A Sound Investment?

Posted April 23, 2019

By Dean Larson

Photos: Sellers, BaT

I remember a particular conversation I had with a friend where we debated the value of kit cars and replica vehicles. As the owner of a couple hot Mustangs from the ’80s and early 2000s, he reasoned that he’d rather invest his money in affordable classics that might make money some day, instead of a car that wasn’t “real.” That’s a fair approach, and I cannot deny that affordable classics become a more significant portion of the collector car market everyday.

But to say that “fake” cars (we’ll run with it for now) are an inferior investment was an argument I took issue with, and for a good number of reasons. If you define an investment as the allocation of funds for future benefit, then any use of those funds that leads to enjoyment validates that investment, at least in a way. And on that same train of thought, you’ll certainly get a lot more use and physical enjoyment from a replica vehicle than a rare original.

Take an original 356 Speedster for instance. With values reaching into the $300,000s, you’ll certainly think twice before driving your original Pre-A 356 far from home without proper weather gear and excellent insurance. That’s also the same reason why many individuals with a priceless classic in the garage choose to have an exact replica of it constructed for actual driving. Running originals on the track and on the street has just become too risky, and the cars just too difficult to replace. As car guys, we love history, nostalgia and classic survivors, but what we really love, is driving.

Not to mention, the average auto enthusiast stands a slim chance at manning the wheel of an original Porsche 904, one of six original Daytona Coupes, or a Ferrari 250 GTO. The replica market provides a more attainable route for the average person to own and drive hero cars. And not just on a parade lap or in a parking lot, but to a car meet, movie theater, or the race track for vintage weekend.

I also want to talk briefly about the ERA 427 Cobra roadster that recently sold on BringaTrailer.com. Completed in 2002, the ERA is a stunning and revered model powered by a 428 ci Cobra Jet engine. It’s been well loved, and enjoyed for 11,000-plus miles — more than many out there, but not unusual for the marque.

On 04/17/19, the car was sold on BaT for $54,150 with enthusiastic bidding until the end. That’s good money for a replica roadster, but the car was honestly well bought. Interestingly, the same car, chassis CT39090, was sold on BaT back in 2017 for $48,428. The only real differences we can account for, are two years of time, slightly improved photography and the wheels have been fogged in matte black. We’re not saying the $5,700 increase can be called appreciation, but it’s definitely not depreciation, and there’s no material difference in the car between the two sales. In fact, three bidders were in on the action in the 2019 sale for more than the car sold for in 2017.

All told, it’s unlikely that you’ll wake up one day to find your Ford GT recreation is worth a ton more than you paid for it (at least not in most situations), but today’s quality replica vehicles are accepted and valued far beyond their original purchasers and builders. Just look at what your average Cobra replica sells for at Barrett-Jackson.

In the end, the value of your investment in a vehicle is determined by a lot more than what Hagerty, NADA Guides or the auction companies say. A car may pay you back on the auction block, or on a full-throttle pass down the block. And in this crowd, we really value driving.

Era Ct39090 10

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