A Rolls Royce depreciates like a boulder tumbling down a cliff…
Most classic cars follow the “inverse bell curve” shown below. Many Rolls Royce cars, however, didn’t seem to get the memo about the “appreciation” part of the curve.
Rolls Royce’s most luxurious model in 1989, the Silver Spur (pictured above), sold for $143,000 when it was new. Today, that same Silver Spur is languishing in the classifieds hoping to fetch $40,000.
By comparison, the 1989 Ferrari Testarossa follows a more typical classic car price trend. The Testarossa sold for $161,000 when it was new and–after many years of low prices–has rebounded to $150,000 for nicer examples.
The outlook for Rolls Royce prices actually gets worse–not better–with slightly older models. A mint 1968 Royce Silver Shadow now sells for a mildly embarrassing $30,000.
So what’s the deal with these cars?
The problem with most older Rolls models is that they are categorically less desirable than the new model. This is not the case with most true classic cars. Ask a 1955 Mercedes 300SL owner to trade you straight up for a new Mercedes and you’ll get laughed in the face. What gives?
Styling is the first culprit. Desirable classic cars boast unique styling that represents their era. Think curvy lines in the 1960’s or boxy shapes and air vents in the 1980’s. Rolls Royce styling for most cars, on the other hand, is intentionally muted and conservative. Therefore, the older cars simply look like more dated versions of the current style.
A luxury car that’s no longer luxurious
Secondly, older Rolls Royce cars fail in the luxury department. This is the very category in which they are supposed to excel – their raison d’etre. Today’s luxury buyer is enamored with technology. The “technology” of 1990 Rolls Royces is cringe-worthy by modern standards. A car phone? No back-up camera or USB plug-in?
Cool factor (or lack thereof)
Lastly, most old Rolls Royce models suffer from a complete lack of the classic car “cool factor.” The current drivers of these cars–who appear to have a minimum age requirement of 70 and a mandatory dress code involving furs or vintage suits–aren’t helping matters. And young people simply can’t pull off driving one of these cars without looking ridiculous.
Verdict – just say no?
In conclusion, most older Rolls Royce models don’t provide today’s technology, the head-turning style of a true classic car, or much of a cool factor. They won’t become classics in the foreseeable future and the prices should continue to be low. This obviously doesn’t apply to some rare and genuinely stunning models that are worth a fortune, such as this 1925 Phantom. Unfortunately, these one-off models are the exception rather than the rule. Proceed with caution.