Monday, May 2, 2011
Lately I have seen interest in classic and exotic cars revive after what we will politely refer to as the recent economic downturn. That's not to say that everyone has funds sufficient to buy a Ferrari GTO or 412P or even a Berlinetta Lusso for that matter. Cars that you've owned and swore to yourself you'd never drive again are starting to fetch stellar sums of money which is a clear warning that a bubble is reforming for an upcoming burst that no one could possibly have forseen like every other bubble that ever was.
The trick in car collecting--also known as flipping for profit which you affect not to need--is in acquiring a car with provenance and chain-of-snobbery intact. A friend of mine owned a Ferrari that previously belonged to Françoise Sagan, a fact that increased its value. Someone else owned something that had been Steve McQueen's at one time resulting in a valuation at least double that of a similar car owned by some other guy somewhere. It explains why a friend of mine engraved an inscription from Mr. Rolls to Mr. Royce on a silver hip flask--"Dude, epic party!" or some similar sentiment thereby rendering the cost of silver a moot consideration in the sale price of the item.
All this is neither here nor there unless you are the first to realize that a celebrity connection exists with the car you are flipping. I mean collecting. If the party who is selling the car to you knows that it had been owned by Eric Clapton, the Shah of Iran or Porfirio Rubirosa, you are going to pay the price for it and then where is your profit margin? The essential is to find a car whose buyer is completely unaware of the car's history and therefore willing to sell it to you for three back of book.
The best approach for anyone seeking to purchase a car prior to establishing its celebrity provenance would be to visit a rental car agency's sell-off department and acquire the most expensive offering they have with the assurance that, at some point, a celebrity drove the car and you should now be able to flip it for a sum exceeding what you paid for it.