Market watch August 2016

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