Market Watch: Trade Insider

By: Cliff Chambers

Is the auto hobby shrinking, or will it continue to thrive?

Market Watch: Trade Insider
Mark Jansen of Oldtimer Australia.

Behind the bland façade of a factory unit in suburban Brisbane sits a collection of cars and automobilia, to amaze even the most jaded of car pervs.

It’s not a museum, although one of those has opened a few kilometres away, because almost all of the cars located on the premises of Oldtimer Australia can be bought. 

Oldtimer Australia has been owned for the past 12 years by Mark Jansen, an acknowledged authority on Italian exotics (Lamborghini in particular), who acquired the business from its founder, Terry Healy.

The first thing you trip over, quite literally, when entering Mark’s enclave is something that resembles a large blue suitcase. In fact, it’s a Peel P50 two-stroke, born into the 1960s when petrol was cheaper than chips and it was destined never to be a commercial success.  

The Peel is the kind of thing that motor-industry doom sayers suggest we might be driving, once full-sized petrol cars lose their appeal, but Mark Jansen disagrees.

"I think the automotive hobby is getting stronger," he said.

"In 20 years when the mainstream industry has largely gone electric (or perhaps hydrogen powered), there will still be huge demand for cars like these around us."

'Ow much for the motor then?

Regarding the state of the market, Jansen commented as follows.

"During COVID, the supply of high-end quality cars really dried up. We were still busy, but with more mainstream models: MG, Austin-Healey, Triumph, Jaguar etc.

"Fortunately the market has opened up again and whilst things are getting back to normal, certain cars are just hard to find.

"If I were offered a nice Ferrari Dino 246 or a Lamborghini Countach with verified history at fair market value, I could sell them multiple times with a few phone calls.

"That said, the sale of higher value models is patchy. It’s a market where people can afford to be picky. You might get someone who wants a rare car that was Australian delivered and in a particular colour!

"The import of high-value classic cars has essentially stopped due to the impact of Luxury Car Tax."


At the opposite end of the scale are the quirky, fun cars which Mark Jansen says are not his preferred market, but if something good comes up for sale, he won’t reject it.

"We’ve got a Daimler SP250 here at the moment, a Mini Cooper S, two Morgans and a nice Honda S800 Roadster," he said.

"There is always strong demand for these sorts of classic cars. They are loads of fun, easy to live with and offer great value for money.

"The car club scene is as busy as ever and everyone loves the cars and coffee events, which are becoming more popular than a Bunnings barbecue!"

Being realistic about our own cars’ values, is an uncommon  trait amongst Australians, particularly in a market on the move.

Owners seeking advice on realistic selling prices can be disappointed, especially where their vehicle may have hit its peak a couple of years back and they elected at that time not to sell.

Plenty of choices here.

Where reality and reluctance most publicly converge, is during streamed auctions that provide regular weekend amusement for market observers. 

Frequently we see vehicles bid to a point where they should be ‘on the market’, with the auctioneer seeking vendor instruction, only to have it ‘referred’ for negotiation.

Classics of different era, ready to go.

Sometimes a sale does result, but often the lot will reappear at the next sale and can do so on multiple occasions, before the vendor amends their expectations to align with a market which, in Mark Jansen’s words, "has become quite unpredictable."

From Unique Cars #485, Nov 2023

Unique Cars magazine Value Guides

Sell your car for free right here


Get your monthly fix of news, reviews and stories on the greatest cars and minds in the automotive world.