FIFI PETERS: If you are a classic car fanatic you were probably at the biggest Vintage and Classic Auction that took place this weekend in Johannesburg. The bidding wars, I’m told, were crazy, with the most expensive car being sold for R1.1 million.
Here to tell us more about the action that took place is Joff van Reenen, the director and lead auctioneer at High Street Auctions. Joff, thanks so much for your time. What car was sold for over a bar, and who bought it?
JOFF VAN REENEN: You make us sound like we’re all crazy. I think we must be. It was a crazy day. It was an absolutely crazy day. The record was broken by a very, very rare Alfa GTV 6 three-litre, of which I think at the moment only about 75 are known to exist.
FIFI PETERS: Very rare – and very ugly in my humble opinion. But I don’t know value when it comes to classic cars. I imagine that just the small supplier of this particular car, the Alfa, what, GT–?
JOFF VAN REENEN: The GTV.
FIFI PETERS: It’s the small supply that made it go for so much, given that I see that the starting bid was R200 000.
JOFF VAN REENEN: The bidding went a little crazy. I think it’s also because they were only made with a three-litre engine in South Africa, because our crazy forefathers and probably some of our parents loved to race them. Now they are extremely collectable because you just cannot find them.
FIFI PETERS: Wow. What were some of the other popular and most valued vehicles that were bought and sold this past weekend?
JOFF VAN REENEN: The most popular were the rare South African V8 muscle-breed cars – Capri Corona, which is the only Capri in the world where Ford allowed our parents to put in a V8 Mustang engine; then the Ford Fairmont GT, also with a V8 Mustang engine. These cars are extremely popular overseas, not only because of their power, but because everything they entered when they raced in the seventies and eighties won. Now, once again, you just cannot find them anymore.
FIFI PETERS: And going for R780 000 to around R900 000. Wow.
JOFF VAN REENEN: We had bidders coming in from probably just over 12 countries – from Australia, New Zealand, all across South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia. There was even bidding from Indonesia, Somalia, England and Germany. It was crazy.
FIFI PETERS: I see that this year’s auction smashed last year’s record – any particular reason why?
JOFF VAN REENEN: People get very emotional about cars, especially if your dad used to drive you around in the back seat of one and you have very, very fond memories. People grow up with good memories and cars elicit those memories. It’s a very, very good investment. For the average car – if you speak to Creative Rides, where we had the auction – they’re telling us of between a 300% and a 500% return on your collector car every 10 years; and not only do you get to enjoy them, but you get to drive them around with the family as well.
FIFI PETERS: That’s quite a big return.
JOFF VAN REENEN: It’s a great investment.
FIFI PETERS: My opinion on what the car looks like is valid if you look at the return that it actually gives you.
JOFF VAN REENEN: That is also true. We had 106 on auction from the classic to the insane, as they would call it. Some of the cars I passed on auction would probably kill you if you had to put your foot flat in them. As for some of the others, like the old sixties and fifties Impalas, you could probably fit about eight people in those two-seater cars and just gently cruise down the road. There was something for everybody.
FIFI PETERS: Do you think that in a twisted way Covid-19 also helped demand for these cars, given the fact that with the travel restrictions and also restrictions on all forms of shopping at one stage, you had people sitting with a lot of money that they could afford to splurge and go crazy on [something] like this auction.
JOFF VAN REENEN: I completely agree with you. People have been cooped up for too long and a lot of them now just want to spend their money, whether it’s putting it into gold or classic cars or buying dollars or buying shares on the JSE. Why buy shares on the JSE when you can drive a classic car around while she appreciates in value? It’s a no brainer, and you get to have a lot of fun with it. It’s a very emotional thing for people. It’s a really, really a good investment.
We are already seeing for cars that we put on the block last year – where we auctioned off 140 cars from the same collection – people are already putting them back on the market for more and getting those prices.
So I think from an investment point of view and from people being cooped up inside, a lot of people want to spend their money now, and if they can still spend in their country and have assets in the country, why not?
It was interesting to see that quite a few of our local bidders outbid overseas bids, where the rand exchange rate is much, much stronger. A lot of the top cars, for instance the Alfa Romeo, will be staying in the country.
FIFI PETERS: Incredible. Joff, we’ll leave it there. I feel like I can no longer afford to have this conversation – this is serious money being spoken about. That was Joff van Reenen, director and lead auctioneer at High Street Auctions.