Market Watch: The value of simplicity

Despite the latest technology from car manufacturers, it’s the simpler stuff that’s soaring in value, says Alexanders Prestige co-founder Andrew North

Put your used car price guide down. Something funny is going on with high-end cars – especially Porsches.

There has been a surge in new vehicles being bought for above-list prices – cars that sell for more than their official manufacturer price. Once, you might’ve expected it for a new supercar or hypercar. A prime example is the new Porsche 911 GT3, which is currently selling for £100,000 above its list price. We know, because we had one in stock. Briefly.

Porsche seems to be the only brand that people are willing to pay more for from new, but nearly new cars from across the top manufacturers are gaining in value. Depreciation seems to have come to a halt. Modern classics aren’t cars that will appreciate in a few years’ time – it’s already happening.

The Ferrari 348, 355, 360 and 430 are all starting to increase in value, selling for far beyond what depreciation predictions ever guessed. The Ferrari 458, meanwhile, is going down, and I suspect the 488 will follow the same path.

The question to all of this is: why?

First of all, there’s more confidence with money. The economy has reached a patch of stability, more people are coming into more money, and they’re looking to put their capital into something that will both retain its value – if not boost it – while also being something they can enjoy.

The classic car market is doing very well, so much so that supply can’t match demand. So people are looking to newer cars, but they’re looking for something unique.

What makes a car unique and desirable is, principally, one that tugs at the heartstrings. At the moment, we have a Ferrari 360 Modena F1 in our showroom. When it was new in 2000, it cost around £107,000. Ten years ago it was worth £50,000, five years ago that was nearer £70,000, and now for sale at £64,995 – 60 per cent of its original value, 15 years on. This one has the automated manual, but a conventional manual could go for even more.

We always have Porsches in stock, and they’re always popular. In 2014 we sold 85 and so far this year 106 have left the showroom. Porsche’s PDK automatic gearbox is incredible – but customers adore the manual gearboxes even more.

New sports and supercars are now incredibly advanced. We all know that. Every element is mind-bogglingly impressive. Steering systems, suspension, transmissions and engines are all electronically controlled, for optimal performance and efficiency.

But is that what drivers want? If they’re looking for something special for when the roads are clear and the sun’s shining, possibly not.

Many drivers crave the simpler technology, and they don’t want turbos. They want something simple and pure that has driving thrills at its core, which all in turn creates a sense of longevity and – as a result – a feeling that this is a sound investment.

And if you think new cars being considered an investment is the reserve of sports cars, the same thing is happening to the Land Rover Defender – a car with a 67-year-old history. Once the vehicle of choice for farmers alone, now businessmen, families, motoring hacks and celebrities are buying them – likely as investments.

When will it stop, and how do we know which cars will go up and which will go down? We don’t. And that’s why it’s absolutely fascinating.