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Five highlights from Hong Kong’s first major classic car auction

Models from the 1950s onwards are worth between HK$300,000 and HK$4 million and are aimed at new and younger collectors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 May, 2016, 10:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 May, 2016, 6:58pm

Hong Kong’s classic car world could receive a boost on June 11, when newly established RL Neo Classics offers more than 25 collectibles for sale at The Repulse Bay hotel, in the city’s first major auction of vintage vehicles. The cars – models from the 1950s onwards – are worth between HK$300,000 and HK$4 million and are aimed at new and younger collectors, according to Richard Lee, a former Ferrari distributor and the Hong Kong-based auction house’s chairman.

“For this inaugural auction, it took about a year to source our cars, all from local owners and collectors,” said Lee, the former chairman and chief executive of Italian Motors and Auto Italia.

Lee highlighted five of the auction’s finest models.

The first is a 1994 Chevrolet Corvette C4 with a Pininfarina conversion to right-hand-drive that carries an estimated selling price of HK$$300,000 to HK$420,000, which the auctioneer described as “entry level” to encourage classic car ownership. “This is a special Corvette, unlike the Corvette C4 you can find on Sunset Boulevard in California,” Lee said. The car is “from a royal family in Asia.” The collectible is also a former Hong Kong Chater Road concourse winner and has only about 6,400 kilometres on the clock, RL Neo Classics said.

A 1977 Maserati Khamsin is publicised in the auction catalogue as “a time-capsule example with only 307 miles from new” and has an estimated sales range of between HK$1.8 million and HK$2.2 million. The Khamsin is rare because its production was limited to just 430 units, of which 335 had five-speed gearboxes and only 95 were made in right-hand drive, the auctioneer said. “They were, and indeed are, great cars with a layout considered classic for a grand touring motor car,” Lee, a Maserati authority, said. “A claimed top speed of 170 miles (272 kilometres) per hour is nothing to sneer at, either.”

The Khamsin being sold belonged to a world-renowned Maserati collector who keeps more than 150 classic cars as investments, and was the star of the show at Maserati’s 2014 centennial event held at Beijing’s Forbidden City, the auctioneer said. Maseratis are “generally undervalued” and are viewed as good investments right now, “especially a clean, low-mile example such as this one”, Lee said.

Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadsters have many fans in Hong Kong, and this particular car, from 1960, is expected to fetch between HK$900,000 and HK$1.2 million. Extensively refurbished, it is in “astonishingly fine condition”, the auctioneers said. “As a right-hand-drive manual car, it is part of a distinct minority of survivors and, coming with its original hard top, represents the perfect combination of roles: a close-coupled coupe with the top on, or an exciting and chique wind-in-the-hair soft top with it removed,” Lee said. The 190SL’s market value has also outperformed the Dow Jones Index for the past five years, he said.

The angular Ferrari 308GTB for sale “dripped money” and was the “Ferrari that every child of the 1980s wanted”, RL Neo Classics’ prospectus purrs. “These are the Ferraris that saved the company and paved the way for later, arguably, greater success.” This 1981 308GTB has a sales range of between HK$830,000 and HK$980,000 and “represents an entry-level classic Ferrari, an inexpensive, easy way to maintain a drivable Sunday morning classic”, Lee said. “The current owner has been enjoying this machine for the past few years and maintenance bills have been very manageable.”

Hong Kong Ferrari fans might enjoy this ‘landmark’ collectible’s carburettor sound, and note the excellence of this particular car’s paintwork, the auctioneer said. Ferrari prices continue to rise, Lee added. “We have heard people talking about the classic car value bubble bursting since December, but the past quarter’s auction results have confirmed that prices for good quality and sought-after cars have not fallen,” he said. “While it has not increased 20 per cent year-on-year like before, its growth remains strong.” The value of the 308GTB is still going strong in 2016, as compared to the Dow, he said.

The 1992 Porsche 964RS is a limited-edition, stripped-out version of the late 1980s to mid-1990s 911, and is selling at an estimated range of HK$1.8 million to HK$2.2 million, RL Neo Classics said. Popular with gentlemen racers, these “superb track-day machines” were class winners in their day, and “few Porsches have ever given as much” as road cars, the auctioneer said. Classic Porsches have always been one of the easiest makes to maintain, Lee said. “That is why the Tour Auto and Mille Miglia are flooded with so many of these ‘reliable classics’ that the Germans really know how to build — exceptionally robust machines.” The 964RS under auction is in a striking ‘Rubystone’ red, with less than 15,000 kilometres on the clock, and “in concourse condition throughout”, the auctioneer said. Lee said the current owner is a Classic Car Club of Hong Kong member who enjoys bringing this rear-engined RS on the club’s morning drives and still enjoys driving it on public roads. The 964’s value has gained significantly, but the trend has been slowing, Lee said.