Classic cars offer an alternative asset class for investment - CNBC Africa

Classic cars offer an alternative asset class for investment

Southern Africa

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1968 Ford mustang convertible

“Classic cars – the term is normally applied to cars between 20 to 40 years old. We concentrate on investment-grade classics from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, but there’s also modern classics now. That’s where the big opportunity is for South African buyers because there are more of them in the country,” Crossley & Webb co-founder Gareth Crossley told CNBC Africa on Wednesday.

Car clubs for luxury vehicles such as Jaguar and Aston Martin already exist in South Africa, as well as clubs for much older cars such as the Ford Thunderbird, which was first manufactured in 1955.

“It’s very much an investment of passion like art collecting, watch collecting. They’re various indices that measure investments including classic cars now, so the passion element is very important,” Crossley explained.

“These days, due to the poor performance of traditional investments, investors are looking at tangible investments of passion. That’s why they’re looking to put money into classic cars.”

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Crossley & Webb buys, sells and restores classic cars, and plans to convert their company building in Wembley, Cape Town, into a showroom.

The showroom is for the public to learn more about classic cars as an investment. It will also offer investment grade classics, sports cars and super cars such as Maserati and Bentley.

“This gives our clients the modern alternative and the most financially intelligent way of driving a variety of modern supercars, with international access,” said Crossley.

He added that there has always been a mixture of buyers in the market, from those wanting to buy a classic car and sell at a later stage, to those who buy them for the pleasure of owning a classic.  

The brand that has always topped the car investment list has been the Ferrari, and continues to do so today.

“In the late ‘80s there was a classic car boom, and it was full of speculators. These days, with the internet, with great classic car events such as Pebble Beach, Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Revival, there is a larger base of enthusiasm,” said Crossley.

Kenya has been host to the Africa Concours d’Elegance car show for over 20 years, which indicates that a demand for classic car investment and collection also exists on the continent.

South Africa’s mid to high-end classic car market is not as crowded as America’s or Europe’s, prompting Crossley and his partner Bryan Webb to provide a local market for the country’s classic car enthusiasts.

“What I’m finding is that many European dealers and buyers are actually poaching the best classics from South Africa. That’s why I’ve also set up the business. Unless we educate and provide a platform for the high-end cars in South Africa, they’re all going to go overseas, especially with the exchange rates being in their favour,” said Crossley.

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