The auto industry may have finally embraced electrification, but don’t expect car collectors to do the same.
Two of the world’s preeminent collectors, Bruce Meyer and Merle Mullin, talked with our own Viju Mathew about what the future has in store for their pastime at Robb Report’s House of Robb at Wynn Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon. And both agreed that there isn’t an EV on the market that’s likely to set the auction market aflame anytime soon.
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“I just don’t see,” Meyer said. “I don’t see the electric car as being as collectible as an internal combustion car.”
Meyer and Mullin both know a thing or two about what they’re talking about. Meyer owns one of the finest assemblages of race cars on the planet, including the Ferrari 250 GT SWB that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1961. Mullin helped her late husband Peter put together a stunning roster primarily focused on Art Deco-era cars built by French marques like Bugatti and Talbot-Lago (Robb Report coincidentally gave a ribbon to her Delahaye 165 at the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance on Saturday).
During the conversation, the pair were asked if they thought the final internal combustion engine Rolls-Royce or the company’s first EV, the Spectre, would end up being more valuable. Both were quick to name the former as the better investment. Neither has a thing against battery-powered vehicles—they both own and drive them—but see their value as being their functionality, not their collectability. In fact, they both expect EVs to push collectors, even younger ones, towards classic cars.
“Things are changing,” Mullin said. “Tastes are changing. But I think as we get further away from the classic cars with internal combustion engines, it will help to rekindle the fascination with them.”
Meyer pointed out that the auction market has already shown that collectors value older technologies over what’s in fashion today. “If you have a six-speed Porsche, you’re going to get more money for it than one with a PDK [transmission],” Meyer said. “So, there’s the people that do respect where we came from.”
Meyer and Mullin also said that they hope a renewed interest in classic cars will push people to learn more about those vehicles and how they work. They’re both doing their part to pass their knowledge on to others. The Bruce Meyer Scholarship Fund provides internships for teens and young adults at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Meanwhile, the Mullin Transportation Design Center will open at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, next spring (her and her husband’s collection is also open to the public).
In the end, though, they both agreed that what is most important for a collector is to buy something they’re passionate about. As Meyer said near the end of the conversation: “Whether it’s art, cars, or anything, just buy what you like. Because if you like it, you like it whether it’s worth this or that.”
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