Owning a classic car is appealing for many reasons, not least of which is a hankering for a bygone era when leather and steel trumped chrome and plastic. Another is that many of these vehicles have proved to be lucrative investments for some car aficionados, with cars such as the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS selling for US$650,000. A good return when you consider that the original selling price was US$14,500 (about US$99,000 at today's prices). However, buying a classic car purely as an investment is not as easy as it sounds, according to Ian Foster, vice-chairman of the Classic Car Club of Hong Kong, and editor of the club's magazine. 'If you know what you are doing then buying a classic car can be an investment,' Mr Foster said. 'But if you are buying it on a whim or if you're vague on the topic then you will most likely make costly mistakes.' So how do you buy an investment as opposed to a dud? The key is research, according to Mr Foster, who said that not all models were equally popular across the globe. For example, Porsche 911s from the late 1980s are not very popular in Hong Kong, but there is a significant market for them in the United States. 'It is important to buy a car that appeals to the local market because otherwise you're relying on someone overseas wanting that car enough to pay for it and the shipping and re-registration, which is not all that common,' Mr Foster said. Another essential precaution is physically checking the car out. 'There is a wide selection of cars available through websites and classic car magazines. But without seeing it, driving it and getting under it, it is very difficult to make good decisions,' Mr Foster said. 'So there is a big risk associated with buying from overseas, which a lot of people do because stock is pretty limited in Hong Kong.' He advises buyers to take along a mechanic or have the car examined by a workshop if they are not mechanically minded. Other key things to look for include the number of previous owners and a history of receipts which proves work has been done on the car. Mr Foster also believes that buyers need to base their decision on the intrinsic value of the car, not the book or resale value. 'One piece of advice I always give people is that if they are going to buy a classic for the sole purpose of investment, they are going to make a mistake. 'The car is just sitting in the garage and in three years from now an enthusiast like me is going to come round and snap it up for cheap,' he said, adding that cars needed to be driven to maintain their value. 'Buy something that you are going to enjoy. And then, when you've gotten your enjoyment out of it and you sell it for a profit, all the better for you. The experience is where the real value is.'