Forget the ISA, you need a GTI

Nowadays every time you glance at a newspaper or switch on the radio you quickly wish you hadn’t. We’re besieged with a blitz of bleakness. Costs are on the rise: Electricity, food, petrol, houses…. even cars; last week a Ford Escort sold for £730,000 at Silvertsone’s auction. Seven hundred and thirty thousand pounds. Granted it was a very rare black RS Turbo which belonged to Diana, the late Princess of Wales, driven from 1985 to 1988 with just 24,961 miles on the clock. Arwel Richards of Silverstones Auctions, who consigned the car, said after the sale: “We are honoured to sell this car which carries with it so much of our recent tragic royal past. If proof were needed that Diana remains for many the ‘Queen of Hearts” here is the proof’. It was a staggering price which no one could have foreseen”. “The final tussle for ownership of the car was between a Dubai buyer and a Cheshire based English buyer, both bidding online, with the English bidder winning in the end”.

Seven hundred and thirty thousand pounds, a staggering amount of money, money that will buy you a nice house in Manchester – for now at least. Next week, maybe not. And with interest rates on the climb, good luck getting a mortgage to begin with.

If you are fortunate enough to have some savings stashed away you may be feeling fairly smug right now. Well, I’m sorry to tell you that your nest egg will soon be worth precisely…nada. Inflation is rising quicker than sea levels thanks to climate change – I know, more doom and gloom.

So what are you to do with your money? What can you buy? Where can you invest? Don’t fret. Luckily for you, I have the answer and it comes in the form of the humble motorcar.

I’m often asked which cars are most likely to go up in value. That’s an easy question to answer: all of them. Most cars reach their lowest value when they reach America’s drinking age. Twenty-one is usually the age where a car will hit the bottom of its depreciation curve. Armed with this knowledge, I find myself whiling away most evenings looking at modern classics and then trying to justify the purchase.

Let me run you through what I’m currently trying to rationalise as ‘an investment’:

A 1996 Range Rover 4.6 HSE. A 1997 Mercedes SL320. A 1998 BMW 728i. I could bore you with some… so I will. A 2004 Porsche Cayenne Turbo. A 1999 Mercedes ML320. And perhaps the weirdest one on the list: A 1997 Peugeot 406 Coupe (styled by Pininfarina don’t you know).

As ridiculous as you might think this list is, I guarantee they will all go up in value. They will all out-perform an ISA.

The trouble is here in the UK things rust. A twenty year old car in Britain will have been devoured by a ruthless, ravenous tin worm. They are all rotten. Most of the wheel arches of the cars on my ‘watch list’ have the same surface as a teenager’s forehead. You on the other hand, over in Portugal, with your lovely agreeable climate don’t have this issue. The worst thing you will encounter is some faded paint or lacquer starting to peel like a ginger’s nose after a fortnight in the Algarve.

I know what you’re going to say. “Matt, car’s aren’t as cheap as they are in the UK. Nor is there as much choice”. Yes, you are right. That just means you have to think more creatively.

I filmed recently with a MK2 Renault Megane. A car so poorly built and unreliable it would make a striking frenchman blush. A car that I thought fit only for the scrapyard but I received several comments from people telling me that their parents had one when they were a child or how they learned to drive in one or other such nostalgic yarns. I didn’t expect people to be so wistful and sentimental about something so common and mundane. Some proclaimed that it was a future classic. This got me thinking. Maybe they are right. Nobody will think to save one until it’s too late.

I mean when was the last time you saw a Renault 11 like the one my parents took me to school in? or a 19? or 20 for that matter?

So why not focus your search on something more humdrum? I guarantee a well preserved Peugeot 206 or MK1 Focus will be worth a small fortune in the not-too-distant future. Especially a ‘hot’ version like a GTI or ST170.

I’ve looked on autoscout24 and the like and predictably there are lots to choose from. This is probably a more sensible idea than my original selection which admittedly would be so ruinous to run and maintain that any capital appreciation will be transferred directly to the bank account of your local mechanic.
The trick is to try and find something which has been overlooked and ignored.

If you are lucky you might even stumble upon one owned by a late royal and you will be able to profit greatly and use the money to buy a nice house. For now.