Car collectors and auctioneers always tell me that vintage cars have two benefits: they’re great investments, and you can actually enjoy and drive them.
But driving your multi-million-dollar investments may not be such a great idea – as we’ve just learned.
Media reports say that American investor and millionaire Christopher Cox banged up his 1962 Ferrari GTO during a Ferrari rally in France last week. Apparently, Cox was hit from behind by another car while he was turning, forcing him into a crash that battered the car’s front end. (Cox and his wife, who was in the passenger seat, are now fine after being treated for injuries).
The question now is the financial damage. While it’s unclear how much Cox paid for the car when he bought it in 2005, the Ferrari GTO is considered the “Picasso” of the auto world, a true work of art of prized scarcity. Only 38 were built, between 1962 and 1964. (Enzo Ferrari personally selected the original buyers).
A GTO built for racer Stirling Moss recently sold at auction for $35 million to telecom magnate Craig McCaw. Reports say Cox’s car – painted in baby blue with a canary-yellow racing stripe – may also be worth upwards of $30 million.
Cox’s car was involved in an earlier crash in 1976, reports say. And it could be rebuilt again, depending on the damage.
“If a car is properly restored, damages don’t necessarily affect the value, especially in the circumstance of a rare Ferrari 250 GTO,” said David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Company, the automobile auction company.
Auction experts and collectors say most highly priced collectible cars are insured with special “collector” or “hobby” policies. These policies usually allow the owners to drive the cars to car shows or event rallies, though they don’t usually cover daily use for commuting or grocery trips.
Mark Shussel of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, which writes special policies for collector cars, says people who own multi-million-dollar cars take extra care when taking them on the road.
“These owners tend not to drive them frequently,” he said. “They want to preserve their investment.”
The best way to preserve you investment in a collectible car, of course, is to keep it in the garage. But where’s the fun in that?
-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter: @robtfrank