Vintage Cars: Are they Worth the Investment?

Maybe it’s that red Porsche from 16 Candles. Or maybe it’s the little Alfa Romeo convertible Dustin Hoffman drove in The Graduate. The Ferrari 308 from Magnum P.I.?

Everybody’s got that car from a movie or a television show. A car that was beautiful and perfect and seemed so out of reach.

Well, good news: now’s the time to buy your vintage dream car. The concept of an investment piece is familiar: an object that ages gracefully, something to cherish, something to pass along to a son or daughter. Usually such things are very small. You keep them in a jewellery box, maybe in a safe. A diamond ring from Boucheron, pearl Cartier earrings, a Louis Vuitton Speedy bag. But certain cars from the ’60s, ’70s, and now even ’80s are becoming collectible.

Unlike most valuable heirlooms, the right vintage cars come with some definite perks. You could spend a week driving the Pacific Coast Highway or through the Canadian Rockies.

The market for classic cars exploded in the early half of this decade. According to Hagerty—a classic car insurance company that keeps track of these things—notes the price of vintage Ferraris rose 70 per cent in that time. Post-2008 market crash, a vintage car suddenly seemed like a safe place to put money.

In 2014, the world took notice when an old Ferrari sold at an auction in Monterey for a hammer price of $34,650,000 (plus another $4-ish million for the buyer’s premium). The car in question was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO.

A large price to pay for a car, yes, but a very reasonable price to pay for a genuine work of art by one of the masters. Certainly, a GTO is more affordable than a Modigliani.

Of course, this is an extreme example. The red Porsche 944 from 16 Candles? That car could be yours for around $20,000. Good news: the car has aged just as nicely as the film.

The Graduate’s Alfa Romeo? It’s around $15,000. Not a lot of money to pay for a genuine design icon. And Thomas Magnum of Magnum P.I. could only get about $70,000 for his old Ferrari 308 if he sold it today.

Buying a vintage car comes with a few caveats: don’t expect it to start every time, the air conditioning probably won’t work, it’ll spend more time in the garage than you’d like it to, and you’re not going to be able to Bluetooth your phone to listen to a podcast.

But, treat your classic right, keep it in a shop, don’t use it to run errands everyday, don’t slack when it comes to maintenance, and it might just be worth your while. If you decide to sell it down the road, you may get your money back—or even make a profit. Like the stock market, the vintage car market is impossible to accurately predict, but the prices of certain rare and semi-rare ’70s and ’80s cars are on the rise these days—maybe because you’re not the only one who fancies themselves in The Graduate’s Alfa Romeo.

So, while ownership of a vintage vehicle requires more storage space and upkeep, a pair of vintage pearl earrings simply won’t provide the same calibre of adventure. It’s certainly an investment worth considering—and one your progeny will likely appreciate.