Mazda’s time has come
Scarcity of good early MX-5s is driving demand. Yes, that's right, a car so successful and therefore so ubiquitous that you assumed it existed in endless supply has been quietly succumbing to rust, neglect or just simply wearing out.
This was the introduction to pure, simple roadster driving pleasure for a generation, and it's now hard to find pristine, low-mileage examples of the pre-1994 cars, hence the growing premium on prices. Now's the time to seek out a good one and keep it that way.
Triumphs on the move
The Herald convertible’s sharp Michelotti lines are in vogue as new buyers look for the crisp, clean look of the Sixties. It's also a doddle to own, with comprehensive parts availability and easy-to-maintain mechanicals.
With prices of a highly usable 13/60 models up 12% to £7k for the best, and needs-nothing examples up around £4500, they're still accessible. Tidy cars in need of smartening start around £2000, but they're less likely to move as much as buyers increasingly want to avoid expensive restoration work.
Price winners and losers
The top 63 price climbers and top eight fallers are revealed in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine.
Leading the charge is the disarmingly stylish Mercedes-Benz 300 SE Cabriolet, up by a shocking 88%. So entry level for a project needing a £100k plus restoration is £40k and you can pay £150k for the very best.
The top five climbers reflect a market with broad tastes, although three of them: Jaguar XJR-S (up 88%), Ferrari F50 (up 56%) and Porsche 911 (993 generation) GT2 (up 73%) are post-1987 models, underlining the growth in demand for younger classics.
Buy a Jaguar MkI
The original compact Jag comes out of the Mk2’s shadows, with interest and prices growing smartly. The top-spec 3.4 with manual overdrive and chrome wire wheels is now a £25-30k car, and we've seen the best cars make double that. Star performances in the Goodwood Revival St Mary's Trophy for Fifties saloons has no doubt added some gloss, as have appearances in TV detective drama Endeavour, just as Morse and Bread did for the Mk2.
Perhaps more than most classics, an apparently good-looking MkI can hide the potential for heart- and wallet-breaking repair and restoration bills. The detailed buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine steers you round £10-25k bodyshell rebuilds, £7-8k retrims and £6k engine rebuilds to help you find the right example at the right money. Take your time, be prepared to walk away from the neglected or badly-restored cars and there's hugely rewarding swift saloon out there with your name on it.
We want this
This 1959 Triumph TR3A will be a hugely fun way to spend £26.5k. It's one of the cars for sale that we evaluate in the current issue of Classic Cars magazine, and it seems to have been well restored and shaken down.
There's a rugged charm about these side-screen TRs, with their rorty inline four-cylinder engines and cut-down doors so they always feel faster than they are. But with 100bhp to shift just 950kg they could embarrass many a more powerful period rival.
Sometimes the simplest of pleasures are the sweetest.
MG Midget/Austin-Healey Sprite bargains
With the prices of top condition MG Midgets and equivalent Austin-Healey Sprites lagging behind the market, and particularly their old rival, the Triumph Spitfire, now looks like a good time to buy.
I’ve always found the Midget and Sprite more fun to drive, and also surprisingly accommodating for my 6ft 1in frame. Excellent examples can be bought from £6-7k with £11k buying the best. And after that initial investment your ownership costs will be tiny, leaving you with nothing more to worry about than which twiddly B-road you’re going to attack next.
Lotus Esprit Turbo on the move
After being left for dust in the price acceleration race by rival Ferraris and Porsches, the Lotus Esprit Turbo seems to be on the move, with top auction and dealer examples already tipping over the £20k mark.
That still doesn’t make the Esprit Turbo expensive for such a fast, sharp-handling and dramatic looking car, especially as privately-advertised examples can be found for 10% less. In the current market you can have a lot less fun for a lot more money.
Price guide climbers and fallers
The latest price winners and losers analysis in the new issue of Classic Cars magazine reveals the top 66 climbers and eight fallers.
Top gains go to the Alfa 75, which has jumped 43% to £7.5k for the very best and £5k for excellent examples. The top ten spans all eras, from 1918 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to 1998 Ferrari 456 GT, and all price points, from £3.6k Wolseley 1500 to £590k Aston Martin DB6 Volante.
Heaviest fallers range from the Maserati Ghibli 4.7 down just 2.5% to £140k to Austin-Healey Sprite MkII-IV down 7.4% to £7k. In most cases it looks like previously over-inflated models suffering a reality check. Handy if the recent market heat had taken them out of your reach.
Ford Pilot buying
The Ford Pilot’s handsome and confident American styling and flathead V8 propulsion look extremely attractive at anything from the £6k entry price for something usable through to circa £20k for a faultless example.
But various design flaws and limited parts and specialist network can catch out the unwary. Fortunately, Classic Cars magazine has just produced an in-depth buying guide for the latest issue in order to guide you through the challenges and make buying and owning one as simple and pleasurable as possible.
Imagine the sense of occasion when showing up at anything from a favourite pub to a classic car event in something so distinctive.
We want this
This 1959 Alvis TD21 looks like a lot elegant and discreet motoring pleasure for its £27.5k asking price. Of course, a lot of cars can appear so when you find a few small pictures and a lot of glowing prose in the small ads, but when we went to look at this one it stood up to scrutiny with good cosmetics and driving demeanour to match. Add to that the novelty of it being bought new by a diamond dealer and subsequently owned by a hot air balloon pilot and you have something worth a more detailed look. You can read more of our observations in the Ads on Test story, one of four cars for sale that we evaluate in the latest issus of Classic Cars magazine.
With Ferrari prices falling back after a period of over-inflation by ambitious vendors you might expect the Mondial to share the hangover. After all, it suffers from the curse of four seats that have always held back values – who chooses a Ferrari to be practical?
Well, quite a few smart buyers as it turns out and prices are up nearly 14% on last year. If you avoid comparison with the pretty 308 GTB and GTS, the Mondial is a good-looking car, it’s a buzz to drive and you can take the family out for a spin, at least while the kids are still young. Even with the recent growth, the Mondial still looks good value at £14k for a decent one, £23k for something really sharp, and running one shouldn’t lead to financial ruin if you start off with a properly looked after example. But we’ve seen recent examples of these cars selling for significantly more, so they may not remain such good value forever.
We’re used to strong prices for Ford Cortinas MkI and MkII – all of that period motor sport heritage has a direct impact on Lotus and GT values, and a halo effect on the lesser models – but the MkIII with its transatlantic styling and suburban image has never been as covetable.
But newer generations of buyers aren’t under the spell of the Sixties – it’s just too far in the past now – and instead they’re drawn to flamboyant images of the Seventies, from Raleigh Choppers to Cortina MkIIIs. Which goes some way to explaining more than £13k paid recently for a low-mileage 1600 GT. That, and the scarcity of this two-door model. When was the last time you saw one?
Market winners and losers
Of the 289 movers in the latest update of the Classic Cars magazine Price Guide, just 32 are fallers. The rest are showing growth of anything up to 71%. That chart-topping figure is achieved by the Jaguar XJ12 Coupé, meaning that good examples now start at £9k and you can pay anywhere from £16-24k depending on how perfect the car is. The six-cylinder version isn’t far behind with figures around 20% behind the V12 model.
The top five slots are locked out by cars that hitherto had been keeping quiet – Lotus Esprit S2, Triumph Spitfire MkII and original Spitfire 4.
Fallers show no pattern of age or car type, with the Subaru Impreza Turbo and Austin Atlantic coupé topping the chart at -14% and -12% respectively. Now that pairing would make for a diverse two-car garage.
With prices starting at £2k for a usable saloon or £4k for the equivalent coupé, the Lancia Flavia is looking very tempting right now.
These cars bristle with clever design including aluminium flat four engines, front wheel drive and disc brakes, and in coupé and cabriolet forms offer the sort of Pininfarina styling normally reserved for Ferraris.
The best saloons are £10-15k, coupés £25-35k and cabrios £30-40k, which still looks attractive when you consider the alternatives. As the buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine reveals, repair costs aren’t disproportionate unless you pay too much for an example with too many faults. Our detailed advice should help you spot the trouble areas so that you can negotiate on the price, or vote with your feet.
We want this MG TA
The 1936 MG TA that we test in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine demonstrates a well-judged blend of restoration and upgrades that make it one of the best that we’ve ever driven. Engine, gearbox, suspension and brakes have all been specified to make the car fun, predictable and dependable to drive, without compromising its period charm. The history file confirms two previous restorations and the period of 1983-2000 alone accounts for £63k of expenditure. The dealer is asking £28.5k. Want to know more? Check out the Ads on Test report in Classic Cars, February 2017.
VW Karmann Ghia
While much of the Le Mans/Nürburgring/Brands Hatch-obsessed classic car market chases up values of hardcore performance models, cars like the VW Karmann Ghia look increasingly good value. Of course they’re not going to impress anyone with vivid acceleration, big horsepower boasts and heroic handling, but there really is more to classic motoring than driving a car like you stole it. This, coming from someone with a history of TVR and Porsche ownership.
What the Karmann Ghia does do very well is look pretty and cruise along with carefree ease. Lovely examples can be found for around £10k, which wouldn’t buy you much of a Triumph TR6 these days.
Peugeot 205 GTI
It doesn’t seem long ago that we were tipping these sharp-looking road terriers as undervalued smart buys. It couldn’t last long. First it was the perfect, ultra-low mileage examples that made the headlines – one sold recently for £30k – while inevitably cars with high mileage or needing work were left alone, but we’ve just seen a well-used 1.6 example make £2.4k.
So it seems the market is becoming hungry for them in any condition, in the way that sporting Ford Escort MkIs were chased upwards a decade ago. As history repeats itself, the generation that grew up aspiring to these, or owning them as disposable transport when they were secondhand bargains has the money to buy the best, or restore one to top condition. Faced with the realization that supplies of perfect, unmodified examples are scarce, they’re prepared to spend ever more on chasing the dream.
But aside from headline-grabbing auction examples, good cars with normal mileages can be bought for a third of the price of a Ford Escort Mexico. For now.
Price guide winners and losers
To illustrate how nuanced the classic car market is right now, the monthly roundup of the top 72 price guide winners and losers in Classic Cars magazine includes everything from the Blower Bentley to the BMW M535i, and late-model Porsches appear at the top of the charts of both winners and losers, depending on model.
Sharing the winner’s top slot are the Bentley Speed Six, Blower Bentley and BMW M535i (E12 generation) with a weighty 99% growth. They’re followed by Porsche 911 Carrera (964 generation) at 70% and its Turbo brother rounding out the top five at 50%.
The losers show much less spectacular figures with even the biggest only managing a 13% fall, meaning that you can now buy a mint Porsche Boxster 2.5 for just £5k. The newer and much more powerful 3.2S has dropped 10%, making mint examples a £9k bargain. If you’ve never tried one of these tactile and practical little gems, now’s the time. While their 911 big brother boasts all of the big numbers, the Boxster is much more fun at sane and legal speeds.
The Lamborghini 400GT, Porsche 911 Turbo 4 and Carrera (both 993 generation) wound out the top five fallers, losing 6.3, 6.0 and 5.3% respectively. Hardly drastic losses considering how 2016 buyers have shunned the meteoric rises in the classic Porsche market of previous years.
They may have a way to fall yet but long term, special examples of these later Porsches will surely return to growth as a younger generation of enthusiasts seeks excitement in post-chrome-era classics.
Honda’s sharp-looking and sharp-handling CR-X coupé is a reminder that there was more to fun Eighties motoring than the much-celebrated hot hatch. And with buyers clamouring for all of the predictable Peugeots, VWs, Renaults and Fords, the now scarce Honda makes a very appealing alternative, with good examples staring around £4k and the very best topping £12k.
Spec ranges from the early 60bhp, twin-carburettor-fed 1.5-litre model through to the sizzling 1.6i V-T (SiR in Japan) with its 150bhp VTEC (variable valve timing) engine, all driving the front wheels.
The challenge is finding the right car and keeping it in top condition thanks to scarcity of survivors and patchy parts supply, so the in-depth buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine is a must-read for advice on where to source cars and how to check them for the sort of problems that might taint your ownership.
So a CR-X might not be as easy to own as a Ford or VW, but life would be dull without challenges, right?
Range Rovers rocket
You’d think my friend who sold his early Range Rover last year for a few hundred pounds would suffer a head-in-the-hands moment at the news that an early example has just sold for £93k. But the big number was for the first production car, built of course in 1970 and with an A-suffix to the chassis number. It was also restored to original condition.
My friend’s car was at the other end of the spectrum with a shortened chassis, hybrid Series 3/Defender bodywork and countless DIY shed-quality modifications that together transformed it into an off-road special. It was one of very many similar conversions that contributed to the rarity of the untouched originals that are so prized today. Without such attrition, I doubt that two door Range Rovers would be attracting anything like the attention and values that they are now.
It also underlines how, as a car matures from loved old classic to collectible piece of significant motoring history, buyers will put ever higher premiums on original specification, fittings and finishes. Conversely, the more that you personalise a car, the more you narrow its market until it only appeals to one person – you.
We want this
With just 23k miles on the odometer this 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS had to be worth a look, even though it’s lefthand drive. That’s the price you pay for a car that’s spent its life in California avoiding rain, salt and the everyday scrapes and dings that prompt a respray or three during a car’s life. So this one still wears its original paint, as evidenced by microcrazing caused by that relentless sunshine. It would be a crime to refinish it in the pursuit of perfection, as with the gently used red leather which sets off the silver body colour nicely.
Our love of time-worn patina doesn’t extend to driving around on the 23-year-old tyres however, which will no doubt be age-hardened and lethal in wet conditions.
The GTS is one of four cars for sale that we try out in the Ads on Test section of the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine.
TVR V8S on the up
Values of TVR V8Ss have leapfrogged the Chimaera, upsetting a long-established hierarchy that favoured the newer models.
Until now, depreciation of the Chimaera effectively capped V8S values as buyers preferred its more modern looks and better handling. Now that the Chimaera has slipped from secondhand modern to classic status, its greater build numbers are counting against it.
With fewer than 50 V8Ss left in the UK, buyers need £15k for a good one and that figure is only likely to go one way.
Alfa 2600s come out of the shadows
Prices for Alfa 2600 Spiders and Sprints are being driven up by buyers who favour glamorous styling and fine engineering over backlane sporting dynamics.
You can now pay £90k and £48k respectively for the Touring and Bertone-designed Sixties cruisers respectively. With their handsome twin overhead cam straight sixes offering 145bhp, they offer a taste of the Aston Martin/Maserati highlife for a fraction of the cost. A smart and very stylish way to spend your money indeed.
Classic winners and losers
More than 60 classics have jumped in value since the last update to the Classic Cars magazine Price Guide, and the list published in the latest issue makes fascinating reading.
Despite a widely-reported cooling off classic values in 2016 there are plenty of exceptions, ranging from obviously hot models like the BMW M535i (up 54% to £10k in top condition) to the quietly-appreciated Swallow Doretti (up 50% to £60k). Tellingly, there are no Ferraris or early Porsche 911s in the top slots, though high-performance versions of the 993 generation cars are increasingly appreciated for their last-of-the-air-cooled status.
You can still find decent early Exige S2s for less than £20k if you’re happy to buy something with more than 50,000 miles, but prices climb via mid and high twenties to low thirties if you target lower mileage, an S1 or one of the higher spec cars like an S or Cup.
Whichever you go for, it’s guaranteed to thrill like little else this side of a Ferrari F40, but without the terrifying running costs. But it is a specialised car, and one that has attracted enthusiastic drivers keen to push it to the limit, and sometimes beyond. So you need to go armed with the detailed buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine. Get it right and this pocket-sized Le Mans racer for the road will change your attitude to twisting Tarmac forever.
We want this
This 40k-mile Austin A95 Westminster would be perfect carriage for taking in 2017’s events. It’s in lovely condition and a real time machine from an era of greatcoats and trilby hats. With its torquey 2.6-litre C-series straight and automatic gearbox it wafts along the straights nicely, and isn’t afraid of corners either. When we tested it for the latest issue of Classic Cars it was up for a whiff under £14k, which sounds like a fair chunk of cash for a Fifties exec saloon, until you consider how scarce these have become, and the costs of trying to bring a rough one up to this condition.
Trend or anomaly?
Does the record £1.85m paid for a 1995 Porsche 911 GT2 represent a market shift or anomaly?
The result at RM Sotheby’s London auction certainly sent market commentators into overdrive, and I’m sure there will be a rush of similar vintage 911s hitting the market with amusingly optimistic asking prices over the coming weeks, but at Classic Cars magazine we don’t believe that one result makes a trend.
The ingredients for an exceptional result were all there on the night – rare, low-mileage, single-owner examples of cars of the moment; high-profile auction and, most crucially, two bidders each with huge reserves of cash and a determination to outdo the other.
It’s a set of circumstances unlikely to be repeated any time soon, so until we see more sales that support these sorts of figures, Classic Cars will be keeping its price guide figures where they are. For more analysis of this and other market signals, see the latest issue of Classic Cars.
Price guide movers revealed
The Price Guide Quarterly update in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine reveals the latest climbers and fallers.
Heading up the climbers chart are the Rover P6 3500 (up 82%), Porsche 944 Turbo Cabriolet (up 60%) and Dellow MkI-IV (also up 6-%), while the biggest fallers are the Mercedes 540K Cabriolet A/B/C (down 20%), Chevrolet Corvette C1 (down 17%) and Ford Consul Classic (also down 17%).
Both lists include cars across the full spectrum of the traditional classic eras from the Thirties to the mid Seventies, but there are no modern classics in the list of fallers, reflecting the growth in interest from the newly affluent generation of buyers who grew up aspiring to those cars.
Turbo Saab time
The original Saab 99 Turbo still looks good value compared to many of its period rivals, with good examples still popping up for less than £10k.
It may lack the wilder image of some of its turbocharged contemporaries, but this was a landmark car in the story of turbocharging and has always enjoyed a cult following. Owning one says ‘I could have bought a six-cylinder BMW or turbocharged Ford, but I don’t follow fashion.’
Crucial to the appeal are those cool Inca alloys, and original fabric interiors set the package off nicely, so think twice about paying much for modified examples.
Fiat X1/9 is a sleeper
Fiat’s crisp, wedgy X1/9 showstopper is still being overlooked by buyers looking for the next big thing, but what else delivers such futuristic Bertone styling for well less than £5k?
Choose in one of the more eye-catching Seventies colours and you’ll be sure to stand out from the crowds for all the right reasons during the next events season as you feel like an actor from an out-take of Blake’s 7. Shiny space jumpsuit optional.
The BMC 1100/1300 range is your chance to own a sharp slice of Pininfarina styling riding on an even sharper chassis for a fraction of the cost of an early Mini.
Usable examples of the Austin and Morris versions start at £1000 while even the up-spec MG, Riley and 1300GT alternatives are only three times that in equivalent condition while the mini-limo Vanden Plas and Wolseley variants fall in between. Of course perfection costs, so you’d have to budget more like £8k for a well restored MG, Riley or 1300GT, and proportionately less for the others.
If you’re tempted, have a look at the detailed buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine for all of the essential checks and model choice guidance you could wish for, plus specialist expert views and real owner experiences to make the process as easy as possible.
We want this
With just 46,000 miles and four previous owners this Jaguar E-type V12 caught our eye. It’s an ideal blend of originality and careful maintenance that can often be more satisfying to own than a fully restored car where everything has been apart and renewed. And its Primrose Yellow colour suits the more extrovert styling of the Series 3 E-type with its bold eggcrate radiator grille, flared wheelarches and wide wheels. In the latest issue of Classic Cars we take it for a road test to find out just what you get for the £125k asking price.
Jaguar E-types still hot
The latest sale by Silverstone Auctions at the Silverstone Classic weekend demonstrated that there’s a ready market for Jaguar E-types, regardless of condition and model. The caveat is that seller expectations need to be well matched to condition. So an excellent Series 2 fixedhead coupé (Jaguar speak for the two seater) made £118k with buyer’s premium, while another in driver condition sold for just £39k. In an educated market, buyers are well aware that restoring a condition 2 car is a more expensive route to perfection than buying the best car in the first place.
Prices ranged from £19k for a 1971 S3 2+2 coupé with poor bonnet fit, tired chrome and various paint defects, to £141k for a 1961 Series 1 roadster that really needed re-restoring to meet modern expectations of perfection. Chassis number 62 explained the price.
That all nine cars sold defied the usual principle that offering too much choice kills the sale of the lesser examples as buyers hold out for the best. A hungry market indeed.
Why buy the best?
With spiralling standards of perfection seen at everything from the local car shows to the top concours, it’s easy to be drawn in. But as one dealer said to me, it’s vital to be realistic about what you want the car for. If you want a better-than-new gem, so flawless that you’ll never want to drive it for fear of stone chips, rain drops or even some road grime, perfection is the only way to go. You’ll have something lovely to admire in your garage or maybe at a show.
If you want to use it for drives to favourite country pubs, continental holidays and on sunny Friday commutes to the office, that perfect classic could be more of a source of stress than pleasure. Top price Triumph Stags are now in the high teens, but we’ve seen decent examples for less than £10k and a 64,000-miler in original condition for £10.5k. For that you still get a car that drives well, draws admiring glances and is something to be proud of, once you’ve accepted its imperfections as patina. The trick is distinguishing those cars from urgent restoration projects, held together by the last respray and trip to the filler and underseal shop.
The alternative GT
If we all had £500k to spend on a Sixties GT, there’d be an Aston Martin DB5 on every street. I know they didn’t make that many, but stay with me. My point is that the classic world would be a bit boring if the most special cars stopped being special. A bit like affording to put Lagavulin on your morning cornflakes instead of milk.
Whether your budget is limited to £5k or £50k creates a fun challenge – how to find the most exciting car within your budget. For a £50k Sixties GT we’d choose a Jensen CV-8, which offers all of the refinement, performance and curvaceous panelwork of the Aston, but without the lottery price tag and ownership costs. Admittedly its styling has more singular appeal, as does the extreme peatiness of Lagavulin, as it happens. It would be a dull old world if we all liked and chose the same things.
Top 5 market climbers
The latest issue of Classic Cars magazine reveals the top climbers and fallers. Of the 62 models that have gone up in value in our latest price guide update, five have soared by 25% or more, from the Ford Escort RS Turbo at £10k to the Jensen FF, up 77% to £100k for the best.
Just ten models have shown a drop, led by the the Lotus Elan SE Turbo, falling 7.7% to £8k. Encouraging news for anyone who lusted after one when they were more expensive.
Anyone who tells you that classic cars are a one-way investment, or that they’re all too expensive for true enthusiasts hasn’t studied the real numbers.
Exotic spec, humble price
Crisp, Sixties Italian styling, sweet six cylinder engines, twin carburettors or fuel injection, all-independent suspension – sounds like a recipe for something exotic and expensive to own, doesn’t it. But the Triumph 2000/2500 offers all that in smart condition from just £3k.
As our in-depth buying guide in the latest issue explains, you can pay double that for a perfect example, the fuel-injected 2.5 PI MkI commands a 30 per cent premium and estate versions ad a 10 per cent premium. The guide also reveals how well supported these cars are through a small but helpful network of specialists and club enthusiasts dedicated to make ownership as easy as possible.
Buying advice and market analysis is part of 16 pages of buying information in every issue of Classic Cars magazine, including Quentin Willson’s Smart Buys, Russ Smith’s Market Watch, in-depth buying guides and Ads on Test.
We want this: Bentley S3 Continental
The ideal collection should include a car for every occasion, and when that occasion calls for swift, stylish travel with a bunch of friends or family, this Mulliner Park Ward-bodied Bentley Continental S3 would be perfect. Its controversial headlamp arrangement is more than compensated for by flowing, elegant lines that successfully disguise the volume of this heavyweight express. When we tested it for the October issue, we found that this 1963 example drives as well as it looks. Can anyone lend me £137k?
Date for your diary: Round Britain Coastal Run
The E-type Club kicks off its Round Britain Coastal Drive on September 12, returning on the 29th after a 3600-mile relay composed of 18 stages. The aim is to raise £50k for charity and well-known names have already signed up, including Ross Brawn, Martin Brundle, and, er, me. Whether you want to take part, spectate or donate, you’ll find all the details you need on e-typeclub.com
MARKET WATCH Ferrari Dino 246GT
It’s increasingly clear that when you make decisions about deviating from the factory spec of your car during restoration, you need to have your priorities straight. If your only concern is that the car looks and drives exactly as you like, then build it to whatever spec and colour scheme pleases you and ignore the self-appointed originality police. Just be prepared to sell for less than the market maximum when the time comes.
Time was when if you upgraded a classic to more desirable spec, or to a more fetching colour scheme, as long as the changes were all factory options, or if they simply made the car better to drive, they wouldn’t harm its value at all. Sometimes they added to its saleability. But the sale of two Ferrari Dino 246 GTs at the Bonhams Festival of Speed sale was more evidence that buyers are putting ever greater emphasis on originality, with the more correct car selling for a 47 per cent premium over one with a colour change and some detail shortcomings. Of course there are exceptions – some marque specialists have made such a reputation for their own packages of upgrades that they’ve created a brand, one that carries its own premium.
MARKET WATCH Honda NSX
Once upon a time, NSX values started to move; now Honda’s user-friendly supercar has stalled. Bad luck if you bought one as an investment then, but a great opportunity if you fancy the idea of a beautifully honed and thrilling driving machine without all of the usual supercar baggage – show off styling, tetchy temperament and lose-your-shirt maintenance bills.
Neither of the last two examples to come up for auction made enough of a dent on their £30k-35k estimates to tip over the reserves, and those in the classifieds seem in no rush to sell. Time to get out there and make some cheeky offers.
MARKET WATCH Top 10 growers of the month
There’s a lot of talk this year about the classic car market cooling off, particularly the high-value auction darlings typified by Mercedes 300 SL Gullwings and Roadsters, chrome-bumper Ferraris and pre-impact bumper Porsche 911s. You can look for deeper meaning to this, but the most rational explanations seem to be over-supply from vendors trying to cash in on a boom, and buyer disillusionment with the belief that values will values will continue to soar at the same rate.
But this cooler mindset doesn’t apply evenly throughout the classic car market, as evidenced by the Market Movers data in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine. The top ten climbers have all grown by at least 23 per cent since the last update, with some surprising top performers like the Austin Atlantic and Ford Corsair GT each jumping more than 40 per cent and even numerous classics like MG Midget MkII and MkIII climbing 33 per cent. Porsche 968 Club Sports and BMW 3.0 CSLs have both shown another recent spurt, at 38 and 33 per cent respectively, so it’s hard to generalise where the recent growth has concentrated, and ever more challenging to predict where it will strike next.
MARKET WATCH Mercedes SLK
Classic car magazines can be guilty of unrealistically low ‘Prices from £Xk’ headlines in the hope of snaring new readers, but at Classic Cars magazine we focus on what you’d really pay for a car in a condition that you’d actually want to own. So when the latest issue says that a Mercedes 230 SLK can be yours from £2.5k, we’re talking about a good example with 60-70k miles and full service history.
Incredible value for such a refined and once expensive roadster, and one with the party trick of a push-button, folding electric hardtop. Even the 320 V6 isn’t much more than twice that for a similarly well-looked after example. All you have to do is navigate your way around the poorly maintained examples that have been glossed up for a quick profit, so it’s worth checking out the buying guide in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine which details the most serious and expensive faults, and shows you how to spot them. After that all you need to do is seize the best bits of our sporadic summer, yours at the push of a button.