Mon, Oct 13, 2014

Classic cars are soaring in value

The value of classic cars has jumped 39 per cent this year, according to the Historic Automobile Group Index (HAGI), which tracks the financial performance of 50 rare and exotic classic cars.

These cars have outperformed collectibles such as gold, wine, art, stamps and coins over the last 10 years, according to the China Rendez-Vous, the organiser of the Bund Classic, an annual concours d’elegance dedicated to the Chinese and Asian classic car community.

Now in its second edition, the exhibition of classic cars will be held in Shanghai from October 17 to 19.

The beauty, mystique and history of these cars are what make them so valuable and coveted by collectors from around the globe. “Automobiles are recognised as an art form,” said David Gooding, president and founder of auction house Gooding & Co. “People are realizing they are exciting to collect. You can drive them and take them around the world. A car can be a passport to adventure.”

“Classic cars have been a very good performer in terms of value appreciation and the financial crisis helped classic cars and collectible markets,” says Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of the Historic Auto Group Index. “But some of the growth rates we’ve seen are not sustainable in the long term. The art and wine markets have already corrected. You really have to know what you’re doing.”

Don Williams, a classic car dealer and collector, rejects the idea that the classic car market could be a bubble. “A bubble is when people are speculating with borrowed money,” he explains. “I think [classic cars] are the most solid form of investing in the world. Where gold keeps getting dug up, stocks keep getting printed, the cars are very, very limited. We’re in an infancy level compared to any other form of investing. The hobby has expanded so internationally that we have 10, 20, maybe 30 times as many potential buyers than cars.”

Williams, president of the internationally known Blackhawk Museum in California and owner of The Auto Collections in Las Vegas, has been described “as the man who buys and sells more million dollar cars than anyone in the business.”

His personal collection of 100 cars includes a $7 million Bugatti and a 1966 Chevy Impala convertible. In his 40 years of collecting, Williams has owned between 8,000 and 10,000 cars: "I'm addicted," he admits. Even with rising prices, Williams encourages individuals who have always wanted a classic car to take the plunge.

“Not everybody is equipped financially to just start collecting at the high-end level,” Williams notes. “Buy one that you can personally afford, one that will bring enjoyment to your life, not a financial burden. Cars have brought a lot of friends into my life. It cuts through all language barriers.”

The 2014 Bund Classic will feature seminars, gala dinners and hospitality events and offer “an exclusive experience revolving around classic cars”.

The Concours d’Elegance itself is attributing prices to the best cars in different categories. The jury is chaired by Sandra Button, the Chairman of the world’s most important classic car event, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The jury comprises of 14 other judges coming from the US, the UK, Italy, France, Belgium, Singapore, Hong Kong and Myanmar.

A high-profile conference titled “Are Classic Cars the Best Investment of All’ will be held alongside the event featuring six eminent speakers including Adolfo Orsi, the President of Historica Selecta, Publisher of Classic Car Auction Yearbook; Tim Bechtel, the General Manager of Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors; Thomas Hamann, the President of Hamann Classic Cars,; Florian Seidl; the President of Caraficionado; Martin Button, the President of Cosdel International Transportation; and Michael Lo, the Vice President Business Development, Greater China of Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors.

The conference will be moderated by Eliyahu Solomon, the Publisher of Rewind magazine and Ben Gu, the Editor-in-Chief of Legacy magazine.

Key sponsors of the 2014 Bund Classic include Maserati, Vertu, Bonhams, San Lorenzo and Airbus Corporate Jet.

Over 8,000 visitors are expected at this year edition of Bund Classic.

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