Market Watch: On the up and up

By: Cliff Chambers, Photography by: RM Sothebys/Jaguar/General Motors Holden/Prime Creative Media

Older vehicles hammer pretty much everything else in the investment arena

few weeks back, my news feed glowed with a headline that read ‘House Prices Up 573 Percent In 43 years’. Wise heads in the finance world would doubtless have been nodding approval, but resting comfortably in garages across the world were millions of classic cars chuckling quietly to themselves and saying: ‘How nice for the houses.’ 

A 500-plus per cent increase in the value of anything is excellent, even if it does take half a century (almost) to happen, but it’s no big deal. Gemstones, gold bars, fine art, even Barbie dolls in the original packaging can deliver enjoyment and that level of appreciation. What they won’t do is cart the family across three states to join with like-minded owners at an event celebrating the existence of your particular car.


Jaguar D-Type Prototype

Our Value Charts don’t quite go back 43 years, but near enough. In 1984 when I began researching values for a book that would appear in 1987, older vehicles weren’t seen much at all as mainstream investments. 

It is well-known that former Pink Floyd drummer and major car collector Nick Mason in 1977 paid £35,000 (abou t AUD$67,000) for his Ferrari 250GTO – a car worth today around £50 million. 

Events were held even back then that hosted the sale of significant vehicles, although rarely for exceptional prices. That changed for Australia in 1984 when the collection of John ‘Jumbo’ Goddard was auctioned in Sydney and his Le Mans-winning D-Type Jaguar sold for $220,000. 


Ferrari 250 GTO was sure worth the initial investment.

That was almost ten times the money paid for Goddard’s equally rare Austin Healey 100S but a pittance when compared with recent D-Type sales. These since 2016 have included £11 million spent in the UK and over USD$20 million at a North American sale on cars with no significant race history. 

In Australia, our collector vehicle Gold Standard is carried by the Falcon GT-HO Phase III. The model that whitewashed Bathurst in 1971 and came back to win the 1973 Touring Car title is only slightly more practical as regular transport than a D-Type, but has gone from being worth $20,000 during the early 1980s to occasionally exceed $1 million.

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King Henry, the Phase III.

About 220 genuine Phase IIIs from the original build run of 300 cars have been tracked and documented by the Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III Register. This book, published in 2021, generates demand at similar levels to the cars it features and considers the market changes that have occurred since Phase IIIs were seen as just another old competition car. 

Even models that didn’t warrant a second look during the 1980s have risen to the status of exceptional investments, with appreciation at or above 1000 per cent. 

As an example, the LJ GTR Torana had for decades languished in the shadow of the triple-carb XU-1. In 1994, an excellent LJ cost around $8000, but during the 2004-07 ‘boom’ its value soared and has continued to rise spectacularly. In the space of 30 years the LJ has climbed to a current average of $117,000 which, if my calculator hasn’t led me astray, is a gain of around 1450 per cent.  

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Torana earned its stripes in competition.

You can’t, unless rents keep rising uncontrollably, raise a family in a cherished car but nor can you take your house on that border hopping adventure, being surrounded by admirers each time you stop, to attend the model’s National Rally. 

That’s part of the old-car attraction and just one reason why most of us would keep owning special cars even if their values hardly increased at all. The fact that they do just makes the journey more interesting. 

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