A good friend of mine recently went to trade in his 2010 Land Rover Defender for a new Range Rover. To his surprise, he was advised to keep the car as, according to the Land Rover main dealer, they are going up in value. Apparently farmers across the UK are parking them up in their barns (future barn-finds?) under a dust sheet in anticipation of the end of production in December 2015. I have to confess expressing a moderate amount of cynicism at the time – even franchised dealers seem to be offering automotive investment advice these days.
We spot buying patterns very quickly in my line of work. When there’s a run of enquiries and transactions on a specific vehicle, we know the market for that car is heating up – and we’ve had such a run on classic Land Rovers and Range Rovers over the last couple of months. Both vehicles defy traditional thinking when it comes to values – neither are rare, prices are all over the place and, judging by recent auction results and dealer prices, originality doesn’t seem to be that important to buyers.
“Most classic Land Rover vehicles will have had a hard life either as a work horse or long-suffering Chelsea tractor, and if you find one in excellent, rust-free condition then it’s almost certainly had paint (and recently)”
Range Rover 001 sold at auction for £132,000 including premium in September and some Series 1 Land Rovers in the right condition are changing hands for over £35,000 – although average prices are very much lower. A 1994 Range Rover 4.2 LSE sold for an amazing £33,750 at the NEC Classic Car Show auction, way over the estimate. It’s all part of the Land Rover charm that you can pick up the same vehicles for only a few thousand pounds, albeit in more Landie-like condition.
Most classic Land Rover vehicles will have had a hard life either as a work horse or long-suffering Chelsea tractor, and if you find one in excellent, rust-free condition then it’s almost certainly had paint (and recently). When I was selling them, Defenders used to rust in the showrooms…
So why are people spending so much money on old Land Rovers? It’s Britain’s unofficial ‘national vehicle’, universally loved despite their foibles and everyone has a Land Rover tale to tell. The designs, both inside and out, are timeless, functional and familiar and, let’s be honest, we all feel pretty cool driving around in an old Landie or Range Rover.
So Classic Land Rover ownership represents a fantastic opportunity to own and enjoy an iconic vehicle that may also offer significant increases in value. Look for limited editions (which Land Rover did relatively few of) such as the 50th Anniversary Edition Defender which are attracting more and more interest and offer the most potential.
I sold five of the 385 UK 50th Anniversary cars from new and regretted it very shortly afterwards when owners began trying to trade them back in only months later as crippling fuel economy, relatively poor performance and terrible wind noise (noticeable due to the lack of a noisy diesel engine) took their toll.
It’s the only time I’ve ever seen a Defender doing anything quickly – unfortunately the activity in question was depreciating, something they normally manage to do pretty slowly due to a perfect mix of utility and longevity. They’re now changing hands for more than they cost new (£26,950). Original Camel Trophy vehicles, ex-military stock, the three door Range Rover CSK and the legendary polished aluminium Jubilee Series 3 have all got to be worth a look, too.
It will be a sad day when the last Defender rolls off the production line nearly 70 years after the first Land Rovers trundled into the countryside. What effect it will have on values in the long term seems almost certain in a post-Defender world – wouldn’t it be great if Land Rover decides to sell the last ever car to a customer rather than consigning it to their heritage collection?
Edward Legge is Director of Commercial Development at Classic and Sports Finance