As 2017 starts the classic car world looks ahead to see what may be the cars to invest in as the year goes on. Traditionally Italian cars have been worth while investments, that is if you have the means of course. Record breaking Ferrari’s tend to grab the headlines but what do classic car experts think might make the grade in 2017?
Stu Carpenter of Copley Motorcars, advises that these aren’t investment tips, and remind us that there are many non-financial returns to be had. “I think the market has become tired over the last six years,” he explains. “A lot of cars were being sold just because they were available, with little regard for how much the buyers loved them. People today are buying only and exactly what they want – there are far fewer, if any, external forces in their minds.”
Having millions of pounds in the bank isn’t always needed to buy what could be a future classic. High-end competition car specialist Jan B Luhn believes the appeal and desirability of Ferrari’s modern World Endurance Championship challengers, particularly those with Works backing, have yet to be realised. “People will soon realise that these are proper Works Ferraris that raced at Le Mans, in fantastic fields against many other manufacturers,” he explains. “You’ve got to remember that teams campaign just two or three cars each season – there were just over 20 semi-Works 458 GTE cars built, and a similar number of F430 GT2s.” He’s also keen to point out that you don’t need a 20-strong group of mechanics to use the cars. “They’re designed to last up to 24 hours, so they’re relatively straightforward to run and enjoy.” With regards to values, Lühn cites that good, honest cars can be had for below £1M but how long for only time will tell.
Lesser known models
Manufacturers are, according to Dietrich Hatlapa of the Historic Automobile Group International, ‘getting their acts together’ in terms of recognising and capitalising on their heritages, with Lamborghini in particular expanding its Polo Storico department to encompass some of the lesser-known models from its back catalogue. “It has an immediate effect on a model’s visibility, not only because there is a lot of PR, but also because of the new availability of spare parts,” he explains. “Models such as the Islero and the Jarama might not be as spectacular as the Miura or the Countach, but their extreme rarity – just 225 Isleros were built – more than makes up for it. It’s a distinguished taste, but you’re getting an amazing 12-cylinder car with lots of interesting technology.” Similarly, Timm Meinrenken from Thiesen Hamburg sees the equally rare Maserati Mistral as a ‘car to have’ for anyone with a serious interest in Maseratis, particularly with the burgeoning Classiche department assisting owners. “Finding an untouched example is rare, but they’re an interesting – and far more affordable – alternative to a Ferrari of the same era.”
Classic Alfa Romeo
With more modern cars so prominently featured in this list, we were pleasantly surprised when Stu Carpenter of Copley Motorcars opted for a pre-War machine instead. “I’m going to go old-school and say that, for me, the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 is a car to watch,” he says. “The big Zagato and Touring 8Cs obviously don’t need any help, but I think the 1750s are a little behind, perhaps because they’re not so overtly beautiful.” While he deems a Zagato-bodied Gran Sport ‘the look’, he also notes that there are a number of interesting one-offs out there as well. “They’re very rare, historically important and, in my opinion, terribly attractive. It’s not necessarily an undervalued car – a good example with a good history is within £2m – but I certainly think they’ll become more appreciated.”
Restoration or restored?
Owing to the time and financial expense of reputable and high-quality restorations, James Cottingham of DK Engineering believes the best-of-the-best examples of such Ferrari models as the Dino represent good value at the moment. “The cost of restoration has risen as a result of increasing labour rates, more expensive spare parts and simply because the best in the business are always so busy,” he explains. “If you look for the very best examples of certain models such as the Dino, you’ll see it actually makes more financial sense than buying a project that you’ll then spend two years restoring at a cost of £200,000-300,000 plus VAT.” Currently, the best cars are trading for not much more than unrestored examples, which is a gap Cottingham reckons will only expand moving forward. “All Dinos – even the well looked after models – need restoring, and right now there isn’t a big enough spread between the good and the bad cars.”
Max Girardo will be looking out for 1950s sports cars with great competition history in 2017, particularly those that scored notable results in significant events such as the Mille Miglia. “I really believe in, among others, low-roofed Lancia Aurelia B20 GTs that finished well in a big race,” he says. “Lancia is gaining more and more interest as a brand. It’s an educated choice and it might not be as powerful as a Ferrari, but its innovative chassis and braking systems are much better, and make it a thoroughly enjoyable drive.”
Of course, the other benefit of these cars is their eligibility for modern retrospective events such as the Mille Miglia, as Peter Wallman is keen to point out. “If you can find a car that’s in a sensible price bracket and going to get you admission to a renowned event, then people are going to climb all over each other to get it, particularly if it did the event in the period,” he comments. “Cars from the small bespoke Italian manufacturers such as the double-bubble Zagato-bodied Abarths and Lancias were produced in such low numbers and are very difficult to research, but they’re essentially mini versions of the ‘big banger’ 1950s and ’60s Ferraris and people are now beginning to appreciate their small, delicate and clever designs.”
*Thanks to ClassicDriver for information