Experts from the UK’s auction houses predict the stars of this year’s classic car sales
The pandemic has turned many things on the head, not least the classic car market. The so-called ‘correction’ of a few years ago that saw values soften was replaced by a sharp rise in prices, no doubt fuelled by many people having little else to spend their money on. However, that doesn’t mean the notion of a good buy has come to an end, as emphasised by the industry experts we questioned on their hot tips for 2022.
Understandably, the modern classic arena is the one most tipped for expansion. 2021 has already seen a continued increase in popularity for such vehicles almost entirely across the board. Vehicles from the roughly the late ’70s onwards have been strong performers, while earlier, more traditional, classics have generally had a harder time of it.
Experts expect more of the same this year. Hagerty compiled a list of ten classics that could potentially rise in value while being driven and enjoyed for its 2022 UK Bull Market list. The insurance and lifestyle brand produced a selection that features established classics like the MG TD, Triumph TR6, Rolls-Royce Carmargue and Renault 4, but also had a strong emphasis on modern classics. Indeed, five of the entries were first launched in the 1990s or later, comprising the Ferrari 458 Italia, Maserati 3200 GT, Renault Clio Williams, 986-generation Porsche Boxster and R50 MINI.
It’s a similar story amongst the auction houses, with more modern classics set to come onto buyers’ radars. “I think anything from the late ’80s and ’90s still has lots of room for growth,” explained James Wray-Brayshaw of WB and Sons. “Even the early 2000s cars, like Mercedes CLs, Jaguar XK8s and XKRs, first generation MINIs and hot hatches like Clio 172/182 have all have started to turn around on price – especially low mileage cars.”
Chris Holmes at SWVA also tips hot hatches to do well in 2022, while James Johnson at Hobbs Parker sees potential in Japanese cars. “I think the Toyota MR2 Mk3 will see the biggest growth, as they’ve looked very good value for money for a long time,” said James. “But I think Japanese cars as a whole will be strong with cars like the Nissan 350Z and large, capable saloon cars like the big Lexus and Honda models being appreciated by late millennials and Generation Z.”
Indeed, the changing demographic of buyers is logically accompanied by a change in the cars purchased. “Although there are always exceptions to every rule, there does seem to be a trend that as the next generation of enthusiasts comes of age, so does their interest in the cars of their youth – perhaps they have fond memories of them through film or TV, or they were previously out of reach financially,” Guy Snelling of Anglia Car Auctions told Classics World.
Similarly, Keith Murray of Morris Leslie has also noticed an increase in younger enthusiasts buying classics. “There has been a definite trend in the last 12 months which has been evidenced by a shift in the era of cars attracting interest. I can see this section of the market being the one to watch in the coming years.”
So where does this leave older classics? We reckon the shift in market trends could offer a great opportunity to get into a more traditional classic at a more affordable price, which is view shared by James at WB and Sons ahead of 2022. “I think the very attractive 60s British cars will bounce back,” he explained. “E-types, Triumphs, MGs and others all took a dip this year, but 35-45 year olds are turning to the romance of a 60s British sports car.”
To emphasise the diversity and breadth of the market, Edward Bridger-Stille of Historics believes there will be a bounce back at the top end of the market, too. “I think the time has arrived for the investment quality 1980s ‘supercars’ to make a welcome re-emergence – models such as the Bugatti EB110, Ferrari F40 and the Aston Martin Vantage Le Mans. These are all super-cool and currently tend to get traded below the radar.”
Of course, even the experts don’t get everything right. As proof, Hagerty revisited its 2020 UK Bull Market list, discovering that five had increased in value as predicted, while two had remained unchanged and three have lost value. Cars like the Renault 5 GT Turbo and Mk1 Ford Focus posted modest rises, but it was the traditional Mk1 Mini Cooper and Jaguar Mk2 that showed the biggest increases, which is perhaps at odds with common wisdom and shows that predicting the next big thing is hardly an exact science.
But that’s surely part of the fun. While classic cars can prove to be very astute investments and there is satisfaction in being proved correct, a view widely shared amongst the experts is that enthusiasts should buy cars for their enjoyment value ahead of any financial speculation. If a car should happen to rise in value, then that’s a bonus.