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It’s the most depressing year in modern history but it’s become a boom time for classic cars as pent up, and locked down, enthusiasts push up prices of collectable Holdens, HSVs and blue-chip Europeans.
Auctions have cleared up to 97 per cent of cars offered for sale, and prices of early performance cars such as the Holden Torana A9X have doubled in five years.
It took just one virus to shake out more classic car buyers from the tree than most preceding years, with huge demand and strong prices across Australian auction and sales yards.
High-profile classic car and collectables auction house, Shannons, told CarsGuide that the best news is that it’s likely to extend into the new year.
Shannons national auction manager Christophe Boribon said COVID-19 and the inability to spend on holidays turned a lot of attention to purchases of desirable products, including new, used – and for many – classic cars.
“For some, COVID has been a realisation that people won’t be going on an overseas holiday for another two or three years and they are in a position where they don’t have to put off selective and personal purchases,” he said.
“It has led to a huge increase in demand for classic cars, motorcycles and memorabilia. The interest has been the same as with the position with caravans, boats and bicycles – they’re selling out.
“Our auction results reflect that by being very, very strong through this year.
“Our sales results are 95-97 per cent at the online auctions which is an excellent result. Buyers obviously have no issue with using online auctions.”
Mr Boribon said demand was “across the board” with most brands getting attention from buyers.
“Anything with pedigree and providence is selling very quickly. Some of the blue-chip Europeans are getting strong money,” he said.
He said that the “1990s and 2000s Holdens and HSVs are coming into their own now”.
“These later models have really taken off this year. We have seen extraordinary interest in Toranas, such as the A9X.
“I have seen a couple of the A9X hatches change hands for the $400,000 to $450,000 mark. Five years ago, these were going for $200,000 to $250,000.”
An MG Car Club official also said there had been a surge in interest in MGs this year, especially the MGA, though earlier TCs and TDs were selling quickly and good, available units were becoming rare.
They said as an example, the prices of the MGA, made from 1955 to 1962 and the model preceding the MGB, were almost double that of 10 years ago and were twice as expensive as the later MGB.
Good MGA examples now sell for $40,000 to $100,000.
The spokesperson said that the older TD from the early 1950s have the traditional MG shape that many enthusiasts demand. This model sells for $30,000 to $45,000 with good interest.
Other brands have been equally successful in getting top dollar. Shannons in November sold a Mini Moke California for $39,500, while five years earlier, a similar car went for $13,500.
It’s not only cars. Number plates have attracted huge interest and prices sometimes appear ridiculous.
Shannons’ November auction saw a heritage plate with the number ‘477’ sell for an incredible $152,000. In 2015, a similar plate from Victoria with the number ‘408’ – numerically lower so regarded as being more valuable – sold for $62,000.
Although wearing such an expensive plate in public could be foolhardy, it shows the demand for automotive memorabilia and the investment potential.
Shannons also sold a metal pedal car based on an Austin J40 convertible shape, in good but not pristine condition, for $5300.
CarsGuide asked Mr Boribon what cars were worth buying as an investment, but he was coy on the answer.
However, he reaffirmed that Holdens and HSVs would remain popular, and said collectors and enthusiasts should also consider motorcycles, which have also seen a big price rise based on demand.
“The bonus is that you can fit four or five motorcycles in a garage in the same space as one car,” he said.