Why we should all be buying pre-war cars
It is ironic in a wonderfully historically-appropriate way that pre-war cars are’n’t on as many car enthusiast’s radar as they should be. Over the past few years we have seen the prices of many cars rise dramatically – the mass-market supercars of the eighties for example – while some of the enthusiast’s cars of yesteryear have evaded the enthusiasm of the market. A generalisation maybe, but pre-war cars would be a good example of that.
It’s not surprising in many ways. ‘Pre-war’ was a long time ago and the bedroom wall effect hasn’t really filtered down to cars of that era. Then, just as we were wondering in the Classic & Sports Finance office what it would take to give pre-war cars a shot in the arm, a man called Henrik Fredriksen decided to sell his amazing collection of cars which were principally from this era – and what a collection it is. Roger Baillon has nothing on this chap.
I won’t go into the detail, mainly because at this early stage there isn’t much of it, but Mr Fredrikson has commissioned Bonhams to handle the sale of the cars in September and if you haven’t watched the video previewing both the cars and the sale location you really should, (we featured it here, ed). I would go so far as to say it is worth enduring the Ryanair flight from Stansted just to go and watch the cars being sold. Because boy are they beautiful and that’s the thing about the cars of that era – they looked amazing whether they were standing still, blasting round Brooklands or transporting royalty and the stars of the silver screen.
Speak to anyone about the cars of that era and words like ‘style’, ‘beauty’, ‘aesthetics’ and ‘exotic’ invariably pop up and quite rightly so. One word that isn’t mentioned so often is ‘rare’, which is remarkable given the numbers of cars produced in that period by the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley. Even more remarkable when you consider that these cars were coachbuilt – you bought your chassis and engine and then decided on what body style you wanted and who would clothe your car – so that certain styles were produced in numbers so low that calling any Eighties Ferrari rare is almost laughable.
So what is it like to own one of these stunning creations? I asked a man who knows a thing or two about them, Giles Crickmay of renowned pre-war Rolls-Royce & Bentley specialists Frank Dale & Stepsons. Mr Frederiksen sourced a number of the cars in his collection through Frank Dale, and Giles pointed out that many of his cars are some of the most exotic and beautiful ever made – and who could argue? Even if you don’t have pockets deep enough to splash out on a Bentley Speed Six or a Blower you can buy a stunning and rare Derby-built Bentley for roughly the price of a Testarossa – and I bet I know which would turn more heads when you turn up at Revival, let alone who would get the best parking.
Every pre-war car has its own personality and driving them takes a bit of practice which should appeal to the adventurous and those who feel more modern cars drive themselves. According to Giles there is nothing quite like the reaction you get from onlookers when driving one – which should probably come as no surprise. Specialist support is good in the UK and there are host of great events open to owners and their cars. The feelgood factor of these machines is high.
These amazing cars deserve a higher profile than they are often afforded, although I am sure the cognoscenti will be practicing their knowing looks right now. The sale should reaffirm and rekindle collector and enthusiast’s interest in pre-war motorcars. As James Knight of Bonhams put it – ‘If collectors think that they didn’t want a pre-war car, they will when they see this collection…’ and I wholeheartedly agree. Let’s hope that after all Mr.Fredriksen’s hard work we see something a little special happen on September 26th.
This article originally featured on the grrc.goodwood.com website on 8 July 2015