Advice from the experts on buying... and dying
By Larry Edsall
The annual panel discussion at the Russo and Steele classic car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, is both entertaining and informative.
Consider the following, shared by panelist Randy Fox, founder of InKnowVision, which develops estate planning strategies for wealthy clients:
Fox said he asked a client what he wanted to have happen to his car collection after his death.
"My greatest fear," the client responded, "is that my wife is going to sell my cars for what I told her I paid for them."
In an arena filled by primarily male car collectors, the laughter was loud, but knowing and even pained. Like a former employer of mine -- who told his wife the hot rod he was building would cost $50,000 when he knew the actual cost would be three times that amount -- guys sometimes put two or three times the amount of money into a car purchase or restoration project than they're willing -- or brave enough -- to admit to their wives.
At one point during the discussion, one of the panelists had a question for the crowd:
"How many of you have more than one classic car?"
At least half of the audience raised a hand.
"How many of you have more than five?" came the followup question.
Only a few hands lowered.
"How many of you want more garage space?"
Pretty much every hand in the place went up.
As much as car collectors cherish the cars, trucks and motorcycles in their garages, many know -- and the panel reminded them several times -- they're merely custodians of vehicles that often have historic and always carry emotional significance to those who see them or even temporarily own them.
There was a lot of talk about passing on that passion to the next generation, and that while classic cars tend to increase in value, they should be bought for the pleasure they bring, not for their potential as investments.
"Buy what you enjoy," moderator, auto restorer and broadcaster Wayne Carini told the audience.
"Your passion will be contagious -- and that will help their value," added Corky Coker, whose family-owned company produces specialty tires for classic cars.
Speaking of value, the panelists were asked what they see as affordable buys in the current classic car auction market that have growth potential a few years down the road. After a warning about buying in a bubble economy from publisher Robert Ross -- who cited not only the Ferrari bubble of the late 1980s but the Dutch tulip bulb market of 1630 -- their list included early Dodge Vipers and early Lamborghinis (Miuras, Jaramas, Espadas), original Volkswagen Beetles and first-year GTIs, 1950 pickup trucks and station wagons, the late-model air-cooled Porsches, BMW E30 M3s and 2002s, Datsun 510s, classic motorcycles, and vintage travel trailers to pull behind your vintage car or truck.
Asked what to sell right now, few panelists had an answer.
"Why sell anything?" was the response from classic car insurer McKeel Hagerty.
Perhaps Fox put it best:
"Buy what you love," he said. "Hold what you still love. Sell what you don't love anymore."
Click here for event calendar.
Click here for more articles by Larry Edsall.