NOV 12th 2014

Investing in hen’s teeth... is it actually worth it?

Read the description of many of the classic cars for sale today and you will see two words in the description – ‘rare’ and ‘investment’ – and it’s these two words that are currently driving a super-heated market.

There’s no doubt that the investment potential of classic cars is one of the attractions of ownership, and the key indicator which seems to point to this potential for most buyers and sellers is rarity – and apparently there are a lot of rare cars out there. A quick glance through the classifieds reveals literally hundreds of rare cars for sale promising ‘investment potential’ and many of them at the irresistible price of £POA.

‘It’s worth remembering that in many cases descriptions would be more accurate if they made use of phrases like obscure and undesirable’

A case in point, a client called last week to get us involved in the purchase of a car of which only a lowly 600 were built – rare indeed – but it took a lot less than 600 seconds to unearth six cars for sale in the UK alone, so I suppose we can consider that car rare but ‘readily available’.

Nothing illustrates the desire to describe a car as rare better than the mouthful that is the Series 1, external bonnet catch, flat-floor E-type. Invariably described as the most desirable of the breed, have you ever stopped to wonder why this might be so?

‘Rarity is all too often seen as the magic ingredient that bestows investment potential on vehicles … but investments can go down as well as up’

The external bonnet catch and flat floor were both features of the car that Jaguar quickly disposed of in favour of more practical solutions, so why the cars with the design flaws are more desirable than the better sorted, later cars is anybody’s guess. The answer of course is rarity – like the proverbial hen’s tooth there aren’t so many of them around, and that must be better, right (even though there is no practical or aesthetic benefit)?

Rarity is all too often seen as the magic ingredient that bestows investment potential on vehicles that are for sale and we noted recently that every single car on a dealer website was described as having ‘investment potential’ although we didn’t notice any legal blurb reminding us that investments can go down as well as up…

It’s worth remembering that in many cases descriptions would be more accurate if they made use of phrases like ‘obscure’ and ‘undesirable’ rather than ‘rare’ and that there is an element of risk in every investment, even Hen’s Teeth.

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

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