Car collecting can be hard work in Hong Kong. The city's rich have always ensured a plentiful supply of the world's finest models, but the best collectables are often either hoarded, soon snapped up by canny friends or sold off into the local second-hand market, where too many may be serviced on the cheap in back-street repair shops.
Many Hong Kong collectors have therefore had to search overseas via specialist magazines, or friends of friends, for the car of their dreams, inspect it and then - if its provenance seemed right - ship it home. This exercise could take time and, for new investors, involve risk. But Ferrari dealer Italian Motors has shown car collecting need not be such a hassle by lining up three classics, a 1985 288 GTO, a 1990 F40 and 2004 Enzo, that it had acquired overseas for Hong Kong clients. The cars, worth a combined HK$18 million, were bought through the dealership's new Ferrari Collector Car Finder's Service, 'a trouble-free facility for customers to acquire Ferraris regardless of the cars' location worldwide'. The three collectables came from the United States and Germany, says Italian Motors deputy managing director John Newman. 'They were the best examples of the models we were asked to locate by the three owners,' he says.
The cars were found 'through our network of contacts that we've worked with for many years, primarily based in Europe, the US and Australia', Newman says. 'Once the negotiations were complete, our freight forwarder arranged shipping - or airfreight in one case - of the cars to Hong Kong.'
The purchasing process can vary from several days to many months, he says, and shipping a car from Europe takes about four weeks. Although shipping costs can vary, it is usually less than US$10,000, including insurance.
The dealer also checks the provenance of Ferraris under the marque's Maranello-based Classiche Programme, which the marque introduced in 2006 to provide owners of historic and limited-series Prancing Horse cars with authenticity verification, parts, restoration and maintenance advice. The programme 'has already issued more than 1,000 certifications of authenticity' for road-going Ferraris more than 20 years old and competition cars, the marque says.
Classiche Certification is 'straightforward' at Italian Motors' Ap Lei Chau or Sha Tin showrooms, and its cost 'can vary from between HK$30,000 and HK$50,000, depending on the model, Newman says. 'As long as the car is original in all major respects, such as the body, engine, transmission and so on, the car will pass the inspection and receive its certificate of authenticity, the dealer says. But if you are going to collect Ferraris, buy the best you can afford.
'Anything from the Enzo era is highly collectable, plus the Enzo car itself,' he says, adding Ferraris' values are rising. Low mileage is not a particular priority; provenance and condition are more important.
'If the car is not already Ferrari Classiche-certified, have us do it.'