra. A genuine narrow wheel arch AC Ace from the early 1960's will set you back at least 120,000 and will be powered by either the Ford Zephyr straight six or a similar capacity Bristol 'six' engine, adequate but not exactly tarmac burning stuff. Almost all the quality AC replicas use either the Rover 3.9 litre V8 or for the more muscular wide wheel arch versions, the small and big block American Ford V8's all the way up to the mighty 7.0 litre gut-wrencher. In theory then, the replicas outperform all but the most powerful of the genuine ones and asthetically a good replica follows the lines of the genuine car very closely.
Are they good value? Unquestionably yes, in this writer's opinion. For a fraction of the price of the unaffordably expensive genuine article, you get the experience of driving a beautiful classically shaped sportscar which performs superbly and, in the case of our own Rover engined example, is easy and inexpensive to maintain. Added to which, this particular car is now 22 years old and after 62,000 miles has that lived-in feel of an older car. Some might prefer the 'as new' look and feel of the miriad low mileage examples which are available but conversely that is precisely why this one appealed so much to me- dark colour, no stripes, painted wires, not flashy! Value wise, these cars will never be worth a fortune and should be seen as offering immediate fun and practicality of use rather than as investments although the good ones from manufacturers such as Dax Tojeiro will certainly not diminish in value either. Treat yourself- 23,000 buys a great experience!
Comments welcome.
Posted by Auto Invest, [07/12/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Another NEC Classic Motorshow completed and after innumerable conversations over three days with journalists, other dealers, enthusiasts and owners, it is clear that interest in classic cars remains very strong indeed. However buyers remain cautious, torn between the ease of accessibility of funds in zero interest savings accounts (actually losing money with inflation running at 5%pa) and the lure of a classic car purchase which will not only givve pleasure of use but may well offer an increase in capital value over time. And that is the key point- which car to choose and how long to keep it.
From this commentators standpoint, rarity above all else, followed closely by quality, then useability then personal pleasure in the acquisition. Even if it represents a great investment but you do not like the car, do you really want to buy it?
Should you follow the crowd and buy Ferrari/Aston/Bentley where so much price inflation has taken place over the last three years? I would suggest not, unless you can afford one of the very rare, even unique, models where supply always outstrips demand. As we have seen with E Type Jaguars, prices will come down when driven artificially high by hype-created marketing and supplies remain plentiful. Recently acquired Aston DB6 owners beware!!
Once again I come back to a specific example from stock- the 1933 Hupmobile Roadster. super-rare, 10 remain worldwide, it was restored at a cost of 100,000+ and is now for sale at almost half that cost to the benefit of the next owner, beautiful lines, very useable post-vintage motoring capability, undoubted future capital investment growth potential. It really is an opportunity in the current economic climate, lets' see who takes it up.

Posted by Auto Invest, [15/11/2011] - 1 reply to this post
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Click to Enlarge A photo of the Mini Marcos as it is now- used to promote the 2011 Alpine Challenge regularity rally for classic cars. Posted by Auto Invest, [05/11/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Lots of contact received on the subject of the Mini Marcos and its recently confirmed Speedwell competition past. Would be great to see some photos of it rallying in 1972 with John Sprinzel at the wheel - can anyone help? It was apparently never painted at that time but competed in a dull beige gel-coat!


Posted by Auto Invest, [02/11/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Here is an example of the power of the internet to relay information. Apologies if some find this too 'home-grown'.
The Mini Marcos 'Speedwell' we have for sale, when stripped for repainting some months back, showed clear evidence of having had a roll cage in it at some time which in addition to the extra capacity twin radiator cooling system, comprehensive instrumentation and of course the unquestionably genuine Speedwell badge on its rear end, all suggests a competition past in some type of motorsport.
A call this week from an ex-BRM engineer and former racer who was casually trawling the web looking at interesting classic cars has now confirmed the early race history of the little Marcos! This car was built for no lesser ace saloon car racer than John Sprinzel, one of the founding partners of Speedwell Tuning, by this same engineer at their Lancaster Mews base. The new 'extended' Mk IV bare shall was ordered to cater for the 6' 6" frame of the very tall Sprinzel and the drivers seat located where the rear seats would normally be! A custom steering system was made, full Speedwell A series race engine apparently rated at 130bhp, 8" wide wheels, specially made drive shafts. The car was used by Sprinzel in a number of rallies before being sold sometime in 1972. But before it left Speedwell, the engineer who built it took it to Brands Hatch to see what it could do on a circuit and it apparently proved to be very quick indeed. He also informed us that Speedwell built another Mini Marcos shortly after completion of this one but it was destroyed very soon after in a fire.
So there we have it. From suspecting that this little car had been tuned by Speedwell at some point in the distant past, we now know that it was built by them for the boss to use in competition and is the sole surviving Speedwell Mini Marcos. All thanks to the power of the internet to provide information.
How does this affect the sale of the Mini Marcos? How does the addition of such interesting and unique history affect its value? What premium does race history put on a vehicle? Is it important or not of any consequence?
All comments most gratefully received.




Posted by Auto Invest, [28/10/2011] - 2 replies to this post
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Thanks to those who have contacted me regarding the last blog on auction prices- including a certain classic car magazine editor- very pleasing to know that I am not just talking to myself!
Leaving aside the state of the classic car market for a moment, I want to have a moan about the rampant overuse of the term 'rare' to describe just about every classic car one sees advertised for sale today. Dictionary definitions of the term rare include 'uncommon, unusual, few & far between exceptional, seldom found or occurring' etc etc. So how can a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow possibly qualify as being rare? To the seller of one such car currently advertised, it obviously does although he is probably deluding himself.
Nevertheless, far too many dealers and private sellers are guilty of inflating their descriptions by adding the adjective 'rare' to cars which are patently not nor ever will be. Can an E Type Jaguar be called rare? In my opinion no, apart from a handful of genuine lightweights all the rest are from a total production of some 80,000 of which tens of thousands survive. Lovely cars but not rare. What is truly rare then? A Ferrari GTO qualifies- only about 20 made but so do some unlikely candidates not due to low production numbers but because of low survival rate. The barn find Triumph Gloria currently in our stock is unquestionably rare despite many thousands being produced during the 1930's simply because according to the Pre-war Triumph Register, only 9 saloons remain with their original bodywork. Similarly, our 1928 Chrysler Imperial Le Baron Club Coupe is ultra-rare by both qualifications for the term- only 25 ever made and only two survive!
So lets hope for slightly less 'rare' descriptions for cars where plentiful supply is available and perhaps a little more imagination in highlighting other undoubted qualities which might interest a buyer.
What do you think? Posted by Auto Invest, [19/10/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Apologies once again to those who follow this blog as it has not been updated for several weeks. Will try to do better!
Thanks to those contributors who voiced their opinions on the subject of auctions prices and I should like to expand that theme once again as it is fundamental in trying to understand where the classic car market is heading.
The remarkable prices being achieved in the USA at premium classic car auctions might be easily explained as a mixture of both wealthy classic car collectors and wealthy non-classic car enthusiasts chasing so-called blue-chip investment quality cars as an alternative to risky stocks and shares or low interest paying traditional financial investments. As with gold in times of economic turbulence, if you can touch it and lock it away, you sleep better!
But the top end of the market for cars above 100,000 is one thing, the lower end where the vast majority of the auctions entries come from is something different. There, this commentator perceives a notable change. Over the summer, results at H&H, Brightwells, Barons, Siverstone and Brooklands sales have rarely exceeded 50% sales rate and whilst the auction companies continue to highlight one or two very significant prices achieved at each sale, the trend to realistic prices and relatively low sales rate is undeniable. That is good for all of us. Auctions involve a lot of risk for buyers which must be reflected in lower prices than much safer retail purchases from a reputable dealer where you have the opportunity to drive and test the car of your interest. I would even go as far as to suggest that a reasonable risk factor which one should apply to an auction purchase might be 30% to 50%. Hard to explain then the lunacy which took place at the one exception to the aforementioned trend- Bonhams- at their Beaulieu sale in september where a selection of dilapidated cars from three collections were bid to ridiculous levels by punters who could have bought much better examples of those marques at much lower prices by walking 50 metres to the Automart. And that is before we add in Bonhams famous buyers premium of 15% plus Vat (18%)!! Yet they still achieved an astonishing 95% + sales rate at Beaulieu, defying a distinct trend at the lower end of the market.
What do you think?

Posted by Auto Invest, [06/10/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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Welcome to the Auto-Invest blog! Comments about to anything to classic cars will be redily accepted, scammers, advertisers, canvassers etc - best abstain.
Where is the classic car market going at this turbulent moment of the current global economic uncertainty? Classic car prices have been rising steadily for the last three years across all categories and in particular in the +100,000 range.
Can it last? I doubt it, with for some notable exceptions, for a number of reasons linked to basic economic principles. Is an E Type Jaguar worth either 120,000 (series 1 roadster0 or 100,000 (series 1 FHC) when from a total production of some 80,000, many tens of thousands still survive? At any given time I would guess that there are at least 1000 E Types for sale globally (please disprove this guesstimate if you can) which means that supply and demand will determne the market. Recent prices for E Types at two large UK auctions prove the point- a superb series 1 roadster at Brightwells estimated at a very conservative 65,000-75,000 struggled to achieve 53,000 which seems like a bargain compared to the ludicrously expensive H&H series 1 FHC at 70,000 in february!
Only the very rare and the very special will survive an inevitable correction in the market which I believe will occur over the next few months as disposable income tightens and the unjustified inflation of values of many marques settles back. A crash, almost certainly not, but some form of correction very probably.




Posted by Auto Invest, [11/08/2011] - 0 replies to this post
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