The insanity of classic car prices

Last October, a Ferrari 250GTO sold for a record £32 million. Another one us due to go under the hammer next month. ‘Experts’ reckon it could achieve even more. Perhaps because it has a pantograph wiper.

This is just insanity. I actively hate the top end of the classic car market. It just reminds you how filthy, stinking rich some people are. Imagine having so much money that you’d be prepared to risk £32 million on a car.

It is a risk too. Like it was in the 1980s. A lot of people spent a lot of money buying cars, then suddenly discovered that they just owned cars. Not some financial package. No, something with four wheels and an engine. For the best part of two decades, those with money ran away from the classic scene crying. E-Type Jaguars became affordable again. Enthusiasts rejoiced.

But now it has happened again. A shambolic E-Type Series 1 can fetch £30,000 while a Ferrari Dino that requires collection with a dustpan and brush recently sold for over £132,000 including premium. Quite a premium that’s for sure. The auctioneers must be very happy as their percentage cut grows ever larger. It’s not their fault though, just like it’s not estate agents’ fault that they earn ever more vast amounts for doing absolutely sod all. At least auctioneers do stuff.

Don’t get me wrong – rising values can be a good thing. Would there be the massive investment in 2CV part remanufacturing if you could still buy a tidy one for less than a grand? No, there wouldn’t. But 2CV prices are at least rooted in some sort of reality. They still undercut Fiat 500s a lot of the time, which are inferior in every way apart from looks perhaps. No-one can deny that a Fiat 500 Nuova is the very epitomy of cute. It has no concessions to practicality at all (unlike a 2CV) but it does make you go ‘aw!’

But I seriously dislike it when enthusiasts get priced out of the market. The E-Type Jaguar was a cheap car back in its day. That’s what made Jaguar special. They sold knock-out looks and performance for not a lot of dosh. Just like TVR in the 1990s. Lots of people bought them and a lot of those people then got sensible, did family stuff and had to sell their E-Types.

I bet they wish they’d just stashed it in the garage to await better times. There’s a chance that E-Type might be worth more than their house. Even if they’d left it parked in the front garden, slowly getting buried by plantlife, they could probably indulge in archaeology, dig it out and sell it for enough to buy a brand new car.

Instead, these people are left realising they can’t afford their dream. Well, maybe they can if they went for a Series 2. 2+2. Automatic. In a horrible colour. In left-hand drive. With accident damage. It’s not exactly living the dream is it?

Then there’s sporty Escorts. I don’t care if it’s got a peppy engine. How can a bread and butter family car be worth £60,000 or more? It might be quick, and it may have rally pedigree – but the one you spy in the classifieds never won a rally or went sidewards in a Scandinavian forest. It’s just a shopping trolley with some grunt. On that basis, should I fit a V8 to a Peugeot 106 and make my fortune?

I shouldn’t mind really. I’ve always had humble dreams. At school, I wanted a Land Rover V8 and a 2CV. I’ve owned both and one of them proved to actually be good. But not everyone has such stupid dreams. Some actually have actual dream cars – ones with glorious styling and power and stuff. It seems a crying shame that so much genuinely exciting motoring is being priced ever more out  of reach of most of us.

For some, the burst of that bubble cannot come soon enough.

What are your thoughts? Do share them!

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