CLASSIC cars are becoming worth their weight in gold as wealthy investors look for alternatives to the depressed stock market caused by the global credit crunch.
A lack of confidence in financial institutions caused by the problems surrounding the likes of Lehman Bros in America and Northern Rock in the UK has sent investors world-wide scurrying for other speculative ventures for their millions.
Together with gold, diamonds and fine wines, the rarest and most sought-after classic cars are suddenly in demand and prices are said to have soared.
UK-based International car auctioneers, COYS, says that the prices fetched at recent sales are unprecedented.
In the past few weeks classics worth more than £4 million have gone under the hammer, many to be dry-stored in purpose-built warehouses until prices rise even higher and they are offered for sale again.
Among the classics sold by the company in the second half of September was the world's only right hand drive Ferrari F50, which raised £350,000. Although no such car ever went in to production in right hand drive form, it was one of the many bespoke cars that were made for the Sultan of Brunei, in whose country they drive on the left, as in the UK.
The 1966 Ferrari red classic is understood to have covered just a few miles and because of the Arabian climate is in as-new condition.
Another car from a prestigious private collection was an iconic 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, which raised £385,000 together with what is said to be the last remaining unrestored example of a 1955 Aston Martin DB3S.
This car sold for £2 million whilst a rare right hand drive Lancia Aurelia B24 Spyder fetched a more modest £145,000.
COYS, managing director Chris Routledge says: 'It would appear that people would rather buy a historic car and put it in the garage than brave the current stock market.
'These are just some of the cars that have been sold and we are continuing to get enquiries from around the world and not just from traditional car collectors but from those who want to get into something different.'
The company's Spirit of Motoring auction is to be held at Ascot racecourse on Saturday, October 11 when another 70 classic cars will be going under the hammer.