New rich drive classic car sales

Tue, Aug 20, 2013, 01:00

Strict rules banning cars more than 10 years’ old on China’s roads kept the brake on the market for classic cars, but it seems rising middle-class incomes and a burgeoning obsession with cars has seen a new interest emerge.

A report in March by Knight Frank showed the Chinese new wealthy are increasingly bullish on the classic-car market as an investment vehicle and collectors believe it is only a matter of time before we start to see Chinese enthusiasts combing the international markets looking for hot classic cars as an investment.

In 2011, Beijing Poly International, one of China’s leading auction houses, sold five vintage cars at its spring auction, the first such sale in China.

One of China’s most passionate collectors of classic cars is Luo Wenyou, who opened the country’s first private museum for classic cars in 2009 – he has more than 200 examples, both Chinese and foreign.

Among Chinese marques, the biggest name is the Hongqi, or Red Flag, from First Automobile Works (FAW). This was originally a limousine custom-built for chairman Mao Zedong in 1958.

The Red Flag limousine has recently been revived in the shape of the H7, which FAW hopes to make the official car for minister-level officials.

“The Chinese brands I have include the Red Flag [former premier] Zhou Enlai used for taking part in parades and Zhou’s personal car,” says Mr Luo.

“I like collecting Red Flag cars because it is our national brand. In the old days, when foreign leaders came to visit China, they all wanted to travel in the Red Flag cars.

In December, the state administration of culture heritage held the first classic car seminar in the Shanghai Auto Museum, which was attended by collectors, experts and museum directors.