Vehicles: How could this possibly be an investment?

By definition, it is a depreciable asset – but can the right one make you money?
Rarity will determine whether you have an investable asset on your hands. Image: Jean-Francois Monier/AFP/Getty Images

When you think about a vehicle, the first thought isn’t always that it is a smart purchase. Probably because, by definition, a vehicle is a depreciable asset. This means the vehicle’s future value will be lower than what you pay for it today. So how could this possibly be an asset class worth looking into as an investment case?

I recently spent more time reflecting on the classic car conversation I had with Andrew Amoils, and it made me realise that there’s a lot on offer in the automotive space if you know what you’re looking for. Companies like Prestige Marques have built their businesses on helping clients find what they are looking for.


Read: Classic cars: Are they a good investment?

Ask a South African about a Golf VR6 or a BMW E30, and you could easily hit a nerve. There’s a memory of one or a desire to own one engrained in most car enthusiasts. And the reality is that a mint-condition version of either of these could easily go for R1 million.

For a 1960 Ferrari GTO to be sold for $40 million (about R771.73 million) on auction means one of three things, in order of increasing likelihood …

First, the buyer is a rich, spoilt individual who doesn’t understand the value of money.

Second, an investor somewhere in the world is missing this exact model from their ridiculous collection and is willing to pay any amount to complete the collection.

The last and most probable option is that someone knows there are a finite number of these vehicles in existence today and that the vehicle’s value is likely to increase based on what the historical ownership data suggests.

A word of caution, though, not every vehicle falls into the category of an investable asset.

Don’t have the same expectations of a regular Hilux or a Picanto, which are mass-produced to meet consumer demand.

What makes a vehicle special then?

And how do you know which versions of which models are collectables? Rarity and effort are undoubtedly the difference makers here, especially if words like “all original parts” appear in the description of the vehicle.

Read: Stop kidding yourself. A classic car is (almost) never a good investment

My father once rebuilt a VW beetle. It felt like the most in-demand Herbie in South Africa by the time he parted with it. Everything from the chrome exhausts to the hubcaps were original VW parts. And when he finished it off with a coat of powder blue paint, it went from being a pet project to something that received daily offers.


I’m not suggesting we all restore classic cars to realise a decent return; there are definitely easier ways to do it for those who don’t feel as comfortable around a socket and wrench.

So, how do you access this investment?

The convenient solution is to further explore the merits of tokenisation of real-world assets as we’ve been able to achieve with whiskey. Until that becomes more widely used, though, you could always explore the option of joint ownership with a group of like-minded investors if the price tag warrants it.

And for the truly efficient ones still reading, who believe in working smart, not hard, there are platforms like FindersFee that pay you for simply finding a rare vehicle that an investor is searching for and putting buyer and seller in touch with each other.

There is zero capital investment in the last one, just a little time spent on Google.

Food for thought: before you decide on the best option for yourself, consider that you may be just an enthusiast, not necessarily an investor, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

And if you are an investor, are you thinking about your carbon footprint with each purchase? Or is the emotional joy brought on by acquiring the rare car enough to sleep peacefully at night knowing you’re living life to the fullest?

Read: Should I invest in a classic car?



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A BMW E30 owner rarely leaves the house without soliciting some form of an offer for his or her car (mostly through the prospective bidder shouting “how much?” somewhere in traffic).

An original well-kept 325iS will sell for a staggering amount. The 333i (only produced in SA and in global demand) is priceless.

My first car was an ’88 E30 325i, in absolute mint condition, bought off my dad when he upgraded. Only ever did about 8,000kms a year.

Rebuilt it after 4 years, after getting smashed into by a drunk driver – from then on, she was known as Phoenix. Even after I bought my next Beemer (free indicator classes included) I kept her as a backup and weekend driver, I just loved her that much.

Lent her to a friend who lost his car, and within 45 minutes, he’d written her off, T-boned beyond saving…

At the time – 2008ish – insurance valued the car at R25,000. But when the first offer I got for her as scrap was north of R15,000 (as her engine was still immaculate) I should have known I was onto something good. Too young and naive, though, I let her go, and now, worse versions go for R100k+ all day long…

I suspect your “friend” is a friend no more lol!

BMW 333i recently sold for R1.225 million.

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