Car collecting: Aston Martin to BMW Z8

If you have enough spare time and money, car collecting can be a relaxing and fulfilling hobby with
an added bonus of investment.

Cars – whether classic old-timers or flashy sports models – top the wish-lists of many consumers, and not only those of the male persuasion. And if you know what you’re looking for, you could find yourself behind the wheel of a decent investment, too. All you have to decide is how much you want to
spend – and how great you want to look in your new rolling stock.

Positive market outlook

The collector car market seems to have finally recovered from the crisis it has suffered since the early 1990’s. Then, enthusiastic but ill-informed speculators drove up the prices of everything from late-model production Ferraris to Fiats. The following crash put hundreds of these wannabe investors stranded on the side of the financial road and left many more hesitant about investing in cars. Things are different today. Most of the recent gains appear sustainable because, thanks to wealthy baby boomers trying to regain a piece of their youth, exclusive cars are selling for increasingly high sums.

Don’t go spending your family´s savings on a car, unless you want to find yourself divorced or otherwise dumped in the dust faster than your new car can hit 100 km/h.

While it may be tempting to sell your conventional investments and start your own car collection, a word of caution may be wise: Don’t go spending your family´s savings on a car, unless you want to find yourself divorced or otherwise dumped in the dust faster than your new car can hit 100 km/h. Unlike stock certificates, old cars require frequent maintenance, insurance, and a garage. Conversely, reviewing your portfolio performance is nowhere near as much fun as experiencing the performance of, say, an Aston Martin. If you do your homework, buy the right car, and enjoy it sensibly, you’ll definitely maximize the return on your investment.

Are you ready for it?

Restoring, or just keeping, an old car can be taxing on personal time and the wallet. When you do find a potential car, be wary. As in buying any used car, buying an old car is a risk. Follow these tips to minimize the risks:

Fall is the best time to shop for old collectors’ cars. It’s the time of year when a lot of cars are changing hands, and the market is tipped towards the buyers rather than the sellers. Lack of winter garage space, unfinished summer project cars, and classic-car dealerships cutting their inventories are all reasons why fall is a good time to buy.

Check for obvious alterations or flaws and have the car examined by an expert. Sometimes, only the experts will be able to tell a poor restoration from a good one. Have a place to properly store your car and insure your investment. And finally, be prepared for costly repair bills and maintenance, since routine repairs can cost a fortune.

Where to look

As with investing, make sure you know what you’re buying, since the second-hand car business is notorious for pitfalls. In shopping for classic and vintage old cars, the local newspaper is probably not the best place to look. Collectors’ meetings and car shows might be a better option. The largest used-car dealer in Central Europe, AAA Auto, is based in the Czech Republic and you could start your search for a good deal on their website.

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CEO Anthony Denny is happy to concede that the name of his company is “cheesy and tacky.” But his brazen attempt to ensure the name is at the top of the phone directory has not prevented it from gaining almost universal brand recognition in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, and Poland. The 45-year-old Australian with Czech roots has nurtured his used-car company from a single lot into central Europe´s largest second-hand dealer. AAA Auto this year became the second used-car dealer to go public, following in the footsteps of CarMax of the US, raising €39m by listing on the Prague and Budapest stock exchanges. In a region where vehicle theft is rife and rolling back odometers is common practice, selling cars owned by the dealer (breaking with the prevailing local custom whereby dealers act as sales agents for car owners), with a money-back guarantee if there is a legal problem, gives buyers a sense of security. “Used cars in central Europe are often associated with fraud and crime,” Denny says. “AAA´s approach means customers are pretty sure of what they´re buying.”

Another alternative source to find your dream car could be to take a little trawl through eBay under the category “classic cars.” It’s no problem picking up vintage cars there for a bargain. And the import costs will often be no more than the pric of a ferry ticket, as long as the car is drivable.

In the end, all you can do is seek out a vehicle that looks good on you and go for what you can afford. If it turns out to be worth a fortune one day, then that is great. If not, you will still feel great on the road wherever you go.

How much?

To give you a little perspective on what it is buyers in this market can and will spend, here’s a list of ten of the most expensive cars available. But this isn’t precisely a top ten list of the most expensive cars. That would basically be a bunch of Bentleys and Rolls-
Royces and only a few others. So instead here are the most expensive cars of each of ten carmakers, so no manufacturer got two slots. After all, even if you could afford a garage full of Rollses, you’d probably like to have a Ferrari or Lamborghini, too…

  • Saleen S7 €288,000
  • Bentley Azure Convertible Mulliner €274,480
  • Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible €265,000
  • Lamborghini Murciélago €199,290
  • Aston Martin Vanquish €166,440
  • Ferrari 575 M Maranello €156,950
  • Porsche GT2 €131,400
  • BMW Z8 €94,900
  • Mercedes-Benz CL 600 €86,870
  • Jaguar XKR 100 Coupe and Convertible €71,540

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