Are all rare cars valuable

We all have seen the listings where the seller uses the word rare as if it is the only word of meaning in the English language and you had better believe that he has the impression that the sale of this car is going to compensate for all the hair brain ideas he ever had where he did not listen to his wife when she did not think it was a smart idea to bet all the family savings on it. Growing up in NY in the 60s there was a TV show named the honeymooners where Jackie Gleason played as Ralph Kramden a city bus driver who would run his business venture ideas by his buddy who was forever willing to follow along for the ride, only for both to end up having to eat crow with their tails between their legs as their wives would tell them I told you so.

So you happen to get all fuzzy when you see the listing and the seller sees you as his meal ticket for a retirement plan. Now I will address the XJS as I always do but this time I am going to write a little about the word rare as it applies to any car.

Let's look at Rolls Royce as an example. The one I show in this post was my late wife’s car that she bought new in 1984 from Carriage House in Manhattan at $165,000 and this photo was in my office 20 years later with only around 5,000 original miles on the car. We had been married for a year so I had nothing to do with her purchase. Just to be clear of such cars are in the category as rare but are luxury items. Although such cars as Rolls, Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, and others are rare and costly to obtain because they are luxury items that are far different than valuable.

As it relates to cars, luxury cars should be placed into two categories. Sedans and two-door sports cars. Overall sedans such as my late wife’s Rolls will never hold any value. Even though the car had very low mileage and looked fantastic, it sold several years later for $26,500 with only 28,000 miles because it was a sedan that collectors do not seek. However, on the other hand, a sports car, the two-seater is the car that most people seek and they tend to increase in value or have a much greater potential to retain their value. Some may take a bit longer to become more valuable such as the XJS but they most times find their way by demand and availability.

Now, let's also understand that even the sporty car may be in the category of luxury items, and all such items are purchased because people want them but do not need them, some may become more valuable later in life than others. The SUV you need because you have a growing family and is not a luxury item. I remember the purchase of my first Mont Blanc; I was informed it was not a writing pen but a writing instrument. It performs the same task as a bic but when I hold it in my hand, the task is transformed into an experience.

So when seeking a classic car or selling one first understand the difference between value vs rare. And above all, remember that the amount you have paid for such items does not equal and investment therefore should not be viewed the same as an investment. Not all amounts of money spent is an investment. Investments are calculated actions. Luxury items are impulse actions.


  • A very good treatment of one of the most misunderstood subjects that I have read. Value is in the eye of the beholder, and nothing logical comes to mind when we seek to buy a car. We either need one, or we want one. No different than housing or any other item. In your own mind, this is what you need to satisfy yourself that you are worth it. Never mind the ‘investment’ aspect. That is what stocks and bonds are for.

    ronald stephenson
  • Thank you for writing the article.

    Bob Clark

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published