Collecting Vintage Race Cars – Like Michael Schumacher's $9.5 Million Formula 1 Ferrari – Is The Latest Trend Among The Ultra-Rich

By on April 20, 2023 in ArticlesCelebrity Cars

It's well known that the ultra-wealthy have a penchant for collecting expensive items. And if you've got enough money, cars make a great collectible, but only recently have actual race cars become a collecting trend among the ultra-rich, as reported by a recent Bloomberg story. Take the Ferrari F1-2000 that Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher drove to his first World Championship back in 2000, for example. It just sold for an undisclosed sum at a private auction, but presale estimates from the Sotheby's auction house valued it at as much as $9.5 million.

Cars used in actual competitive races were once destined for the scrap heap after the race was over. But according to Andrew Olson of SM Sotheby's, that has begun to change:

"These cars used to be really difficult to sell, and people were scared off by them. Now, people are recognizing their historic importance and their racing history, and their significance is finally being appreciated."

Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

Ferrari has even started a special program for owners of "pre-raced" Ferrari automobiles. Corse Clienti allows members of that select clientele to race their treasures on tracks located throughout the globe with factory support, for a fee.

Without such a program, old race cars would just gather dust in the garage, since they are in the vast majority of cases not street legal. And aren't exactly known for their comfort or conveniences since they've been streamlined for maximum speed and performance in the highly specialized circumstances of competitive racing.

They're also notoriously expensive to keep in working order. But for lovers of racing, says Art Hebert of Motorsports Market, which specializes in the sale of race cars to collectors, they're a chance to own a piece of history:

"I was very typical as a kid, lusting after beautiful Ferraris and Jaguars but could never afford them. As time goes on, you raise your kids and they become self-supporting. You start thinking about: Now that I don't have all this cash going out, I've got an opportunity to relive those moments I wanted as a kid. So we buy these cars Mario Andretti or Michael Schumacher raced, and we get to have that thrill, the rush, of what it must have been like to be Schumacher at the Grand Prix — and winning."

Not everybody shares that kind of love of racing, not even all car collectors who have the money and resources to collect them in the first place. But the market for such used race cars has been trending upwards recently, like in 2017 when another car raced in by Schumacher sold for $7.5 million. That was a record at the time for a Formula 1 vehicle, but five years later it was practically doubled for yet another Schumacher Ferrari, that one selling for $15 million.

Even in the relatively lower price tiers in the field, used race cars are outselling their value estimates. A 1987 Kremer Porsche 962C recently went for over $900,000 against an estimate of $850,000, and a 1959 Lister-Chevrolet Sports Racer initially estimated to be worth $400,000 ended up selling for $423,000. Those might not seem like massive increases in value but they do show the increased interest in owning these vehicles among collectors.

And yet, that market remains, as the Bloomberg story states, "largely undiscovered," so you can expect more price records to be broken in the near future. As Olson put it:

"Why should a Ferrari F50 be worth only half the price of a Grand Prix-winning Schumacher F1 car? They built 350 Ferrari F50s, but they built eight Ferrari F-2000s. I wouldn't be surprised at all if five years from now the gap between great road cars and great Formula 1 cars has continued to widen."

There are also track-used race cars selling for much smaller amounts, so now might be a great time to invest in one even if you're not a multimillionaire collector!

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