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Classic cars

THE classic car market is thriving and records continue to be set, even this early in 2017. At the recent Scottsdale, Arizona, auctions on January 14-22, for example, Bonhams sold a Jaguar E-type Lightweight Competition for a record-breaking $7.37m (£5.82m), making it the most expensive E-type ever seen at auction.

At the same event, RM Auctions proved demand for modern classics is not letting up either, with a 1995 Ferrari F50 making $3.125m (£2.47m).

Indeed, 1990s cars continue to rocket. A 12,000-mile 1990 Ford Escort RS Turbo S2 (pictured below left) sold for £30,375 at Silverstone Auctions’ NEC Classic Motor Show sale in November 2016.

A 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evo II made an astonishing £120,275, while a 1994 Audi Cabriolet formerly owned by Diana, Princess of Wales, sold for £54,000.

“Modern classics are fashionable and valuable,” says Justin Lazic of Classics Central. “The iconic cars will again create headlines in 2017: keep an eye out for original, lowmileage, well-presented BMW E30 M3s, Peugeot 205 GTIs, Ford Sierra Cosworths and Ferrari Testarossas. “However, this doesn’t mean that everything from that period is worth big money. A £500 Mk4 Escort will always be a £500 car…”

Silverstone Auctions is another firm experiencing the Fast Ford boom. “Fords have almost twice as many hits on our website than any other manufacturer,” said sales manager Will Smith. Escort Cosworths remain a great buy, he continues. What’s more, the uncertainty around Brexit does not seem to be harming the sector – if anything, it’s strengthening it.

In uncertain times, “alternative investments such as gold, wine, art and classic cars perform better than traditional financial investments.”

This is clearly evidenced in recent results.

Jeremy Pattison, managing director at Tennants, agrees:

“Despite recent negative comments regarding the classic car market ‘cooling off’, there will always be a demand for top-end cars.”

Care is still needed, of course.

Sensible estimation is essential for cars of lower value, of average quality and without any great rarity value. However, “low-mileage sports cars which were produced in limited numbers will perform well in 2017 – as, of course, will supercars”.

What about the overall highlights of 2016? The most expensive car sold at auction was the former Bardinon Collection Ferrari 335 S, which made $25.8m (£20.3m) at last February’s Rétromobile 2016 – becoming the most expensive car ever sold in Europe.

A new record for a British car was set at the Monterey RM Sotheby’s sale on August 19, when an Ecurie Ecosse Jaguar D-Type made £16.6m. The first-ever AC Cobra also set a new US high of $13.75m (£10.45m).

Even pre-war cars were hot, with a one-of-seven 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C-2900D Lungo Touring Spider setting a new benchmark of $19.8m (£15.6m) in RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale.

All eyes on 2017 to see if any of these records can be broken.

All prices quoted are premium inclusive.