The classic car market is stronger than ever – and it's set to strengthen further, according to the curator at the Gosford Classic Car Museum, Ken Grindrod.
The privately owned museum – the largest classic car museum in the southern hemisphere – held its first auction last month, something that saw 35 of the 68 cars sold under the hammer and "another eight or nine" sold during negotiations after the event, which was run by Pickles.
The auction included a broad selection of vehicles from the $60 million collection of 400 cars owned by former car salesman Tony Denny.
As well as cars from around the world there was a solid presence of Australian cars just weeks after the final locally-produced vehicles rolled off the Holden production line in Elizabeth, South Australia.
The Ford Falcon GTHO Phase 3 – long the darling of classic Australian muscle cars – fetched $520,000, continuing the strength in local classics.
Grindrod believes the car could be a record for an Australian barn find – a car left untouched for years in a garage or paddock.
"The previous owner owned it since new," he says. "It hasn't been driven since 1982."
Other Australian cars at the auction included an FJ Holden Ute, an HG Monaro, an XC Falcon Cobra and a Leyland P76.
Fast and luxurious
Italian supercars received their fair share of attention, with a red Lamborghini Countach fetching $520,000.
Two of Porsche's fastest and rarest supercars – the 959 and Carrera GT – were also put up for sale, although failed to sell for the hoped-for $2 million and $1.5 million estimates. Negotiations are continuing.
An original Chevrolet Corvette was also on hand, one of many American muscle cars tempting buyers with their iconic styling and performance.
The auction also included a legendary 1968 Mercedes-Benz 600 Grosser, the same type of car owned by everyone from the Pope and Suddam Hussein to Elizabeth Taylor and Elvis Presley.
As well as its original owner's manual and tools the car comes with the original portable TV and phone offered in the 1960s.
Age becomes them
The oldest car was a 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost from the Springfield factory in Massachusetts, USA, while the newest was a Porsche 911 R, which offers a manual gearbox with the track-honed engine of a 911 GT3 RS.
One of the rarest cars that attracted overseas interest was the Jaguar XJR-15, a two-seater early 1990s supercar inspired by Le Mans racers and designed by McLaren F1 stylist Peter Stevens.
"There was quite a bit of overseas interest, mainly on our XJR-15, which we're still negotiating on," says Grindrod. "That interest in mainly coming in from Malaysia and Hong Kong."
On the nose
Many classic cars have notched up better returns than the stock market or fine wines, an indication of the interest in rare and irreplaceable machines.
However, not all are kicking hard.
Collectors in England, for example, have been hit by Brexit, which has taken its toll on the value of the British pound.
"The problem with the UK is Brexit; it's a pretty flat market over there," says Grindrod. "What happens in the UK normally dictates a little bit what happens in the world [with classic car values]."
But Grindrod believes it's a bump in the road rather than a trend.
"It'll come back, it always bounces back.
"The American market is very, very strong at the moment. Then you've got the Hong Kong, Malaysia – the Asian market is always strong, the Chinese are big buyers of classic cars, so that market will always be strong."
While favourable economic conditions and strong house prices have been credited with boosting the new car market – something that rubs off on the classics – Grindrod lists superannuation as helping boost prices of classic cars.
Since 1997 Australians have received compulsory superannuation payments from their employees and in recent years many have self-managed their funds, in turn investing in things such as property or art.
And classic cars.
"It's a good investment, it's an investment that you can sit in," says Grindrod. "We get a lot of people coming to us and saying 'I've got X amount of dollars and I want to buy a nice classic, what should we buy, where should we go, where should we start?'"
Grindrod says the classic car market has further to run, something that could accelerate with the slowdown in the property market.
"I believe it'll keep growing and this is because there's a hell of a lot of superannuation money.
"It's not just the mums and dads with their superannuation, there's a lot of self-funded retirees … and, of course, then you've always got your international car market, which is huge; it's massive these days."
Wait, there's more
The success of the Gosford Classic Car Museum's inaugural auction will likely lead to more.
"It's turned out quite successful and we'll no doubt be looking to hold an annual auction," says Grindrod, adding that the event was more than just buying and selling cars.
"We made an event of it. We had catering and we had our Kombi Keg, which serves beer, and we had a band.
"We'll keep promoting it that way so it's more of an event than just an auction."
The auction also raised about $15,000 for the charity Kids in Need with the sale of a 1990 Formula Vee race car.
Check out the gallery above to see the best investments from the Gosford Classic.