Classic Cars Are Goldmines

They left the production line in a time when no one had ever heard of ABS brakes, GPS navigation or LED headlights. However designers bacin in the day could create new cars that car enthisiats today will pay millions of kroner for - if it's the rigth car with the right story. But you don’t have to be a multimillionaire to drive one of these classic cars. BY CLAUS VESTERAGER MARTINUS PHOTOGRAPH: GET TY IMAGES
Mercedes Benz 300 SL Gullwing
Mercedes Benz 300 SL Gullwing – worldclass design. The gullwing doors and the high entry are distinctive design features, and many people will still pay six-figure sums to own an example.

Classic Cars

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.

Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962
Ferrari 250 GTO from 1962. The world’s most expensive vintage car. The car was sold to a collector at auction for DKK 322 million.

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.

Citroën DS
FUTURISTIC ELEGANCE: The Citroën DS is a French classic that is still seen on the roads in Denmark and France. It was 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, with many innovative technological details, such as aerodynamic lines, hydropneumatic suspension, power steering, disc brakes and semi-automatic transmission that did not require a clutch pedal.

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.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
MOST EXPENSIVE CAR IN THE WORLD: A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was sold at Sotheby’s for the astronomical sum of DKK 322 million. Its 12-cylinder engine delivers 296 HP. Only 39 examples were ever built. The car was built to compete against other great racing cars of its time; the Shelby Cobra, Jaguar E-Type and Aston Martin DP214. It should have competed in FIA’s Group 3 GT Racing – but the rules at the time required that 100 examples of the car were built. Even so, in 1962, the car took second place at Sebring – a 12-hour race in Florida, beaten by another Ferrari car, the Testa Rossa.

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.

Morris Mini Cooper
BRITISH MINIMALISM: British Morris launched the first mini in 1959. A mini car that in a very short time became a symbol of the happy 1960s. A car designed to be as economical to run as possible, that could transport four passengers and was cheap to buy. In fact it sold for GBP 500, equivalent to DKK 75,000 in today’s money. 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.

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.

Aston Martin DB5
ASTON MARTIN – COOL BRITISH ELEGANCE: Some people will perhaps describe the Aston Martin DB5 as classically ‘clean’ rather than elegantly beautiful. But it is a beautiful, wellproportioned car. No wild curves or loud features. In other words, a perfect driving machine. No wonder it was James Bond’s favourite – sophisticated, classic and exciting. Aston Martin DB5 was launched in 1963 – a luxury Grand Tourer (GT) version with a 3.7 l engine that delivered 282 HP and a top speed of 233 km/h.

British minimalism

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.

Bugatti Type 41 Royale Kellner Coupe
BUGATTI’S THREE-TONNE KING CAR: Ettore Bugatti made seven examples of this monster car. It had a 12 l V8 engine, which was originally made for a plane. The Type 41 Royale Kellner Coupe was the ultimate luxury car that was up there with Rolls Royce. Even though it was originally conceived as a car for royalty, not a single car was sold to a king or sultan or president. Bugatti even refused to sell the car to the Albanian King with the remark that “his table manners were exceptionally poor”.

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.

Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B
ITALIAN PRE-WAR BEAUTY: Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B. Lungo Spider created this beauty in 1939. In the 1930s, drivers did not have a great choice. Rolls Royce was expensive. Mercedes-Benz 540K and the American Duesenberg were huge cars that were not suited to narrow country roads. But the Spider’s removable roof created a sense of freedom. There are known to be12 examples left and the car sold at auction at Sotheby’s for DKK 130 million in 2016.