The world of classic car investing is a wild place. There are new stories emerging each year revolving around the large heaps of money that are being paid for classic cars. And the cherry on top is the fact that the most expensive vehicle sold to date is a classic car ( a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO). Naturally the idea that a vehicle could one day be worth much more than its current value has attracted a lot of eager investors. So if you’re looking to grab a piece of that pie and you have a mechanics grip on vehicles, then flipping classic cars could be an avenue you want to explore. In this blog we answer the question “are project classic cars profitable?” in as much of an unbiased way as possible.
Are project classic cars profitable?
Project classic cars can be a highly profitable avenue if done correctly. But more often than not they aren’t that profitable. Some vehicle’s will rake in incredible ROIs while others will just about break even. Purchasing a classic car that is already in good condition as opposed to embarking on a project classic car is the more convenient and assured way of securing a profitable classic car investment.
Choosing the right project classic car at the get go and maintaining it the right way comprises 90% of whether the vehicle will prove profitable.
Blue chip vehicles are the most assured way of scoring a highly profitable flip. But be warned that for these kinds of vehicles to even be considered by prospects for ridiculously high amounts they need to have been maintained by highly specialized and authorized mechanics of which there are only a few worldwide. These kinds of fixes often come with documentation and certifications. This makes project blue chip classic vehicles a highly costly but infinitely more profitable classic project car venture.
More factors that affect the profitability of project classic cars
We’ve already listed the most important determinants of the profitability of a project car. In this section we will dissect those facts further and delve into a few more.
The difficulty of finding parts and their cost
Project classic car parts are hard to come by. But when you add vehicle rarity and high maintenance costs to a vehicle that isn’t going to fetch that much or isn’t guaranteed to bring in big figures, then you are at the risk of not even breaking even.
It is often the case that the brand of the classic project car is no longer in existence. In other instances, the parts for a unique car were produced in small numbers from the get go. Classic car parts are rare to begin with which can drive up costs, don’t waste your time and effort on a risky venture if you are not sure that the vehicle will be worth the trouble.
The time of the purchase and sale
The value of classic cars fluctuates. Ideally you want to purchase your vehicle at a time where prices are down, and then sell it at a time where prices are high. But keep in mind that holding on to a classic car could be costly (due to maintenance) so make sure you factor that into your calculations. It’s also worth noting that the longer you wait the more likely it is that the price of your vehicle will increase.
The kind of fix you will carry out
Is it going to be a DIY fix or are you going to have to rely on a third party? The more costs you incur the smaller your profit margins will be. Although it would be ideal to do everything on your own and keep operational costs down, some vehicles just won’t sell if they don’t have the credentials of a professional like those mentioned above.
Furthermore you can’t take your classic car to just any mechanic even if you do have the right parts. Most of today’s mechanics rely on OBD scanners to pinpoint the issue with a car, and even though there are OBD scanners that date back to 1968 it’s not usually that simple. Unfortunately only a few mechanics know their way around these beautiful machines.
This can be as specific as proof that the vehicle was at one point owned by a high profile figure, to proof of expertly handled maintenance. This kind of paperwork will skyrocket the price of your classic car.
Is there money to be made in classic cars?
There is a lot of money to be made in classic cars. Once again, the most expensive car to date is a classic car. With more cars being added to the ranks of classic cars yearly, there is so much promise and money-earning potential in this market.
What makes a car a future classic?
There are many formulas for deciding what will make a car a future classic. The best one is as follows: 1) The car’s reputation and fanbase, 2) its exclusivity, and 3) historic value. Find a car with all three of these characteristics and you will increase your odds of securing a high value future classic car.
Investopedia claims that cars that teenagers had pictures of on their walls back in the day will likely be a good classic car to purchase today. If we translate that to today’s terms then it becomes vehicles that teenagers and hobbyists have saved on their devices wallpapers. Or perhaps the cars that are popularly used in racing video games. This formula works because it taps into the untamed power of nostalgia. Any good classic car owner will tell you the value than nostalgia plays when it comes to classic cars.
How big is the classic car industry?
The classic car industry is expected to reach $4.34 billion internationally by 2024. Most of this growth is expected to be concentrated in Europe and America. In terms of numbers, there are more than six million classic cars worldwide as of 2023.
In conclusion the classic cars market is akin to the art pieces market. Rare pieces will fetch a huge price tag but there aren’t any concrete rules that determine value as these things are mostly speculative.
Project cars are a risky avenue because there’s just so much that can go wrong. If we are to look into the case of the most successful classic car sale (the 1963 Ferrari mentioned above), it was one that was in near perfect condition.
On the other hand you have project cars which are usually bought at a bargain and then fixed in hopes of adding to the cars value. Experts will tell you that margins of projects like these aren’t that high and that these kinds of projects should be undertaken by passionate hobbyists who enjoy the journey and getting their hands oily. This is because if the car proves to be unprofitable then at least you haven’t labored for nothing.
But it’s also worth pointing out that due diligence and accurate research can make all the difference in finding a classic car project that will shoot you into the stars. So in summary, if you are a beginner, it would be best to shy away from this kind of project, but if you’re a heavy weight, then by all means.
Now that you have the answer to the question “are project classic cars profitable?”, you likely want to know how hard it is to sell a classic car. Click on the previous link to learn more about that.