MARKET WATCH, July 2017

Early ’Healeys jump

The trend for buyers to prize the earliest and purest version of a model line has struck the Austin-Healey, with four-cylinder 100 models gaining four per cent to overtake all six-cylinder models for the first time.

Until now the 3000 MkIII has been most prized of the regular road cars, particularly for its more powerful engine and more luxurious trim, but buyers are increasingly happy to sacrifice ultimate spec and comfort for purer dynamics and aesthetics.

Entry level for rough, project cars has moved to £20k, with good cars at £32k, mint at £47.5k and concours examples up to £65k. Just as we’ve seen with other Fifties and Sixties cars, we expect the gap to widen as these cars are taken increasingly seriously by collectors.

Triumph saloons leap


Values of Triumph 2000 and 2500 saloons have jumped by 35-44 per cent, depending on model. For decades their advanced design and sharp Michelotti styling wasn’t enough to lift them out of the backwater occupied by so many family and executive saloons, which made them great value.

The good news for buyers is that they’re still good value, with £1000-1400 buying something rough and even the best topping out at £6.5-7.5k, depending on model. A combination of usability and scarcity of good survivors is driving the value growth.

For now the highest spec and latest versions (2.5PI, 2500TC and 2500S) are at the top of that scale, but the MkI models with the beak nose and futuristic dashboard have seen the most growth.

Top climbers and fallers

More than a fifth of the classic cars tracked by Classic Cars magazine’s Price Guide Quarterly have changed in value, and the majority of those have grown, despite anecdotal evidence of a cooling off of prices.

The top ten growers have increased by between 20 and 44 per cent, with Triumph 2000/2500 MkI/IIs outperforming Ferrari 250 GT Pininfarina Coupés at the top of the list, at least in percentage terms (up 44 vs 40 per cent). That top ten includes various Triumph 2000/2500 models, Porsche 944s, the Austin Mini Copper 1275S, Bugatti Type 57 Atalante and Humber Super Snipe S1-VA. It underlines the fact that growth isn’t always confined to the cars that are predicted to attract serious investors.

The list of cars showing a decline contains a few surprises, particularly Aston Martins – DB2 convertibles and DB MkIIIs are down, but the two-three per cent drop is unlikely to trouble recent buyers or anyone deep into an expensive restoration.

The price futurism

With project lefthand drive D Specials starting at £5k and the best DS23 EPI Pallas examples costing £25-40k, it’s more important than ever to know how to check out your dream Citroën ID or DS thoroughly before you commit with cash.

Bought well, and a good example of any of these beguiling machines can be rewarding to own, but cars that have suffered neglect or inexpert restoration and maintenance will lead you on a frustrating an expensive journey.

Good, usable IDs are more like £12k, rising, along with the clever oleopneumatic suspension, to £20k for something excellent. At this point you’re still £3k shy of a decent DS21 Pallas and £15k from the best.

The detailed buying guide in the current issue of Classic Cars magazine walks you through the key steps to finding the sort of structural and technical problems that will deflate your ID/DS experience, arming you with the expertise to find a satisfying example that will live up to the futuristic dream.

Countach drop

After a spectacular ramping up of values that has seen the Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary leap nearly four-fold since 2012, this most extrovert symbol of Eighties excess has taken a £100k dip since its 2014/15 peak.

That still means circa £350k, so it’s not as if the appetite for them has disappeared, but it does represent another investor favourite where some moderation has replaced reckless acquisition. It’s too early to tell whether the dip of recent years is part of a longer decline, or whether it signifies a brief market correction before these cars and their rivals return to growth.

We want this Trans-Am

I blame my Seventies childhood and the rash of American road movies that transfixed me as a car-crazy youngster, but the Pontiac Firebird Tans-Am had a hold on me because it was everything that our discreet British GT cars were not. Rumbling, big-capacity V8s, exaggerated, muscular proportions and lurid decor inside and out.

This 1979 example is one of four classic cars for sale that we test and evaluate in the latest issue of Classic Cars magazine, and although its 4.9-litre V8 can only muster 135bhp, this one, unusually, is connected to a manual gearbox. Our road tester was impressed by its condition, and felt that the power was sufficient for doing what the car is best at, rumbling along, grabbing attention wherever it goes. Tempting. I wonder how hard it would be to fit it with the optional 6.6-litre motor?