APR 08th 2015

Edward Legge ‑ The Future Of Classic Cars

People keep telling me that there is only a limited supply of classic cars. This fact is invariably wheeled out during discussions on why classic car prices will remain high and more often than not finds a home in sentences that also contain adjectives such as “rare” and “unobtainable”. The thing is, it seems to me that the supply of classic cars is far from limited – in fact, they just keep on building them.

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By the end of the 1920’s there were around 30 million vehicles in use around the world – we now produce just under 90 million every year. Ferrari production numbers have swelled from a few hundred cars a year in the mid sixties to around 7000 a year and Porsche manufactured nearly 170,000 cars in 2013. Now I’m not suggesting that all of these will be classics (although on the basis that Mondial prices keep rising I could be wrong), but there will definitely be a lot more choice and I reckon that we will be in with a fighting chance of running out of oil before we run out of cool old cars.

So, it doesn’t look like there is too much danger that we are going to run short of future classics, but what are the potential dangers that might derail the classic car movement? The obvious one is environmental control and while being prevented from driving your classic in the centre of Paris or London in the near future might be irritating, it seems inevitable that the internal combustion engine is going to fall foul of global regulators sooner or later. Low or zero-emissions vehicles such as the current crop of hybrid hypercars or a Tesla would therefore seem like a good choice for your classic car collection, if you actually have any ambitions to drive rather than simply display a classic in the future. Let’s hope the manufacturers can keep their technology and emissions ahead of the curve of regulation. They might also get you around the problem of fuel shortages – not caused by the planet’s oil reserves drying up, but by a scarcity of fuel stations actually serving up octane rather than electrons and hydrogen. I’ll wager that the biggest threat is human, though.

‘Despite the threat to classic cars from humanity, I think the future looks bright. In years to come there will be more great classic cars to buy, less competition for them and hopefully on that basis some sensibly priced cars.’

The motor industry is already wrestling with the possibility that Millenials are more interested in their smart phones than cars, and that those who actually are into cars can’t afford them anyway. This allows us to segue (or should that be segway?) neatly onto the ‘computer says no’ technical skills that seem to be replacing the more traditional mechanical skills needed to keep an old car going. Imagine someone from the Playstation generation plugging a 25-year-old laptop into your 25-year-old Porsche 918 Spyder and suggesting that you try changing the battery pack as a starter for 10… At this politically charged time I hardly dare mention the elephant in the room that is capital gains tax and a shiver ran down my spine when Nick Clegg bought it up in the leaders debate.

Despite the threat to classic cars from humanity, I think the future looks bright. In years to come there will be more great classic cars to buy, less competition for them and hopefully on that basis some sensibly priced cars – it’s just a pity we probably won’t be allowed to drive them or able to fix them economically.

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

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