10 essential checks when buying a classic car in SA

<b>UNDER THE HAMMER:</b> A rare 1958 Mercedes Benz 220S Coupe sold for R1.67-million in Johannesburg in November 2015.. <i> Image: Supplied /Stephan Welz & Co</i>
<b>UNDER THE HAMMER:</b> A rare 1958 Mercedes Benz 220S Coupe sold for R1.67-million in Johannesburg in November 2015.. <i> Image: Supplied /Stephan Welz & Co</i>

Cape Town - While an old car is eventually only worth its weight in metal, a true classic can be a major investment, capable of generating immense wealth for a patient collector.

Classic car specialist Jack Rosewitz, a consultant at Stephan Welz & Co auctions, said: "In fact, classic cars have appreciated more than any other investment item." 

A ten-year survey by Knight Frank (Nov 2014) showed collectible cars have appreciated by 469%, followed by gold coins at 254%, art at 226% and London property at 135%. 

Read: 3 classic cars worth R5.6m up for auction in SA

Rosewitz said:"Unlike these other items, classic cars are an amazing investment that you can also drive and enjoy, however, you really need to know what you're doing when you make this kind of large investment."

Buying a rare car in SA

What to look for when buying a classic car:
  1 To be sure it's a good investment, make sure to check it's provenance and conduction - the most important factors when buying a collectible car.
  2 Did the car have a short or limited production run? This will determine whether it's the vehicle has good value.
  3 Was it possibly owned by a famous person or company (interestingly, it does not have to be the same car – only the same make).
  4 Rust, paint chips... what is the condition of the car's exterior?
  5 Is the car in a good mechanical condition? Have a mechanic evaluate the vehicle
  6 Look for classic cars that are currently in demand. The top classic cars are Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes and Jaguar, but there are many others.
  7 Collectible cars don't have to be old – they can be from the 1900s right up until the current year i.e. limited and special editions.
  8 Look for dealers that deal specifically in classic cars. The correct market value is really a car's auction market (the current market value). 
  9 Determine a benchmark figure that will assist you in investing wisely. It’s most important to research the South African market in the brand and model you’re looking for; through dealer’s ad auction houses or also various car clubs.
  10 Always seek the advice of a good consultant to validate whether the price of a classic car is fair.

R100k reward offered for missing race car in SA

Do owners splurge on rare cars in South Africa?

If you're considering purchasing a classic vehicle but wary of the long-term payoff, consider the following:

The most expensive collectible cars sold at Stephan Welz & Co:

  • A 1937 Mercedes 540K Cabrio - R7.37 million sold in 2007 (current value is R22-million)
  • Mercedes 300 Adenauer Pillarless coupe - R1.87 million – 2015
  • 1958 Mercedes 220s Ponton, 2 door Coupe - R1.671 million – 2015
  • 1960 Mercedes 190SL Sports Coupe - R2.1 million – 2015
  • 1933 Talbot 105 Van Den Plas - R1.6 million – 2014
  • 1958 Chevrolet Corvette Roadster - R1.1 million – 2014

The record collectible car sale in SA (as held by Stephan Welz & Co.):

A 1937 Mercedes 540K Cabrio that sold at Stephan Welz & Co. for R7.37 million in 2010

What's the most expensive car sold this year?

A Ferrari classic racing car -  a 1957 Ferrari 355 S Scaglietti which raced in Le Mans and other famous races – which sold in Europe in January 2016 for R575-million/ $35.7 million.

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