Someone has aptly said that ‘the beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Oftentimes, we want to replace our car once it gets ‘old’ after 5 to 6 years of use. There are a number of enthusiasts who find charm in the retro and they keep their vehicles for a long time – even paying a high premium for an old car so that they can restore it and later sell it for a higher price after a couple of years.
The frosting on the cake is that the prices of vintage cars appreciate with time. “They are a good investment hobby unlike your regular cars which depreciate in value,” says Diljeet Titus, a corporate lawyer and vintage car enthusiast who owns 78 classic vehicles.
They are exotic, rare, well-engineered, and available in limited numbers. And now, the law also permits them to drive on roads.
In July 2021, for the first time, India drafted rules for registration of vintage cars with relevant amendments made in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989. According to these rules, all the two-wheelers and cars will be defined as vintage motor vehicles fifty years after the date of their first registration.
So, any vehicle which was registered in 1971, or prior to that, can be registered as a vintage car in 2021 by paying only ₹20,000.
Only for the ultra-rich?
There are some misconceptions that only the super wealthy can afford to follow the passion of vintage cars. Titus is the General Secretary of Heritage Motoring Club of India (HMCI), a Delhi-based group that is committed to preserving and protecting classic automobiles. “We have 410 members and almost half of them don't have proper income,” he claims.
“There is a plumber who has seven vintage scooters and another member who is a lift technician who, too, maintains old scooters and motorcycles,” elaborates Mr Titus.
Keeping a vintage car needs extra space and maintenance. But whatever expenses one tends to incur can be recovered once the vehicle is sold off.
“Although it does require regular maintenance and space, it is not something which is beyond the means of most of us,” says Titus.
He adds that Mumbai has a scarcity of space despite this, it has the largest concentration of vintage vehicles.
What is important is that one has the right knowledge and a desire to educate oneself.
“There is an option for everyone depending on the budget. One can buy a motorcycle anywhere between ₹15-60K. One can buy a car also for something as small as one lakh rupees and can go up to ₹4-5 crore. You can get what you want from station wagon to pickup truck to fire engine,” explains Mr Titus.
He says that he once possessed 236 cars and sold most of them, and now retains 78 — not a modest number by any estimate because it was not easy to maintain all of them.
About price appreciation, he says that vintage vehicles can bring you anywhere between 20-25 percent per annum.
The reasons for selling a vintage car can be numerous, ranging from falling short of space, or disposing of the current asset to buy another premium vehicle. “I used to own a 1947 Cadillac sedan. I sold it to buy another Cadillac, but the new one was convertible. As they say the lower the roof, the higher the price,” says Titus.
So, it is worth highlighting that vintage cars and two-wheelers can be a great investment hobby for the rich and not-so-rich. Those who have a true passion for antique products can earn some extra income while fulfilling their hobby at the same time.