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Desirable Classics PDF Print E-mail

At an auction of classic cars, held at the historic Brooklands race track in southern England in early June, a 1931 Bentley 4? litre Vanden Plas Tourer sold for a staggering ?670,500.? At the same sale an ex-works MGB rally car went for ?141,922 and a 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coup? for ?162,037.

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However, it is not always these high-priced automobiles that are considered classics.? There are active classic car clubs in many Asian countries, where virtually anything can be lovingly restored.? In Hong Kong, the Classic Car Club has around 500 members, all owning a vehicle they treasure, whether it is a rare Ferrari, a humble MGA or even a Volkswagen Beetle.?

A True Enthusiast

Sales and marketing director Gary Pudney is a Hong Kong-based enthusiast who owns a number of exotic cars. ?I have four cars: a 1993 Ferrari 348 Spyder; a 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL; a 1991 BMW 850 V12; and 1990 Porsche 944 S2 Convertible. In fact, though, I rarely get the time to drive them, but who says you have to drive them to own them?

?I bought them because these were the cars I had on my wall as a youngster.? Then they were posters and I could not afford the cars; now I can.? Three of the cars are in Hong Kong ? scattered around in various locations ? and the Ferrari is in long-term storage in England.? In fact I have not seen the car for five years; I have probably only driven 500 miles in eight years.

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?I recently looked at an ex-Pentti Arikola Vauxhall Chevette HSR and an Audi Quattro and again, it was the poster thing.? The Quattro: I think everyone of my age group wants a Quattro.? I?m told there are only two in Hong Kong so it would be nice to have one of those.? As far as the Chevette is concerned, it would be purely to do a little historic rallying when I?m in the UK.?

Gary says he has a ?wish list? of about 25 cars and the Chevette just caught his eye.

?They rally car was not on the original list but I made some enquiries. Top of the wish list is the Ferrari F40, with the Metro 6R4 a close second.? This was a mid-engined, six cylinder rally car.? An Escort Cosworth is on the list because when I was younger, there were people like Malcolm Wilson (now boss of the Ford WRC team) and Carlos Sainz in Ford Cosworths, so that?s on the list.? I have tried to buy several in the UK but each time something went wrong.?

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Bonhams Auction House

Carson Chan is the managing director of Bonhams 1793 Limited, sponsors of the annual Classic Car Show in Hong Kong. He also owns a 1989 Porsche Speedster which he keeps in California.? He explains an important point:

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?The line between an investor and an enthusiast is a little blurred.? This is across the board: in wine, watches, paintings.? You have to have a certain kind of passion to start collecting and I think, in the car department, these buyers are enthusiasts.? Of course, nobody wants to lose money when buying something expensive. But I think if you are passionate about something, if you have a good eye, often you will make the right decision. And if you do that it will become a successful investment.

?You should start with a passion, not from an investment angle.? If you start by thinking you will buy something to make money out of it, I think they may prevent you from looking at it properly.? But if you are passionate about it and understand its history, its importance in automotive history, then I think you will make the right decision.

?But how do you select something that will maintain its value?? First of all you must select the quality of car you intend to purchase. ?Tip-top condition, very high quality cars will always fetch the most money in the market.? And when I say high quality, it means a very clean history, a clear provenance, where it comes from, who restored it, how was it restored.? These questions are more important regardless of what brand or what make.

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?But this goes for all categories, whether it is watches or paintings or whatever.? I get asked this a lot.? I think if you are truly interested in certain items, like watches, if you buy a watch and you truly love it and you wear it every day for 15 years, and now it comes the time to sell it and it loses, say, 20 per cent.? But you have enjoyed it for 15 years.? I think having a passion for any particular watch or a particular car is the ultimate shield for a good investment. If you don?t make money, you just break even but you have enjoyed it for a number of years, how can you put a price on that??

Hong Kong?s Classic Car Club

Carl Yuen is club development manager for the Classic Car Club of Hong Kong.

?Apart from the various activities, and the newsletter the members receive, membership of the club entitles them to a special movement permit from the Transport Department,? says Carl. ?This means that if their car is over 20 years old, they do not have to register them or pay road tax.? Similarly, they are not confined to a right-hand drive car; it can be a left-hand drive or even a central driving position, like a Messerschmitt or a McLaren.? We also have an insurance deal with brokers that specialise in classic cars and car collections.

?Personally, I mainly own German cars: Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche.? The VWs are all Beetles which I believe are classics. The Beetle was created by Ferdinand Porsche with money from the Nazi party, but they also stand for ?Flower Power? in the Sixties.?

Annually the club holds the well-attended Chater Road show.? Yuen says that this particular show is the club?s flagship.

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?We have held it for the last 30 years and I believe people around the region all want to know when the Chater Road show is going to be.? It?s therefore an international event and for the last two or three years we have had sponsorship from Bonhams the auction house. That helps raise our prestige, but it also helps them because they are supporting the largest classic car show in Hong Kong.

?The standard of cars has improved tremendously in recent years and that is purely peer pressure because they see a certain level of originality, equipment that comes with the car, but also some people are buying cars simply to win at the show.? We have had racing cars or American cars brought in specifically for this event.? But we believe that cars are not just for show.? The rules of the car show are that the vehicle has to be driven in and driven out. But our judges also give credit to members that drive their cars regularly.?

Colin Barlow

Dental technician Colin Barlow is an out-and-out MG man, having owned a number over the years:

?I have an !958 MGA at present, the 2007 award-winning car for ?Best in Show? at the annual Classic Car Club?s Concours d?Elegance?event held at?Chater Rd in October each year. I don?t do all my own restoration work, but am always visiting the workshop in Sai Kung to oversee the action, but it took?well over a year to restore the MGA.?

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The blue 1958 MGA was found abandoned in a field in Pennsylvania, USA?in 2006,?purchased and shipped to Hong Kong. Barlow?s restorer Richard Hawkins performed a complete ground up restoration, which included removing the body, welding and the fitting of new wooden floorboards. The engine was stripped and all wiring renewed. Total cost was ?well over HK$400,000,? says Barlow.

Italian Legend

The Ferrari Dino 206GT was originally launched at the 1967 Turin Motor Show and was named after Enzo Ferrari?s beloved son Dino, who tragically died of leukaemia aged just 24.? Powered by a two litre V6 engine, produced by Fiat, designed by Franco Rocchi, the all-alloy unit was mounted transversely behind the car?s occupants.

In Hong Kong Gerry Kipling, the managing director of a property consultancy, owns a classic Dino 206, one that has won numerous Concours d?Elegance awards around the region.

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?My Dino is actually a ?68 model,? says Gerry. ?In fact the total production amounted to just 152 of the earlier, alloy-bodied Dino. It was designed by Pininfarina but I understand the V6 engine came from Fiat.? I believe it was to do with homologation for Ferrari?s aspirations in racing.?

Gerry did not actually seek out this classic.? He explains: ?In truth I always wanted a Dino, but at that stage I was not clear whether it would be a 206 or a 246, but when I saw a 206 advertised I was quickly aware of its rarity and contacted (long-time Ferrari enthusiast) Andrew Turner who organised the viewing, but frankly, it did not take long to make a decision.?

?It was restored by Nick Cartright in the UK, who is generally acknowledged to be the Dino expert, and I must say, by virtue of its awards at Concours events, it has obviously been done well.? I was fortunate that when Nick restored it he was able to enter it for the UK Ferrari Club?s national Concours d?Elegance event in 1998 where we achieved second overall. The standard and level of competition in those national events is pretty formidable.

?Subsequently, in Hong Kong, there have been quite a few successes in various categories, and most recently in 2009, at the Ferrari Owners Club event in Repulse Bay, I received the winner?s trophy for the best V6 series.?

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Gerry Kipling, like so many classic car enthusiasts, owns more than one.? He elaborates:? ?It has become a rather contagious habit.? It started with the Dino, but I became very interested in Ferrari and was subsequently able to acquire an F40 and a Maranello back in the UK. And by way of variety I also have a 1965 Mustang convertible.

?If I had a wish list, it would include a Ferrari Superfast, which would be of course massively expensive, but that era of Ferrari models is my favourite.? Apart from that, it is quite a job keeping what I have mobile.? I drive the Dino, subject to weather conditions, about once a week.? It?s certainly a car that thrives on being driven; equally, when not used, unfortunately we can have problems.?

 
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