IT’S DIFFICULT to know whether to view this as a compliment or an insult, but there is a sector of the populace which is convinced we (as in the Unique Cars mag staff) are part of a conspiracy to manipulate the values of the global classic car market. And apparently I’m one of the ringleaders. Damn, they’re on to us! I’ll have to bring it up at the next meeting.
This is bred by the frustration, which I completely understand, with the ever-rising prices of desirable cars. Sure they take the odd knock – sometimes serious – but nevertheless the long-term trends can be downright scary.
Let’s look at a couple of examples. Ford Falcon GT-HO Phase III is the most notorious, having risen as high as $800-900k at one stage, only to plummet back to around $300k and now hovering somewhere near $500k for a top example. This is the point at which a car stops being a car and is an investment vehicle. They’re lovely toys, but their nuts and bolts value is a fraction of the auction prices.
Want an even more extreme example? Have a gander at the ex-Bob Jane E-type lightweight (in our News section this issue) that recently went under the hammer for $9.63 million.
Really?! Now you could argue that all it takes for this to happen at auction is for two (usually) blokes with big egos and bigger wallets to butt heads. Which is why it’s often wise to see if a record result can be repeated before it’s declared the new normal. That said, there is a school of thought which says that particular car has yet to reach its peak.
So, when we talk about this stuff, people sometimes get cranky. I don’t blame them . Sometimes I get cranky too. A large part of me says that no car is worth these sorts of prices but, more importantly, I hate seeing even relatively humble machinery soar in value and end up out of reach for anyone with anything resembling an average income.
Some days, I reckon we should agree that no car should be worth more than the equivalent of its new price, allowing for inflation. There are situations where it’s nice to see someone who needs it get the equivalent of a lottery win when they go to sell the old rustbucket in the shed, but most of the time it would be better to see sanity prevail.
Which, in a round-about way, brings us to some recent debates I’ve been having with people via our website (tradeuniquecars.com.au) and social media. Pretty much any time we run a story about how some pretty average transport of delight has got an extraordinary price, the feedback channels catch fire.
To paraphrase, “You clowns are just there pumping up the car market, so you can make money, but most of us can’t afford one.” I did recently point out to one of these folk that, if that were the case, I’m making a complete hash of the job. Of my three cars, one (the 1979 Kingswood) has stopped plummeting in value and might even be holding steady or, god forbid, be picking up a little; The second (the 1976 BMW 633) doubles in value whenever I fill the fuel tank; And the third (the 2003 540 Bimmer) is seeing its value performing like a concrete hangglider.
If I sold all three, I’d struggle to scratch up enough to pay for a new locally-built sedan (while they last).
This needs to be raised at the next meeting of the World Wide Classic Car Cabal: something is going horribly wrong!