Dreaming of owning a Ferrari: Nostalgia drives classic car buyers to dig deep

Classic car enthusiasts found garage space for more collectibles on wheels at a Webb’s auction today, with buyers forking out some big dollars for the model of their dreams. Bidding was robust for sought-after models and Webb’s head of collectors’ cars Caolán McAleer expects cars that did not quite reach reserve will sell under negotiation.

Among those passed in was a 1982 Ferrari BB512i, one of only 42 examples made in right-hand drive. With only 30,800 miles (49,567km) on the clock, the Ferrari still has its original Rosso corsa paint and tan interior in mint condition. Bidding rose to $450,000 after an Australian bidder kicked off at $400,000 but didn’t reach the reserve. However it is expected to sell under negotiation.

A left-hand-drive 1998 Ferrari 550 Maranello sold for $206,100 and a 1973 Porsche 911S Targa 2.4S sold for $357,776. Endorsed by Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans more than 50 years ago, Targa values have steadily risen in value, particularly the rarer right-hand-drive models. McQueen drove a Porsche 911 in the opening scene of the iconic Hollywood movie Le Mans, fell in love with the car and took it back to the US where it is still owned and driven by his son Chad.

A restored and modified 991 Porsche 911 964, known as a “backdate” or “restomod”, was the result of a three-year labour of love by the owner. It sold for $267,3000.
An impeccably restored 1960 Jaguar XK150 3.8S sold for $306,625. The car was restored in the UK in 2017 by the New Zealand owner and brought to Auckland in 2018 where it went on display at the Ellerslie Car show.

Most classic cars have a back story but top prize in this auction went to the 1968 Chevrolet Impala fastback which sold for $72,765. The Impala was sold to the New Zealand owner by a Washington property developer who had bought a large piece of land with an old, condemned house on it. No-one had been inside the house since 1989 when the owners passed away. Before demolition, the now-adult children wanted to farewell their old family home.

There in the basement they discovered the Impala, bought by their mother Evelyn in 1968. She only ever used the car for errands – her husband wasn’t fond of it – and the factory-installed rear seat plastic was never removed. The rare Chevrolet vanity mirror AM radio still works and the car comes with the original title issued to Evelyn.

Also for sale was a 1982 Subaru Leone 4WD 18.RX, driven by rally car legend Possum Bourne in the 1983 Rally of New Zealand. It’s pre-auction estimate was between $90,000 and $120,000 but is now subject to sale having been passed in at $80,000. Bourne died in 2003 after a head-on car accident on a public road while checking out the course of the Race to the Sky hillclimb in the Cardrona Valley.

The auction threw up some quirky entries too. A 1962 Vespa 50S, restored after the owner bought a box of scooter parts from a friend, sold for $11,638. The owner displayed the scooter in his home so consequently the odometer showed only 37km.

A 1986 Citroen 2CV Charleston, with its slide-back roof, sold for $44,965. The 2CV Citroens date back to production in 1949 and this one was bought new in Palmerston North.

Becoming popular too are drive cars from the past. A 1977 three-door Honda Civic, still with its original “bold as brass” paintwork, sold for $19,176 and a restored three-door 1977 Range Rover Classic sold for $42,446. An electric blue 1956 Ford F100, complete with a Momo vintage series steering wheel and twin side exhaust pipes, was passed in at $80,000.

McAleer said the enthusiasm for collecting classic cars had gone from strength to strength in the past two years, with vehicles from the 60, 70s and 80s eras particularly popular. McAleer knows his buyers.

“They’re chasing the nostalgia of their youth. They’ve got pockets deep enough now to pay for the things they’ve hankered after for a long time. They own multiple models and regularly change their cars.”

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