Philip Kantor, who is in charge of Bonhams’s European motorcars, has this brief essay trying to explain the dual nature of a classic car’s value. What he limns here is equally valid for art and worth working through as a general guide to what makes a “tangible asset” both uniquely valuable but also a form of currency.
In the wake of the UK’s Brexit referendum, the currency issue is good place to begin. In short, a tangible asset is something that is easily and readily convertible into another currency. That means the object you hold can be bought for pounds and sold for Euros or dollars without regard to the overall economic climate:
Currency values are constantly changing, so if you have a car that appeals to a truly international audience, you can sell to the strongest market – meaning you are not fixed on a specific currency.
That the tangible asset is a currency in and of itself is demonstrated by the way in which ownership of the asset confers privileges:
Obviously collectors do consider re-sale potential, but a car’s increase in value is regarded as a by-product, albeit a beneficial one, of the passion for the product. Collectors want stability and with stability comes confidence to sell and to buy – which is the situation we find ourselves in. Certain periods, types and marques have shown good growth. For example, we’ve witnessed cars that provide ‘entry tickets’ to the best historic events grow in demand, and therefore value.
What makes classic cars the perfect investment? (Square Mile)