Should previous owner influence car value?

12 Nov, 2023 - 00:11 0 Views
Should previous owner influence car value?

The Sunday Mail

SHOULD provenance matter when it comes to car sales? It is a question that has crossed our minds many times over the years and a few more times in recent months.

This occurred mostly while reading mainstream automotive websites and/or advertisements for classic or sports cars.

Provenance is defined as the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature. Of course, some cars are among the more valuable things one can buy these days. A classic Mercedes-Benz sold for a staggering US$143 million (yes, million) last year.

In the automotive world, provenance has extended beyond just ownership. Artworks and manuscripts have to sit idly in palatial homes enjoyed only by one’s eyes.

Cars, on the other hand, can be driven and raced. And they most definitely should.

We are firm believers that cars should be driven as much as possible. It is, after all, why they were created. Ironically, driving cars too much usually tends to lower their value, but we will discuss that another time.

Cars that have been raced, and successfully at that, tend to fetch higher prices when they change hands. The more famous the race, the higher the price.

The value of our MX-5 race car is unlikely to increase because it scored a victory at a club level series. However, a Porsche that won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans or a Ferrari that Michael Schumacher steered to an F1 title will carry a hefty premium. And understandably so. The car has a place in automotive history and several people will want to own that historic object, which invariably drives up the price.

Ownership history

More and more often we see cars advertised. The adverts proclaim ownership history, or at the very least, the famous bits to help drive up the asking price.

The Ferrari F50 (pictured) was once owned by Rod Stewart.

We saw an article a week ago with the proud headline “We drove Jay Kay’s Ferrari that’s for sale”.

We read that same kind of headline regularly. You can own an A-list actor’s Lambo or some famous rapper’s SUV.

That level of ownership “provenance” (used loosely here) extends even further. We regularly get offered cars to advertise through our personal channels, cars that friends of friends are trying to sell. The pitch can sometimes leave us scratching our heads.

“This car was owned by the dealer principal of the third largest dealership in the Western Cape. It was the fifth grey one delivered in 2012.”

Errr. We are not sure exactly how that factors into the equation, but okay . . . We understand that people try to inflate the values of cars they want to sell, but should previous ownership really matter? Stewart’s F50 is considered a piece of supercar and rock ‘n’ roll history (their words, not ours). Is it really, though?

Sir Rod may have owned it, but that is it. He was one of half a dozen or so who did. You are not getting a free concert; the seats are not covered in song lyrics and he will never care who bought a car he drove, probably very little, almost 30 years ago.


The question remains unanswered for us. We cannot see any good reason why the previous owner’s use of the car should raise the value of any vehicle, but it does. Why it does is completely beyond any logic.

Extending this further, could a laptop or mobile phone once owned by a music star also command a premium? We do not think so. — IOL

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