I started MTSV back in late 2005, after being made redundant from my job of twenty odd years in the cycle industry. It was a choice, not purely driven by the desire just to make money (obviously I have to make some, as I have to live and support my family) but also because I just love old cars, and wanted to be a part of preserving our motoring history, as well as having the opportunity to own and drive cars I'd previously only dreamt about. Now, in 2020, some 15 years on, I've seen great change in the classic car market, with many cars becoming not just vehicles for car enthusiasts to own and enjoy, but many have now sadly become vehicles purely for making money, otherwise known as an investment. This is all very good, and great if you own a vehicle whose value curve is rising exponentially, but the net effect on the market hasn't been entirely positive in my opinion; the reasons why are listed below.
When investors become involved in any market, prices are invariably pushed upwards, and many genuine would-be owners will now never be able to afford to own that car they aspired to as a child, or even see the car they lusted after, as many just get hidden away. I count myself very lucky, as I worked my way through my bucket list of cars just before "investors" became interested in the classic car market, my only, somewhat selfish (and slightly hypocritical) regret is that I didn't hold onto some of those great cars I enjoyed in those early years e.g BMW M Cars, Porsche 911, TVR's, Peugeot 205 GTI, Escort Mk.1, Capris, G-Wagen, Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo, Evos etc, etc.
Inevitably, where there's money to be made, people will jump on the band wagon, many of them with little or no experience, or even interest in older cars, and are solely attracted by the possibility of making a "quick buck". They generally have no regard for the cars they're selling, and as a result do very little to improve them, seeing them purely as a commodity. They have no motivation to improve a vehicle as they don't want to erode their precious profit margin. This obviously isn't great for buyers, and means that many classics are now just being passed around like the proverbial "hot potato".
Another group that have also entered the classic market are some of the "big players" in the automotive market, who've also seem to have decided they wouldn't mind a slice of the action too. However they seem to have applied "main dealer logic" to selling classics, which just doesn't work in my opinion. Even if you can get staff knowledgeable and committed enough, you simply can't sell unique cars in volume! (the clue is in the parody!).
"CHARLATANS" (for want of a better word)
Worse than any of the above, are the increasing number of outright charlatans out there, who simply tell lies about the cars they're selling, and who misguidedly think just because a car is old, then its automatically worth lots of money, regardless of its condition. eBay seem to be full of them; experience has taught me that if a listing starts with the words "here we have" followed by liberal usage of the words "Barn Find" , then move on quickly!. However, despite this, what surprises me even more, is the amount of buyers taken in by these people, and the sums of money unsuspecting buyers are prepared to part with for what is essentially a pile of scrap. I'm also still perplexed that very few people, whoever they buy from, don't get down on their knees, and look at the underside of the car they intend to buy, which is, in many cases, older than they are.
Many will have noticed that there's also been a recent rapid rise in the number of classic car auctions springing up, here there and everywhere. Their tactics seem to be that they'll advertise their lots with very low estimated prices, just to get potential bidders through their doors, in the hope that they'll all suffer a bout of "auction fever" and pay far more than a car in worth, in the false belief they're getting a bargain, just because they've bought at auction!. My personal view has always been is that auction houses do have their place, but unless a car is super rare, very unique or has a celebrity connection, then it's generally only in the auction for one reason, and it's usually a tell tale sign that many of these cars have been passed around between the different auction houses like hot potatoes. A quick Google of the registration number generally confirms this. Buying at auction can be a risky business as you have virtually no come back, and once that hammer comes down, you own that car once you've paid the asking price, buyers premium and VAT; its usually then you'll realise you've paid over the odds. It's not much better for the seller either; they too have to pay their fees and VAT, so in the end, it's usually the auction house that comes out best!.
Obviously the above are only my opinions, derived from my now many years in the Classic Car Game, and which I'm sure many may disagree with. However when I first started out, this really was essentially a "Cottage Type" Industry run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. It's now a multi-million pound business, strewn with potential pitfalls for the unsuspecting buyers....is that progress?, well yes, but is it for the best? I'm not sure. What does give me hope for the future is there's still a core of genuine enthusiasts out there, who like me, are in this for the genuine love of the cars.