NOV 19th 2014

Business is (baby) booming?

I’ve spent the last few weeks airing some views on classic car sales and crazy prices that some will agree with and others take objection to, but to my amazement there hasn’t been a queue of owners, dealers and auction houses banging on the office door with pitchforks and flaming torches – in fact most of them seem to agree. This is good news for me and good news for the industry in general and a visit to the Classic Car Show at the NEC reminded me why.

“Bernie Ecclestone may not think much of the youth of today with their limited spending power and social media addictions but Porsche and Jaguar certainly understand their potential”

The Classic Car Show is big. According to the organisers, there were over 250 classic car clubs and 600 traders and exhibitors (although rather fewer dealers than I was expecting) as well as a big two-day auction, a hell of a lot of people and a not insignificant queue to get in on the M42. By the time I arrived on Day One there were even some ‘sold’ signs on cars (which came as less of a surprise than the fact that many of the cars actually had prices on them for once – no doubt ‘this weekend only’….). Classic cars are big business and this was highlighted by the presence of two manufacturers at the show – Porsche and Jaguar (other manufacturers are available).

Both have done a great job of putting customers in touch with their heritage as well as their future and seeing  the new Lightweight E-type and a selection of classic Porsche’s freshly restored by UK Porsche Centres demonstrated an impressive commitment to existing and future customers. Bernie Ecclestone may not think much of the youth of today with their limited spending power and social media addictions but Porsche and Jaguar certainly understand their potential and it’s the investment in the future of classic cars that is important – not necessarily just the investment potential of individual cars.

The good news is that we seem to have enough momentum and support behind the industry to cope with any potential setbacks created by a superheated market. Chatting with a client who had paid around 10% of the price of the Ferrari Daytona in front of us at the show was a stark reminder of the importance of the long game, and he has no intention of selling.

One of the interesting developments at the show was the increasing activity of online classic car value indices and ‘experts’ – who knows what effect these could have on prices in the future? There were some interesting results at Silverstone Auctions’ Classic Motor Show Sale and we’ll need to let the Classic & Sports Finance supercomputer run for a few more cycles on a batch of recent auction results to highlight any meaningful trends, but on the face of it the less expensive, more modern lots (eg the 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo) fared better than the pricier, older ones.

Whether an auction-prices-by-subscription service will add any weight or real market intelligence to classic car valuation  is anyone’s guess – here’s hoping they can add something new, and more importantly, useful.

Edward Legge is Director of Commercial Development at Classic and Sports Finance

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