Whether cars are a great investment in a strong economy isn’t apparent. Their value rose more than 300 percent from 2008 to 2015, according to the Historic Automobile Group International. By comparison, the S&P 500 rose 40 percent in that same period. But over the past four years, they have risen a comparatively modest 85 percent, with Ferrari leading that growth, while the S&P 500 rose 22 percent.
“When housing and everything crashed in 2008, there were still wealthy people, so they bought alternative assets and they bought cars,” said Stu Carpenter, founder of Copley Motorcars and a leading expert on Ferraris and Land Rovers. “More collectors came into the market and drove up prices, and then more cars came into the market. Supply and demand fed off each other until 2015, when most things peaked.”
The response in the last recession surprised even the experts, said David Gooding, president of Gooding & Company, a leading auto auction house.
“We didn’t see it coming, but in retrospect, it does make sense,” he said. “While there was so much uncertainty in traditional markets, there was a flight toward tangible things people could wrap their minds around.”
He cautions against thinking it will happen again: “Does it mean it will always be the case? No. The car market will continue to have some peaks and valleys.”
After recent auctions in Pebble Beach, Calif., and Scottsdale, Ariz., experts said cars were fairly valued, even though that meant some cars, even Ferraris, sold for less than they would have a few years ago. But both Mr. Gooding and Mr. Carpenter said that sellers were going to have to be realistic about a car’s price and quality.
Keeping a car in top shape is not an inexpensive proposition.
Vinnie Pacifico, who made his money in food service, said he cherished his 1963 Corvette with a split window and enjoyed driving it. But to satiate his appetite for speed, he prefers driving a 2017 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera.