Footdown

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 December, 2008, 12:00am
 

Classic investments

Motor traders are notoriously optimistic in recession. So we are not surprised to hear British classic car experts say the value of collectible cars remains buoyant despite the meltdown.

James Szkiller, from the Classic and Sports Car Centre, says some classic models are bought as investments. '[People] are looking at the banking crisis and they want to put their money into something safe, which they can enjoy,' he says.

Classic car values are increasing, following the lead of prestige vehicles such as Aston Martins and Ferraris, says classic car website www.dep-o.co.uk editor, Simon Charlesworth.

'People who would have bought a GBP100,000 [HK$1.16 million] Aston DB5 eight years ago can no longer afford today's GBP250,000 [HK$2.89 million] price-tag, so they're having to look elsewhere,' he says.

'It's this demand which is dragging everything up. At the top of the market you have people buying classics as an investment and at the entry level, you have people turning to classics because they are more affordable to run and maintain. Even a specialist classic agreed-value insurance policy will cost you a lot less than a policy for a modern car,' he says.

Charlesworth also says television shows such as the British series Life on Mars, set in the 1970s, 'heightened nostalgia' for cars not traditionally labelled 'classics'.

'It's incredible, but then it's always been the case that if you look after a classic then it will appreciate in value, unlike a new car. Drive a modern [car] out of the showroom and onto the street, and you stand to lose 40 per cent of its value instantly,' says Charlesworth.

But with the value of the British pound low compared to the Hong Kong dollar, there are some fine bargains for all budgets.

Up to GBP5,000 (HK$57,500):

Morris Minor 1000 (above): it's not sexy but it's so tough it feels as if it's made from cast iron. How many other 60-year-old classics are still on the road?

MG Midget (below left): it may be small but there is more interior room than you would think. It has fantastic spare parts backup, you can even buy a new body. Not fast in a straight line though. Up to GBP15,000 (HK$173,500):

Citroen DS: a smooth-riding icon that's groovier than ever. Its height-adjustable suspension makes it impossible to clamp or tow away. Magnifique. Triumph TR6: a six-cylinder sports car that's the last of the real Triumph TRs. Great spares backup and an exhaust note to embarrass some V8s.

Up to GBP25,000 (HK$289,000):

Bristol 401/403: a classy, understated beauty with sweet two-litre six-cylinder. Years ahead of its time, this is a serious contender for the coolest car of all time. Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GT: eye-popping Italian looks, twin-cam engine and handling to bring tears to your eyes. One of the truly iconic Alfa Romeos, which is almost as sexy as Sophia Loren.

Maybe. But we still say Hong Kong will never be a world-class classic car hub until we see a Robin Reliant, Sinclair C5 and a Ford Anglia lined up together on Chater Road.

Gemini drivers, be warned

If you were born between May 22 and June 21, watch out.

Gemini drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident than any other star sign, according to recent research by British accident management specialist, Accident Exchange. The study of more than 115,000 accidents found that Gemini drivers, known for their impatience, were involved in nearly 9 per cent of all the crash claims handled by the company.

Taureans, commonly thought to be stubborn, ranked in second place on the table of the most accident-prone star signs, with 8.84 per cent of reported crashes. Adventurous Arians are a close third accounting for 8.66 per cent of the total.

In contrast, quick-minded Scorpions (such as Foot Down) and curious Sagittarians were the least likely to be involved in a collision, making up only 7.7 per cent each of drivers involved in accidents.

Celebrity drivers involved in recent motoring accidents include Courteney Cox (Gemini), Morgan Freeman (Gemini), Shia LeBeouf (Gemini), George Clooney (Taurus) and Jerry Seinfeld (Taurus). However, Top Gear presenter, Richard Hammond, who was involved in a near-fatal crash while filming, defies his more fortunate Sagittarian sign.

Which reminds us, have you had your car fung shui-ed or blessed? Tell us on cars@scmp.com

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