The year had just begun and I had some free days left. It gave me the time to contemplate the market for “cool” cars. I know that everybody has another notion of what a cool car is, but I came to terms that the times are definitively over for buying such cars for little money.
Like many petrol-heads, I am obsessed with the desire to drive an air-cooled Porsche. But unlike many others, I’ve never thought they were cheap. They might have been affordable at some point in the past. A point where I was too young and too broke to own such a car – or even before. The off-scale prices for classic 911s are nothing new, but I observed something even more curious. To me it seems that air-cooled prices are dragging up water-cooled 911s as well. When I browsed the online market for 911s two years ago, a water-cooled 996 started at 12,500€. Those cars where often in doubtful condition, no question. But since a mediocre air-cooler starts at 27,000€, people tend to go for substitutes. And by numbers the 996 is the better car. Despite all the fuss the 996 was the best-selling 911 at its time.
Where have they gone..
I don’t know if it makes a difference, but every time I browse 911 adds, I end up at some dealer’s page from Belgium, the Netherlands, or sometimes Germany. In the background of the pics, I usually see dozens of Porsches, in all colors and conditions. People like me are craving them and some just seem to hoard them. To be fair, most of those cars come from over-seas and get imported via western Europe. I already got from international blogs that affordable cars are becoming rare in the USA. After I read Rob Siegel’s book, I was utterly surprised how cheap euro-classics could have been in the States. 6,000USD for 2002tii!? Wow, I can’t even blame the Dutch for making a business.
Back to my apparent point. I often hear people say that they should have bought “that” car back in the days. When they were cheap and nobody wanted them. I am talking about something like a BMW E21 323i or early M3s, Quattros and Supras. And I bet you know many more. Were they ever really cheap? If the were, they were in awful condition.
Sometimes one can find a less-than-1k car. But none of them from the list that is mentioned above. Instead, they are mostly under-powered and white plain Janes, like my 520i. Others are DIY-tuned in the worst way and need a lot of attention. They are nothing to drive and enjoy right away then. Usually you would have to fix the crimes of countless pre-owners until you realize that you could have a bought the better one for all the money.
I suppose that a lot of interesting car’s were sold to foreign countries. Germany has quite high environmental and safety standards on cars. Once the costs for maintenance got too high, people get rid of their old beaters and sell them to countries where the standards are lower.
Wall Street is the road they drive
And then there are the cars that were classics right from start. The ones that survived and became objects of investments. Recently, I heard the term “blue chip car” for the first time. Exactly, like the stocks!
In the recent issue of Automobilsport, car auction expert Matthieu Lamoure claims that the market starts to “calm down”. Mr. Lamoure states that the market is self-regulating and sustainable. However he calls 911s and Ferrari Testarossas mass production cars, but I hope the trend will also penetrate through to the cars of the common man.
Cars with a classic appeal seem to become a lifestyle accessory. On one hand, it’s great to have more young people getting into classics. On the other hand, prices rise up for our badly desired junk. I was honestly shocked when I saw the prices of relatively ordinary cars just below the prices of top level cars at last year’s Bremen Classic Motorshow. Examples?
27,000€ for a VW Golf G60! Pretty cool and nearly mint, but come on! 10,000€ for a VW Scirocco GTX II. Sold! What has gotten into you!? 12,000€ for BMW E28 525e! Sold! REALLY!? Later that day, I incidentally witnessed how a VW T3 Multivan changed owner. Price tag: 29,000€. An original US-spec T3 camper was for sale for 49,000€. I am just 32 but I needed to sit down for a moment.
Sebastian and I will return to check the 2017’s BCMS and see what happened during the last 12 months.
Is there hope?
Well, of course there are still affordable cars out there. But affordable is not cheap. My own BMW 1800 is a fairly good example. A car like this is usually in the upper 4-digit range. It doesn’t make you poor to buy a car like that, but it takes commitment. It’s far enough money to be seriously regretful, if the car turns out to be the wrong choice. Buying your dream car could become a matter of head, not of heart. Choose wisely.
Let me know what you think. Post a comment below or on Facebook!