Despite the fact that snow has brought half of Britain's roads to a standstill recently, our thoughts have turned to collectible cars.
It may not be the best weather for a cruise in a classic, but it might be the best time to invest in one, and the past few weeks have seen some remarkable car sales. It seems the market may be speeding up once more, after an already excellent year which has seen a number of record-breaking prices and packed auctions across the globe.
New figures from the National Automobile Dealers Association have shown that collector cars worth over $125,000 have appreciated in value at an average of 47% over four years. And the confidence in cars as viable alternative assets has seen investors, as well as petrol-heads, flocking to auctions in 2010.
But it's many of the most recent sales that have caught our eye, with collectors picking up everything from 50s classics to modern-day supercars. So this week we present our top five collectible car sales from November/December.
Elvis's 1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 Saloon Limousine
5) At number five we have a classic automobile and a piece of rock'n'roll history all rolled into one: Elvis Presley's powder blue 1970 Mercedes-Benz 600 Saloon Limousine. One of only a handful of cars registered by the King himself, the car was driven by Elvis for two years before being given to his friend James Leroy Robertson.
It sold at an auction in Surrey last week for $127,818 to a German collector, despite the Elvis Presley fan club demanding it be returned to the US as a national treasure. But we still have one question: did Elvis choose the colour to match his suede shoes?
The 1984 Lamborghini Contach 5000 S
4) Number four on our list is a classic of 1980s design, a 1984 Lamborghini Countach 5000 S. Featuring a powerful v12 engine, Marcello Gandini styling, gull-wing doors and almost zero rearward visibility, the Contach was both wildly stylish and reasonably impractical making it an instant classic for collectors.
Finished in white with a white leather interior (which could make it difficult to find in the snow over the next few weeks), the iconic car sold at the Historics at Brooklands auction earlier this month for $117,382.
The 1957 Ford Thunderbird F Bird Convertible
3) Over in Kansas, where snow isn't as much of a problem, Mecum's 'Muscle Cars and More' sale at the start of the month raised an impressive $9.3m. And their top selling car of the auction is number three on our list: a stunning 1957 Ford Thunderbird F Bird Convertible.
A true great of American automotive history, the car was one of just 212 factory supercharged cars built with 312/300hp under its bonnet. It had been treated to a full nut and bolt frame-off restoration and had won the 'best in show' title at several high profile events. Its pedigree led to fierce bidding at the Kansas auction on December 4, and it eventually sold for $186,000.
The 2006 Saleen S78 Coupe
2) From the fifties to the noughties, at number two in our list is a far more modern masterpiece: a 2006 Saleen S78 Coupe. This supercar features all of the latest in modern racing engineering, going from 0-60 mph in a handy 3.2 seconds with a top speed just shy of 250mph.
Tests proved that at 160 mph the car creates its own weight in down-force, meaning in theory it produces enough down-force to drive upside down. Although the collector who paid $266,750 for it at Leake's classic car auction in Dallas last month hopefully won't choose to do so.
The 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV Convertible
1) And so to number one in our list. Last month saw the sale of the Milton Robson Collection, one of the world's greatest collections of muscle cars. The auction featured some of the most sought-after vehicles to appear on the market all year, and the top lot was something special: a 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air IV Convertible.
One of only five ever built and the only one finished in Starlight Black, the car had been described as possible possibly 'the most desirable Pontiac of all time'. And so it proved to be, as a bidding war amongst high-end collectors eventually saw the car sold for an incredible $682,000. Although conceived as a cheap and cheerful entry onto the muscle-car market, the 'Judge' Ram Air IV convertible ironically turned out to be the most valuable Pontiac ever sold at auction.
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