Classic Cars Are Goldmines
In 1957, most of the world’s attention was turned to Sputnik orbiting the Earth. It was also the year where the first Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa left the factory in Maranello. A racing car built to win the 24-hour race Le Mans. Which it did the year after it was introduced. Only 22 examples of the car were made.
Five years ago, a buyer paid no less than DKK 80 million for the car, which has a 3 l, 300 HP engine that delivers a maximum 8,000 rpm.
Even though rumour has it that classic cars often change hands between private dealers for gigantic sums, the Ferrari 250 GTO version made in 1962, is officially the world’s most expensive car. It was sold at auction at Sotheby’s last year for the astronomical sum of DKK 322 million.
These amazing sale prices emphasise two things – for men for whom cars and high octane ratings are as important as the air they breathe, there is no limit to what they will pay for the right car, and interest in classic cars shows no signs of waning – both investment sums and returns continue to increase strongly.
Every year, Knight Frank, the British commercial property consultancy, publishes an index of the most profitable investments in the market for cars, jewellery and other luxury goods. The 2018 index shows that investments in cars have increased by 288% in the last 10 years. According to the Knight Frank index, Ferrari is ahead on all fronts. It is the pure classic Italian cars that are increasing in price (in the period 2017–2018, prices increased by over 5%). Six out of ten classic cars sold at auction are Ferrari cars. Lastly, as mentioned, the Italian super brand holds the record for the most expensive car sold in the world.
Not merely the price that counts
But the price is not the only factor that makes a vintage car so desirable. Things like state-of-the-art technology from 50–60 years ago, a special history or simply design that is second to none, is what counts with enthusiasts.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing definitely belongs to the last category. With its characteristic gullwing doors, it is an icon in the car world. Perhaps not very practical because the door shape means the car has a high entry height and is the cause of many a parking ticket having being issued.
But now, 65 years after the last car left the Stuttgart factory, with its beautiful, soft curves, the distinctive air inlet and of course the gullwing doors, this car really stands out compared to other sports cars from the mid 1950s.
Even though the 3 l, six-cylinder engine was in the supercar class, it could be purchased for about 29,000 D-mark in 1954, equivalent to (without additional taxes) about DKK 500,000 in today’s money. And should you be lucky enough to find one of these cars still in existence, it will sell for DKK 9–10 million at auction. This was the amount Adam Levin, lead singer of Maroon 5, received when he auctioned his Gullwing at Sotheby’s in Fort Lauderdale in March. The car was sold for USD 1,155,000.
Futuristic French elegance
Another classic car that still drives around in France and Denmark is the Citroën DS. First produced in 1955. In contrast to its Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari cousins, of which only a very few examples were made, 1.5 million Citroën DS left the factories in France, England, Australia and South Africa. Citroën produced the beautiful DS series for 20 years.
The Citroën DS was a limousine for the masses. A beautiful car with a futuristic design that still inspires automobile designers today. But Citroën was also innovative in terms of technology. The DS series was very aerodynamic, exceptionally comfortable and French engineers also introduced a hydropneumatic suspension, power steering, disc brakes and a semi-automatic transmission that did not require a clutch pedal.
And something that was completely new at the time, the Citroën DS has four-wheel-drive. It was also in the DS series that Citroën introduced adaptive headlights, which followed the car’s direction when it swung round a bend. This is something that today’s drivers have to pay a lot of money for.
At the time this technology was revolutionary, so is the timeless elegance which made the car a luxury item that was used as a presidential limousine in France and around the world.
Despite the fact that the Citroën DS series was mass produced, it is still a car that Francophile car enthusiasts will pay good money for. A DS from the 1950s that has been kept in good condition can fetch DKK 250,000–300,000.
After Britain and France failed to force Egypt to open the Suez Canal to allow Israeli ships to pass, oil prices rocketed, and this led to a revolution in the car industry.
The British launched the Morris Mini in 1959. A mini car that quickly became the symbol of the happy 1960s. The aim of the Morris was clear – the new car had to be as economical to run as possible, have room for four people and be cheap to buy. In fact, when it was introduced it cost just under GPB 500, equivalent to DKK 75,000 in today’s money.
The designer of the mini, Alec Issigoni, achieved a series of revolutionary technical solutions, creating a compact car with a transverse engine and axle, completely unheard of in its time, that was pushed out into the corner of the car. It was the reason four adults could just about occupy the Mini. But it also created excellent drivability.
Morris launched the Mini Cooper in 1962, which resulted in huge successes in the world of motor sport , where the mini zipped around racing tracks all over the world, especially in rally races. The mini was renowned. In terms of 20thcentury design, the mini is reckoned to be almost as important as the Ford T. A total of 5 million Morris minis were made up until 1999, when German car manufacturer BMW acquired production. In 2001, the first newly designed Mini One left the factory at Cowley in Oxford.