Market Watch: Looking to the World

By: Cliff Chambers, Photography by: RM Sotheby's/Burns & Co/Mercedes-Benz/Shannons/Ferrari

It is hard to go past the Prancing Horse as a rock solid investment

Market Watch: Looking to the World
Always a worthy investment

The desire to own interesting cars is not something confined to our lifetimes or any particular part of the world. 

Famous people with fast cars inhabited Hollywood during the 1930s, lolling on Locomobiles and Duesenbergs while big portions of the USA starved. And across the Atlantic, coach-built Bentleys were racing trains.

During the 1950s and '60s, the big accumulations started coming to light and names synonymous with classic vehicles rose to prominence; among them Bill Harrah, the Schlumpfs, Shah of Persia and the Sultan of Brunei.

Bang for your buck, US$48.4M 250 GTO engine.

Australia’s market for evocative models has grown steadily since the 1980s, punctuated by a few peaks and equal numbers of troughs. However, we are a corner store when set against the global megamart of collector vehicle sales.

If you want to make serious money in the car collecting realm, there are brands that cannot be ignored. They are Ferrari, Ferrari and Ferrari.

1956 Ferrari 290 MM by Scaglietti.

During the first half of 2023, in a market mired by war, interest rate uncertainty, floods and fires, new record prices have been achieved and at least five cars sold for individual amounts above US$10 million.

Of those, four were Ferraris, with the top price being US$30 million and next best $18 million. A near-new Bugatti with $10.6 million took fifth spot.

The money paid for those cars was still well below the absolute record price, of course. It was set in 2022 by a prototype 300SLR straight from the Mercedes-Benz museum which made an astonishing US$143 million.

Prototype Mercedes-Benz 300SLR set the records at US$143M! Catch me if you can.

Where money is not an issue, the significance of the vehicle you buy takes on added importance. Hence, the wrecked and rusted racer (yes, another Ferrari) that was dragged out of a shed and into an auction where it topped US$2 million.

And there are cars available closer to home and for considerably less money that offer equal significance to someone.

At a recent auction conducted by Burns & Co. in Melbourne, an incredibly scarce HR Premier with a 186S engine and four-speed transmission sold for more than $100,000.


For most of us, six digits of outlay still isn’t loose change, but whoever invested in that car now owns something far less common than a lot of the mega-million-dollar supercars being sold offshore. 

They will also now have friends for life amongst lovers of scarce Holdens and a massive ‘call me first’ list should they ever decide to sell.

186S 4-speed equpped HR Holden was a pearler.

Not all Ferraris are superstars of course, and those publicly sold in Australia rarely reach dizzying heights, although 246GT Dinos have over the years made 12-cylinder Boxers and similar lookers underwhelming.

Lloyds Auctions in June featured five Ferraris dating from 1987 to 1994 and despite $162,000 being offered on a decent-looking F355, none sold under the hammer.

Similar news came from the Shannons’ Winter Timed Auction which ended on August 22. Four fairly recent Ferraris were offered at starting prices that looked okay but collectively, they didn’t attract a bid.

A new Bugatti hit US$10.6M.

What is doing well? Lots of quite diverse models at a wide range of prices.

If you sat enthralled until the conclusion of the Shannons’ event, you would have seen the timer on their Nissan GTR Nur coupe reset again and again as offers climbed by $100,000 in the space of 30 minutes.

Nur GTR-M is always a hit.

The car ended the night with a hammer price of $332,000 and is believed to have sold.

Others to make vendors smile and hopefully their new owners as well would include the attractive XW GT Falcon automatic at $160,000 (plus premium) and a base-model HK Monaro that finished with $72,000.

One that did disappoint though, was the HK GTS327 which was guided at $320,000 and reached a sullen $261K. Never mind, there’s always next time.

From Unique Cars #483, Sept 2023

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