We’re at a special time. Classic cars are no longer just a hobby for stereotypical older gents with an MG Midget in the garage, grease on their hands and a pricey RAC membership. Eighties and nineties babies are grown up, have a bit of disposable income burning a hole in their pockets, and have a new perspective on things. That nineties supercar you had on your bedroom wall? Guess what, there are a few still knocking around, and one day you could be a proud owner. What’s even better is you can own it, enjoy it, AND make money from it. What a proposition! But you’ve got to start somewhere, and you’ve got to pick the right car.
Exclusivity plays a huge role in determining the future value of a car. One of the first things to check when researching which car to buy is how many were originally produced worldwide, for your home country, and over what time period. Good news, this should be fairly easy to do. There’s a wealth of information online to help you out here. Some examples to benchmark against:
- Ferrari F40 – 1,315 produced between 1987 and 1992
- BMW E46 M3 CSL – 1,383 produced between 2002 and 2003
- Ford Escort Cosworth RS – 8,082 produced between 1992 and 1996
- BMW E39 M5 – 20,482 produced between 1998 and 2003
- Renault Williams Clio – 12,100 produced between 1993 and 1995
- Audi Quattro – 11,452 produced between 1980 and 1991
- Ferrari Enzo – 400 produced between 2002 and 2004
What’s also incredibly important, and perhaps even more relevant, is how many are left on the road today. Once again, the internet makes life easy for us! Check out this website to find out how many are remaining on UK roads today. You’ll see the gradual decline over the years along with the number of vehicles on a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). The lower the better for the seller!
It’s absolutely essential to check every last detail with cars beyond 15 years of age, and make sure you go in prepared with a knowledge of common problems. Print out your checklist and make sure you tick every box, or it may end up being a very unwise investment. Mileage and service history are a good indicator and will have a significant influence on the future resale value, but even these don’t tell you everything. Be 100% sure you’re happy before handing over any money.
Adding the aftermarket ‘big boy’ exhaust system and enormous rear wing may have looked and sounded great to the previous owner, but let’s face it, car manufacturers knew what they were doing when they styled your car. Every line and curve is there for a reason. Originality is the name of the game, and that’s what serious car investors will be looking for. People will pay huge premiums for unmolested examples, so keep your car in factory condition as much as possible.
The one that puts so many off… ‘what if’. Checking repair and spare part costs is an important part of the process and should be done before deciding which car to buy. It goes without saying that your BMW parts are going to be more expensive than your Ford parts, but also consider what work you can do yourself to save on labour. Not a necessity, but it will help if you can at least do the basics. There are YouTube tutorials nowadays for almost everything, so it’s worth learning and will put you in good stead for the future.
Price When New
How much was the car worth when it rolled off the production line? It’s a good yardstick, and if the current value is still well below that there’s a good chance it could head back that way, and even beyond in some cases. If a car was deemed overpriced when it was released and didn’t sell well as a result, it could be good news for you now!
Does the car you’re looking at have a cult following? If so, the chances are its value will head skywards sooner or later. Let’s take fast Fords as an example. They have their own magazine, a huge presence at car shows up and down the country, and an enormous online following. Sometimes people will love whatever their favourite manufacturer puts in front of them, so if you spot one of these for a bargain it’s a decent bet!
There have been a number of ground-breaking cars throughout history that have changed the motor industry forever, which allows these rare breeds to proudly hold their heads above the rest. And yep, you guessed it, they’re now hugely desirable for car collectors across the globe. Think the Audi Quattro in the eighties; a turbocharged four wheel drive GT car with space for people and luggage. Think the original Mazda MX-5 (or Miata in the US); an affordable, pokey, fun two seater roadster which had a huge impact on an entire generation of motorists. Looking to the present day, the likes of the BMW i8 and the Tesla Model S are both potential future classics as the first real viable electric cars.
Of course, there’s no absolute formula for success in this game, but these considerations will absolutely help you along the way to identifying which car is right for you. It’s easy to be seduced by a car when in the buying phase, but always take a step back and scrutinise your decision before handing over any money. You’ll thank yourself in the long term, and so will your bank manager.