The classic car market is a complex world in which an expert guiding hand is sometimes highly beneficial. At Tom Hartley Jnr Ltd we are always here to offer help and advice to anyone who may need it, regardless of whether you are a client or not. With the market so strong across almost all areas, from Austin-Healeys to Ferrari 250 GTOs, never has there been more risk attached to buying the wrong car at the wrong price from the wrong individual. Chancers and opportunists will always be happy to take large sums of money in return for very poor cars.
But what we do know is that the market for the right cars is stronger than ever. For the past six years, while the global economy has been all but down on its knees, the market has remained robust, resilient and has outperformed most other forms of alternative investment opportunity. Nevertheless, at Tom Hartley Jnr, the best advice we can give is to buy a car because you passionately want to own it and not because you want an investment. Without a doubt, it is the passion and enthusiasm for classic cars which feeds the market most strongly - cars are to be driven and enjoyed – and so long as there are enough people who feel the same as you, demand will remain high and the market strong.
But it’s impossible to ignore the realities of how the market has performed. The last twelve months have seen values rise steadily, and it is within this period that the market has seen many of the world’s most valuable cars change hands, both through private treaty sales and more publicly within the auction scene. But for cars to be truly desirable and to command the best prices, certain conditions have to be met. Old cars need a rock-solid history – a fully documented paper trail that accurately charts ownership, maintenance and restoration work. Originality is also highly coveted; cars should be as close as possible to their original factory specifications, and whilst subtle upgrades and performance improvements can be desirable, a car should be a ‘matching numbers’ example where there is documentary evidence that the chassis, engine and gearbox all left the factory together, thus preserving the essence of a car’s true identity. It is these factors that we refer to as ‘provenance’, and if the car can also boast interesting ownership or competition history, then the value and investment potential will be truly maximised.
Italian thoroughbreds continue to be most in demand, with Ferrari still considered to be the best ‘litmus paper’ for how the market is performing. The market for Ferraris is global, and the demand for certain cars is driven by rarity, exclusivity and a wonderful marque heritage. Rare sports-racing Maseratis and Alfa-Romeos are also very much in demand and Aston Martin is a great example of a marque that has seen values rise considerably in recent years, with the classic ‘DB’ models of the 1960s leading the charge. There are certain iconic cars that simply never seem to go out of fashion or demand – both the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing and the Ferrari 275 GTB/4, are two perfect examples of cars which have an almost endless appeal and which can only be regarded as blue-chip investments for the future.