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Want To Make A Serious Classic Car Investment? Find A Rare Color

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This March 22 in the Year of our Lord 2023 is proving to be what we in the business call a “Slow News Day.” Of course, now that I’ve articulated this, within an hour Elon Musk will probably have disappeared inside a time machine of his own creation only to find himself jumping from person to person in the 20th century, righting wrongs and helping people, and also completely tanking Tesla’s stock price. Here’s hoping that isn’t the case; I could use a quiet day for a change.

But that doesn’t mean there is no news, and so today we’re talking classic car values, Italy’s fight for biofuels, women buying EVs and why Genesis needed to up Hyundai’s dealer game. Let’s do this.

Color Matters If You Want To See Green

1961 Ferrari 250 Gt Swb Ca Spider 8 So5pgq
Photo: Gooding & Co., as you might have guessed

I’ve never been huge on the idea of cars as an “investment.” Ninety-nine percent of the time, that simply won’t be the case, and I think cars are ultimately tools that are meant to be driven. (It shouldn’t surprise you that the team that salutes this sort of behavior would think so.) But many cars are worth what people are willing to pay for them.

Collector car values have skyrocketed in recent years as more and more people treat them as investment pieces, the same as fine art or exotic wine. Every year, I feel like some new 1960s Ferrari sells at auction for a record-breaking amount of money. But at this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider that sold for a record $18 million at a Gooding & Co. auction actually had something rather interesting going on with it: it’s blue. And the only example of that car ever sold new in that shade.

Scoff at classic car values all you want, but you sort of get why this one was a big deal. Here’s Bloomberg about what this sale says about classic car colors:

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But it was a further element that made the Ferrari most alluring: its color. Gooding’s headlining car was the world’s only example delivered new in Azzurro Metallizzato, or metallic blue.

“Unique and rare colors most certainly can contribute to higher values at auction and in the general marketplace,” says David Gooding, the founder and president of Gooding & Co. “‘Traditional’ car colors may be more ‘safe’ when it comes to buying and selling, but we see more opportunity for drastic upticks in value when an already great collector car is available in its factory-delivered, rare and visually appealing color scheme.”

‘Safe’ means a sure bet, something with a relatively steady track record when it comes to value and mass appeal. You know you’ll find a buyer for a car in a standard color. But along with rarity, pedigree and condition, certain eccentric or specially requested colors on a collectible car can deliver a pleasant bump in value.

“Color completely matters,” says Bryon Madsen, the chief strategy officer of auction house RM Sotheby’s. “You don’t know how much, but you know that [a unique color] will command a premium.”

The old adage is that non-red Ferraris command less resale value than the red ones, because people want what they want. Apparently, that hasn’t been true since the ’80s, however. And as that story points out, our normal-car choices are supremely boring these days; we Americans love various shades of white, gray and black. Bleh.

But if you want to make some money on your vintage classic, get a real color:

And yet, when it comes to the blue chip classics, discerning collectors favor something far more interesting.

“Color is usually the primary [search criteria] for our clients,” says Eli Kogan, the owner of Otto Car Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, who often sources high-value collectible vehicles for club members.

Forget red Ferrari Testarossas and silver Porsche 911s—so expected, they’ve become clichés. If you want to own something that commands a higher value than comparable models from its era, you need something from the outer ends of the color spectrum, something no one else is likely to have: a blue Ferrari, for instance. At RM Sotheby’s, a 1976 Ferrari 308 GTB “Vetroresina” painted in a striking, dark azzurro metallizzato sold for $313,000, against a pre-auction high estimate of $275,000.

Porsche has even had to re-issue its Rubystone shade for customized new models, apparently. Maybe this newfound love of colors will trickle down to more normal cars. One can hope, anyway. We could all use a little more color in our lives.

Italy Demands Biofuels As Well As E-Fuels In European ICE Ban Fight

Yugo Ferrari
Photo: Jason Torchinsky

Speaking of Italian cars, that country is hitting back even harder at the European Union’s proposed de-facto 2035 ban on internal combustion. As we’ve reported, the Germans wanted a carve-out for e-fuels—the allegedly “carbon neutral” synthetic fuels that are really only such if they’re produced using expensive and experimental carbon capture technology.

Now, the Italians want an exemption for biofuels as well. Those are also synthetic fuels, but created from biomass, like algae, animal waste, plant waste, industrial byproducts and so-on. Ethanol is a biofuel, for example. They’re lower in carbon emissions than gasoline, but still produce them, and the EU wants to go carbon-zero with its cars in about a decade.

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Here’s Reuters on Italy’s holdup:

“Italy would not accept an unduly restricted interpretation by the Commission of ‘CO2 neutral fuels’, that includes only e-fuels and not biofuels,” three Italian ministers, of transport, environment and enterprises, said in the letter dated March 21 and seen by Reuters.

Brussels is in talks with Germany to attempt to resolve the row, with some officials hoping to reach a deal before a summit of EU leaders on Thursday. Countries including Poland and the Czech Republic have also raised issues with the law.

In an attempt to resolve it, the Commission has drafted a proposal to allow carmakers to register new cars that run exclusively on carbon neutral fuels. The draft, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, did not include biofuels in the definition of “carbon neutral fuels”.

The takeaway here is that lots of NGOs and governments (and even some automakers) say they want to phase out powertrains that create carbon emissions, but the political reality of making this happen is a lot more complicated. For Germany and Italy, both countries want to protect their automotive industries and the jobs therein, and the newest Italian government is proving highly resistant to environmental regulations.

I tend to think e-fuels, specifically, have some value in helping the transition to a majority zero-emissions car industry and eventually keeping some classic cars on the road. (Let’s face it: this is the problem, not so much you taking your Miata out for the occasional jaunt on weekends when the weather’s nice.) I don’t see it as a magic-bullet solution that can keep internal combustion alive. But the global political fights to solve this question are just getting started.

Charging Location Safety Concerns May Deter Women EV Buyers

56047393 0063 4bf3 9504 88c8d6264723 1 105 C
Photo: Patrick George

It’s no great secret that a lot of EV charging locations are in afterthought spots, often shoved into the back of some random parking lot. There are a few near me in New York that always seem to be next to, or under, the combined winter snow-garbage pile from a neighboring business. Gas stations aren’t great, but at least they’re supposed to be well-lit and generally plentiful enough that you can go to a nearby one if you don’t like the vibes. Charging an EV in some random lot in the dead of the night isn’t great for anyone.

That’s especially true for women EV buyers, who told the nonprofit news site The 19th that charging location safety concerns may be turning them back to gas cars:

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Women were twice as likely to say they were concerned about their safety at public charging stations. Unlike gas stations, charging stations do not have employees on site and tend to be more out of the way — often they are situated in the back of parking lots. And in comparison to the five minutes it takes to fill up a car with gas, electric cars require at least 30 minutes to recharge.

Russak, who has two adult daughters, 18 and 22, said she wouldn’t feel comfortable if either of them had to charge the car at night or in an isolated place.

“It would be creepy,” she said. “In Canada there are these [charging] stations off the mountain roads at utility stations or rest stops, but they are off the beaten path. I wouldn’t stop at one of those at night.”

The story brings up some very valid points as it seeks to address why EV buyers have lately been men so far—a reversal from a century ago, when their cleanliness and ease of operation led them to largely be marketed to women. Also, I don’t want to stereotype, but I do think it’s true that women tend to be more practical car buyers than men do, leading them to have more concerns over charging times, reliability and availability. (Look, let’s face it, when somebody tries to use a Boxster as a moving van, that’s usually dude behavior.) The story’s worth a read in full, as it has some interesting lessons for the auto industry if it seeks to appeal to everyone with this pivot to EVs.

Time For Genesis To Stand Alone, Stop Selling ‘Out The Side Door of a Hyundai Dealership’

Genesis Electrified G80
Photo credit: Genesis

It’s no secret that Hyundai and Kia really got their shit together over the last decade, and in my estimation are making a ton of world-beater cars these days. But one big deterrent to their wider success in America has been their dealer network—an operation that’s often stuck in the 1990s when both brands appealed to, well, less affluent buyers, to put it kindly. Dealers often have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the decade they’re supposed to be in. And I’ve heard many a Hyundai and Kia exec in America roll their eyes at how their dealers act even today.

Genesis, the group’s Lexus- and Mercedes-fighting luxury division, simply cannot have any of that nonsense. It’s got big plans, and that means standalone dealerships that are not attached to a Hyundai store because it’s not the vibe they want to give off. Here’s Automotive News on the big upcoming Genesis dealer rollout:

“It’s not fair to put Genesis up against a BMW, Mercedes or even a Lexus store when it has an amazing product, yet you’re selling it out the side door of a Hyundai dealership,” Bergstrom said.

“That’s not luxury,” he said. “The dealers know it, and the manufacturers know it; it’s just how do we get from where we are today?”

Things have been changing for Genesis since 2020, and that could make the investment proposition look much sweeter for hesitant dealers.

What once was a three-sedan portfolio offered by a Hyundai spinoff has grown into a lineup of high-design, tech-forward vehicles that includes two top-selling luxury crossovers and three electric vehicles. The brand is now regarded as a bonafide luxury player by U.S. consumers. Genesis sales hit 56,410 vehicles last year, a 14 percent year-over-year increase in a market that declined by 7.9 percent.

But progress is slow. Genesis has 270 dealerships now, but only four are standalone stores. Expect a lot of pressure from up top for that to change.

Your Turn

Let’s talk car colors! What have you had? What do you like best? And who’s doing colors best right now?

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beancounter
beancounter
2 months ago

After 5 years of owning several white cars, I declared in 2017 that every car from then onward would be something different. Started with a 2017 Lexus RCF in Supersonic Blue 2.0 then to a 2020 4Runner in Army Green. And then started a 90s collection wtih a 1993 Previa in Blue Mist, 1996 Corvette in Polo Green, 1995 Buick Roadmaster Estate in Adriatic Metallic with some “wood” paneling. And now I have 2022 Tundra in Smoked Mesquite (brown).

A few of the colors that I think are some of the best in the biz: Mazda’s Soul Red, Lexus’ Copper Crest and Structural Blue, Porsche’s Mexico Blue and Cassis Red, BMW’s Thundernight Metallic, Rivian’s Compass Yellow, Toyota’s Bronze Age and Cavalry Blue and so many more…

LindaNichols
LindaNichols
2 months ago

I’m making over $13k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

That is what I do… https://c2d.in/joblive76

Defiant2
Defiant2
2 months ago

“Colors:” Coniston Green, Mauritius Blue, Competizone Red, HellRot, Deep Sea Blue, Yellow
“Others:” Hockenheim Silber, Polaris Silber, Titanium Silver, Sophisto Grey, Cactus Grey, Black Raven, Silver Ice, Platinum Silver…

Funny – of the cars I still have, only one remains from the “other” category and that was usually the daily driver whereas the others kept are the weekend/fun ones…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago

After having a completely invisible (no headights. Mine were on) silver Subaru XT blow past me in my silver XT in the rain one day, I have tried to-where possible-chose visible colors. But, when you feed at the bottom of the market, you grab what runs above all else. Ironically, while I now have a much newer Mica Blue Subaru, I really like their molten-looking silver: I actively covet a silver WRX Hawkeye wagon.

I’ve had many blue & grey 80s Subarus, a brown Sapporo, green classic Beetle, orange & yellow Type 2s, a green Previa, blue, black, white, silver, and purple-blue Mercedes. Plus other assorted short-term flipper vehicles I don’t really remember

Widgetsltd
Widgetsltd
2 months ago

Some of my more colorful cars over the years:
* two different 1973 Fiat 124 Spiders – maroon (similar to BMW Malaga color)
* 1976 Lancia Beta Coupe – repainted Porsche Guards Red
* 1974 Fiat 124 Spider – baby blue
* 1976 Fiat X1/9 – grass green
* 1997 Dodge neon ACR (SCCA road racing car) – Viper red over bright white
* two different 1995 neon Coupes (one ACR) – Nitro Yellow-Green
* 1997 neon ACR Coupe – Flame Red
* 1996 Caravan LE – Candy Apple Red Tricoat over gray (looked just like the one in the ads!)
* 2000 Boxster S – Ocean Blue metallic (has a purplish cast in bright light; 4 paint cans on Rennbow!)
* 2017 Chevy Bolt EV – Cajun Red Tintcoat

Ron888
Ron888
2 months ago

Lets be blunt: the EU’s zero emissions car ideas are incredibly idiotic from the getgo.What’s the point of forcing such rules when EVs use energy generated by (mostly) polluting sources??This kind of voluntary stupidity really gets me mad.

Set pollution limits then let market forces deal with it.Only get involved when there are compelling reasons to do so

knowonelse
knowonelse
2 months ago

Blue. Various shades of blue.
Grew up with a blue Plymouth as a child. Barely remember it.
Learned to drive in our light blue ’64 F100 crewcab truck (still have and drive it). Unfortunately a crash resulted in an Earl Scheib almost similar light blue.
It still bugs me that I had my ’67 VW squareback painted a slightly different shade of blue by MAACO some many years ago. It needs to be the original blue. Working on it now.
First Prius was blue, not the good dark blue, just the boring blue.
Second Prius (2020 AWD) is a great blue.
Lobbying for a blue Rav4 hybrid when spouse finally gets out of leasing and actually buys.

sonofLP500
sonofLP500
2 months ago

‘This March 22 in the Year of our Lord 2023 is proving to be what we in the business call a “Slow News Day.” ….I could use a quiet day for a change.’
This was one of the most interesting MDs recently, with a variety of stuff to make you think: biofuels, which seemed to have fallen off everyone’s radar recently; charger locations skewing the balance of the EV market; Hyundai caught between a rock and a hard place.
Tesla and Musk quality control/Autopilot/Twitter etc. etc. problems are becoming rinse and repeat and I can do without any more updates on production bottlenecks, chip/commodity shortages, secondhand car prices, Toyota vs. the World, what have you. And all of this stuff is well covered in other news media.
More slow news days, please.

Salty B
Salty B
2 months ago

My BMW is boring “mineral gray” but it has a bright red leather interior, which goes really well with that paint color.

I’m kind of interested in the new M2, but the color choices are awful. That pale blue is just…no. I want that gorgeous purple that’s available on the M240 and as they’re both made in the same plant I don’t see why I can’t get a purple M2.

Rata
Rata
2 months ago

Current Fleet
2023 Maverick – Cactus Grey Reminds me of the old plasticine color, only lighter greenish grey
2018 Clarity – Boring ass black metallic
2001 M3 – Carbon schwarz Black in the shade, dark blue in the sun

Best color recently owned – 1971 Coupe deVille – Duchess Gold with a white vinyl top. Such a great color in the old lacquer finishes.

hwyengr
hwyengr
2 months ago

I’m sending this to my wife, who was quite concerned with the color of my brown 928. Um, I mean muskatbraunmetallic.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
2 months ago

Purple
Red
Brown
Two black
Silver
Just need a green to complete my weird color collection.

nemebean
nemebean
2 months ago

As an unusually large man, it is always eye-opening to talk to women about car stuff. There are a lot of things that just don’t occur to me because nobody messes with a 6’5″ 255 lb guy. One example that is relevant here is parking lots. Our local bike trail has an unlit parking lot, and one of my friends won’t ride there at night because it’s fairly remote and she’s not comfortable being there after dark. Also related, another friend doesn’t want her car to open all the doors when she uses the remote because if someone is following her she doesn’t want them to be able to get in the car with her. She had a stalker for a few years so she’s especially cautious, and justifiably so.

On a lighter note, I’ve owned two blue vehicles, a yellow, a black, and a silver. I also have a white motorcycle, although that was supposed to be red. Color is definitely a consideration when I shop. The silver car was purchased because it was cheap and it was going to be parked outside so I wanted something a little ugly to start out with. That way I don’t have to feel bad about it getting baked in the sun all day. 😉

Mannish
Mannish
2 months ago
Reply to  nemebean

Most of my female and femme-leaning friends will do things like call one another when walking somewhere alone, or keeping their keys between their fingers like a crude knuckleduster, or checking under their cars or in their backseat before getting in to make sure no one is waiting for them at/in their car. Situational awareness should be the name of the game for everyone, but especially so for women/femmes unfortunately.

I’ve mostly managed to get by okay, but I did have an extremely unsettling experience with a locksmith once that has made me VERY paranoid about keeping my keys on me and not accidentally locking them in my car ever again.

DumbShadetree
DumbShadetree
2 months ago

Rare colors are worth more if the car is already rare. This does not apply to the guys at every car show who can tell you “600,000 were made in 1966, but only 95,000 had this drivetrain. When you add in the factory floor mats and all the other options, only 12,000 like it were made – but THIS ONE IS A RARE COLOR and that makes it one of only 1,274!”.

No Gary. While your 1966 Mustang is very cool and is impressively well restored, it is not a rarity.

Marteau
Marteau
2 months ago
Reply to  DumbShadetree

Actually it does. It’s potentially way rarer than some porsches or Ferrari.
Can’t stand wank circles of the 20 porsches guys with the same cars at every c&c.

jsfauxtaug
jsfauxtaug
2 months ago

In keeping with the theme of Camaro’s Last Call, I ordered a 23’ LT1 in Vivid Orange and white rally stripes. It’s sort of a homage to the og. Camaro, but it’s a fantastic color that’s rarely picked.

Pick for best new colors would probably go to Dodge because of all the fun colors you can pick.

stryker_t
stryker_t
2 months ago

for anything I’ve bought, I’ve always wanted a specific color and waited for it.

my first car I think I waited 5 months before one showed up? with my bike I searched for maybe a year before I found a used one that was in the extra cost color that was hard to find. with the car I got my mom, I waited 4 months before the dealer finally found one in the state allocation and had to trade another dealer for it.

Steve O 1981
Steve O 1981
2 months ago

Having never bought a new car, color has always been secondary to age, mileage, trim level, etc.
So, my car color history is as follows: 1991 BMW 318i 5-speed (miss that car) – Arctic Silver
2001 BMW 330i 5-speed (miss that car even more) – Titanium Silver
2006 Toyota Rav4 – Blue
2013 Subaru Outback – White

I did get to choose the color of my 1967 Mustang when we rebuilt it, it’s now a lovely shade of Acapulco Blue, was originally Pebble Beige and was flat White when i got it.

TwoSegaGarage
TwoSegaGarage
2 months ago

Colors:

2000 Mazda MPV (true red, faded in proud Ford Mazda tradition), 2016 SportWagen (silk blue, the best color), 2008 Saturn Aura (dark blue), 2019 Genesis G70 (gray, settled because it was manual and local and in good shape). I want to see greens and purples and nice reds but that’s not our world. Dodge always seems to have cool colors, so you have something nice to look at while waiting on AAA. Color doesn’t matter too much to me (all 3 of the newest ones have black interiors, which I hate) as long as I get whatever else I need/want in the car.

Re: Genesis, it seems to be a feedback loop of nobody thinks of Genesis as luxury because of Hyundai dealers, while the dealers won’t build Genesis showrooms because not enough people buy them yet. Guess building your way out of the problem is an idea.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago

I have had a lot of different colors, I always gravitate towards black. After one too many people hitting my Silver Passat because they claimed they did not see it, I think maybe silver is not a color I want ever again.

Currently we have Red, Blue, Dark Blue, Grey, Champagne and Plum Crazy Purple on the cars in the stable. SO My claimed interest in Black for a car color kind of seems incorrect….Huh. I guess a good deal is more important than color for me.

JDE
JDE
2 months ago
Reply to  JDE

I guess I do have a black motorcycle, does that count?

Also I think maybe the best color company right now might be Ram.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
2 months ago
Reply to  JDE

I really like Nissan’s copper color (but will never own a modern one after their treatment of us over a cvt), and Mazda’s darkish red. Those two colors always stand out to me in traffic

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
2 months ago

I’ve had cars that were blue, red, maroon, green (specifically Lotus Racing Green), a weird light blue and even one car that was a combination of green, white, red and yellow when I bought it, and then I painted it black and orange. For 20 years my motorbikes were lime green (some with a chunk of purple), and the last one I bought was red, white, blue and gold.

My current cars are grey. I like grey.

mdharrell
mdharrell
2 months ago

I mostly function in an opportunistic manner, keeping an eye open for inexpensive oddball very used vehicles while following no particular plan or goal, which means color typically has been much more a matter of chance than of choice. I’m also way too cheap even to think about repainting a vehicle; I take what I get. So, here are my cars in order of acquisition (I think, more or less) over the years:

blue & white, white, white, geranium & white, red, maroon, yellow, gold, tan, white, gold, white, turquoise, white, red, red, white, green, blue, green, green, red, maroon, blue, yellow, white, and tan.

Throw in one white pickup, one green and one yellow fully-enclosed three-wheeler, and one yellow & black three-wheeled moped and that’s the street-legal list.

mr.choppers
mr.choppers
2 months ago
Reply to  mdharrell

Same here (on a smaller scale and on 2% if your budget), but still, one of my cars is in Tahitian Green Pearl (BG28P) while the other one is “Mysterious Night Toning.”

98Z28
98Z28
2 months ago

Pretty boring colors – black, white, red, gray. darker gray. blueish/green.

Sklooner
Sklooner
2 months ago

It seems the ‘weird’ colours drop the price initially and then they go up in value, sadly I but used based on options and such, colour is far down the list

fueledbymetal
fueledbymetal
2 months ago

I’ve custom ordered every car I’ve bought new with the exception of a couple GTIs and I always specify an actual color. Currently rocking a Lava Orange Cayman and have an Isle of Man green M3 on order as a daily.

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