This article was originally published on Christies International Real Estates blog Luxury Defined


David Gooding, President of Gooding & Company, gives his eight simple steps to purchasing and owning a high-end classic motor car.


As with fine art and wine, the market in collector cars is thriving. And while that may be enough of an enticement to head off to the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach this August with chequebook in hand, much care must still be taken when choosing the perfect classic automobile. David Gooding—president of Gooding & Company, which runs the major auction at Pebble Beach—offers directions on taking the right road to high-end classic car ownership.


  1. Listen to your heart
    I always tell anyone entering the collector car hobby that they should just buy what they love. Always buy the best example you can find and afford. You will never be disappointed, regardless of what the price is. Try to ignore all these data sets telling you where your particular collector car is in terms of price. If you bought an exceptional example, you most likely will only gain value over the next 10 years.



Holding the record for most expensive car sold at auction, the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione went for $18.15 million at Pebble Beach in 2016. Photo: Getty.The most valuable car we sold at auction was a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione, which went for $18.15 million in 2016 at Pebble Beach. Many Ferrari aficionados consider this Ferrari among the most desirable California Spiders ever built. When it is something truly special like this car, which was a record for an LWB (long-wheelbase) California Spider, it most certainly represents great value, as it is one of the greatest Ferraris of all time.



  1. Don’t worry about your investment
    Many collectors had their fingers burned in the classic car “crash” of the early 1990s, when the global recession caused the prices of exotic cars to go into freefall. Anything can happen, but I don’t think there is any reason to expect a repeat of this. I think the perfect example of a car with a great story will always do well at auction. Other markets, such as modern art, have followed similar trends. Buyers are looking for a significant car, a car that had limited production numbers or important race history—like the Ferrari California Spider we sold in 2016. Cars such as these, again, are only likely to gain in value over the next decade.




Christies International Real Estate is a sponsor of the annual Concours dElegance at Pebble Beach, California where collectors from all over the world converge to show their cars. This year it will be held on August 26. Photo: Getty.


  1. It’s not just about Ferraris
    I feel buyers are looking for cars that represent good value. For example, maybe they can’t afford a 1960s Ferrari, so they look to another great 1960s car from a different marque, such as Alfa Romeo, Osca or Lamborghini, that meets a lot of their specific criteria. Much of the buyer’s criteria today is driven by all of the events surrounding the car collector calendar—for example, Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach, of which Christie’s International Real Estate is a sponsor, Monterey Car Week in California, the Villa d’Este Concours show in Italy, and so on. So, if you can find a Lamborghini 350 GT that is $700,000 to $1 million cheaper than, say, a Ferrari 275 GTB, the Lamborghini is still eligible for many of the same events as the Ferrari, so it represents a good buy for the collector. And it doesn’t always have to be about Italian cars. You can never go wrong with a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing or Roadster.



The Lamborghini 350 GT was produced between 1964 and 1966 and may be up to $1 million cheaper than a Ferrari 275 GTB, while still being admissible for some of the same events. Photo: Alamy.


  1. Research, research, research
    Spend time amassing as much knowledge as you can on the specific model you’re after. Take your time, find the best example, speak to experts, and if you don’t know of a specialist within the marque or model you are looking for, contact Gooding & Companyfor advice. A second opinion from a knowledgeable, unbiased source is never a bad thing.




Hollywood film star Steve McQueen was often photographed in his Ferrari Lusso. Buying a car with a celebrity connection or from a well-regarded collection may add to its value. Photo: Alamy.


  1. Look for provenance
    Provenance is extremely important with regard to a car’s value, but it has much more of an effect for older cars. Knowing that your potential purchase came from an esteemed collection or someone who is an excellent steward truly adds real dollars to a car’s price. Celebrity provenance is hard to quantify but can be a factor if that individual is seen as a highly regarded collector or has significant motorsport history. To give an example, Steve McQueen’s Ferrari Lusso was part of his image, and there are numerous photos of him with that car. But other cars he owned, which are not seen as part of McQueen’s story or image, would certainly not be as valuable as his Lusso.



  1. Original is best
    A car does not have to be fully restored to be valuable. In fact, we are seeing highly original cars bring a premium over restored examples. It truly depends on what you want. I love a beautifully restored car but, personally, it is the highly original cars that speak to me the most. When looking at the restoration, there are a lot of factors to consider and there is not one catch-all rule to follow. If you buy a car that’s in need of work, certainly make a point of seeking out the restorers who are well-known for that specific model.


The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing. Classic cars should be garaged in suitably dry conditions and regularly driven to prevent deterioration. Photo: Alamy.


  1. Storage is important
    Always keep your classic in a dry and airy storage facility. Your main enemy when storing an older car is damp, so make sure to avoid this at all costsEnsure that the car is cleaned thoroughly after every use and is completely dry before being put away. Leave the windows slightly open so that air can circulate around the interior. If you’re planning to store the car for a while—for example over the winter months—have the tires pumped up a little over the normal recommended level. This can prevent tire deterioration if the pressures are too low. Finally, ensure that the car is started and driven for around 15 minutes every couple of weeks. This keeps the battery charged and the engine properly lubricated.




A grey Mercedes-Benz SL Gullwing takes to the road. Driving your pride and joy is one of the great attractions of collecting classic cars. Photo: Getty.


  1. Cars are meant to be driven
    You should absolutely get out and enjoy your car. This is what makes car collecting so special—you can actually take out your investment and enjoy it with millions of enthusiasts just like you. It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of these cars need to be driven regularly to run properly. There’s obviously a difference between a daily driver and a collector car you take out on occasion, but it certainly won’t hurt your car’s value by putting a few miles on it. Even if it is a $20m Ferrari.

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