The last decade has seen some major changes in our car buying habits as well as some serious upheaval in the UK automotive sector. Take a good look at the thriving supercar and collector car markets today and you would be forgiven for forgetting that in 2008/9 the very same industry was having a truly tough time.
With a record 2.6 million new cars sold in the UK last year and the classic car industry estimated to be worth in excess of £5.5 billion in this country alone, things are looking rosy. We have historically been a nation of car lovers but the “Top Gear effect” combined with a portfolio of world-class events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the incredible global success of British marques such as Land Rover, Jaguar and Bentley have made the UK one of the world’s most important car markets.
It’s not just our appetite for cars and all things automotive that has revved up – so has the buying experience. Alongside some serious investment by prestige & sportscar manufacturers, there is a new breed of elite supercar dealer that owes no allegiance to any one marque and that are challenging the established order – businesses like Redline Specialist Cars.
A trip to Redline’s showroom quickly establishes that they mean business – a modern, purpose built glass and steel temple to prestige & performance cars that puts most manufacturer premises to shame. With nearly 200 cars in stock and 100 new cars arriving monthly (to replace the cars they sell) it is quite literally a supercar supermarket although the team at Redline wouldn’t thank you for the comparison unless the supermarket in question was Harrods.
“We have built Redline from a small forecourt holding into one of the Top 20 independent car dealers in the UK with a turnover of over £40 million” says director Rob Milner. “How have we managed to grow during the tough times? By really taking customer service seriously – just Google us – and offering an unrivalled selection of stock. We buy cars right and we sell them right. We simply don’t give buyers many reasons for leaving without a new car when they visit – whichever end of the price spectrum they sit!”
One of the growth areas for Redline has been in collector cars. The rise of classic cars as an investment class over the last decade is well documented but now cars from the Eighties & Nineties as well as contemporary supercars can now command premium prices – take the Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 litre for example. Porsche only manufactured 600 of what many believe is be the ultimate iteration of the greatest sports car ever built – the last GT3 RS to have a manual gearbox and no turbo-charger. If you were lucky enough to get on the waiting list it would have set you back around £130,000 give or take a few extras but pre-owned cars change hands in the region of £300,000 and it is securing this type of uber-desirable limited production vehicle that Rob Milner and his team excel at.
“The key to obtaining the unobtainable are great contacts, a loyal customer base, buying power as well as the ability to make a quick decision and act fast. Selling the cars is the easy bit” says Milner “- buying the right ones is the hard part.”
The internet has also changed the way that elite supercar dealers such as Redline operate. While selling cars to all four corners of the country and even the globe was not uncommon, the internet has now made it the norm and Redline have had to adapt to meet the demands of their clientele. “Many of our clients now buy online or over the phone” says director John Graeme “so we have had to adapt our processes to provide a remote buying and selling service. The sheer volume of traffic our website generates means owners want us to sell their cars because they know we can sell them fast – that makes them happy, keeps them loyal and gives buyers a lot more choice”.
What is next for Redline? The team are remaining tight-lipped but both Milner & Graeme are quietly confident: “We’ve got big plans – watch this space…”
Five hottest Collector Cars right now – Redlines picks:
- Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 – “The last of the breed – like gold dust.”
- Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera – “Unique and pleasingly old-school. Get one while you still can”
- Porsche Cayman GT4 – “Possibly the best Porsche to drive and very limited numbers”
- Ferrari 355 – “The 355 has increased in value tremendously over the last 18 months. Great to drive and good value”
- Audi R8 V10 manual – “highly desirable and prices are sensible at the moment. Manuals aren’t going to be with us much longer…”
This article first appeared in U& magazine