Classic Car Killings: Three of the greatest collector car investments of all time

Ferrari 250 GTO

When discussing killings made in the market, the classic story seems to be that hypothetical person who invested $10,000 and bought 5,000 shares of Apple stock in 1985 for $2.00 a share, and held it for nearly 30 years, and watched that initial investment balloon to $6 million today.  Some people have done nearly as well in the classic car world. Here are some of our favorite killings in the classic car market:

  1. 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO: In the February 1981 issue of Hemmings Motor News, a small ad appeared for a 1964 Ferrari 250 GTO, serial number 4091, from a dealer in Joliet, Ill. The asking price was $285,000 (about $733,000 in today’s money). Admittedly, it was not a small sum for a very pretty but obsolete race car. But had you taken the plunge on this rare classic Ferrari (fewer than 40 were made), your investment would be worth around $50 million today. A similar car was reportedly sold for that sum a few weeks ago. That’s about an 18% annualized return.
  2. Bugatti collection for a pittance: In 1963, fishing equipment heir John Shakespeare dumped his collection of 30 classic Bugattis to a predatory French collector for a reported price of less than $250,000. The collection might today be worth close to $100 million, and included one of six Bugatti Royales, one of the most expensive cars on the planet. Shakespeare himself had scooped that one up for just $9,000 in 1956.
  3. A pair of Cobras for less than 100 grand: In the same issue of Hemmings Motor News referenced above, you could have purchased a pair of real Shelby Cobras for under $100,000 — just $30,000 for a small-block 289 Cobra and $60,000 for a big-block 427. Today, they’d be worth about $900,000 and $1.3 million, respectively.
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