It’s not really a secret to car guys that affordable Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars can be found for sale with relative ease. And whenever this topic of conversation arises, the reminder that maintaining these cars tends to be expensive is usually the first counterpoint to the idea. Once you look past this point, it’s worthy to consider the Bentley Arnage as candidate for appreciation.
I track the prices on the Bentley Arnage and they certainly aren’t dropping as fast as they did in the first part of their history. As a disclaimer, I am not an expert on collector car values. To me, this car has never been about an investment, it’s been about an experience. If the value holds up, or even goes up- that’s just a bonus.
When I initially purchased the Arnage, the purpose was to enjoy a car that and done most of its heavy depreciating, and move on. However, I’ve recently come across a couple articles that have me second guessing my initial strategy. I want to cover 5 points on why it’s a good time to consider a Bentley Arnage.
1. The Pricing Sweet Spot
The first point comes from an article in Rolls-Royce & Bentley Driver magazine that evaluates the potential collectability of the Arnage. This article claims that it is “absolutely” the right time to buy. Upkeep is going to be I bit expensive, but considering other classics available in the same price range, the Arnage has great potential. As other Bentley cars have fallen in value nearing the low-teens, it makes the option of restoration (or even moderate upkeep and repairs) cost-prohibitive. One would not want to invest $10k to save a car worth $10k. With Arnage models trading around $30k – $40k, the case for keeping them in top shape is much easier to make.
2. Experts Are Watching
An article last month that was posted on Bloomberg.com suggested that the Bentley Arnage is a car to watch. The article quotes an expert from Hagerty Insurance, which specializes in collector car values.
“For the Arnage, a savvy buyer can watch that market and expect it to gain value over five years,” Klinger said. “Certainly, over the next couple years, the Arnage is one to watch.”
That comment definitely catches my attention.
3. Return on Investment
A point my Bentley specialist makes is unlike a regular daily-driver car, the money put back into the care of a Bentley can be somewhat recouped on the sale of the car.
If the Bentley Arnage needs $2500 worth of work, a potential buyer would want every penny of that discounted (plus some extra… just in case). But if I have the work professionally addressed, not only do I retain that value, but I also provide the added benefit of presenting a car that is “well-maintained” with documentation. That alone carries a value to a buyer beyond the cost of the repair.
On the other end of the spectrum, my 1997 Toyota 4Runner currently needs new valve cover gaskets. The old one is shot causing some oil to seep out onto the hot engine. The smell of burning oil lets me know she’s working hard. I’ve priced this repair at a couple shops at just over $600. The market value of this Toyota is probably around $3500. If I was going to sell this car, would it be worth it to get this gasket replaced? Probably not. Spending $600 is not going to allow me to ask for another $600 of my selling price, and I certainly wouldn’t deduct a full $600 from my asking price.
I know this example is at a much smaller scale than the Bentley, but it’s fair to say these vehicles are both at the (or at least close to the) lowest points of their depreciate curves.
Now I’m not pretending the car is going to give me back every dollar I’ve pour into it, but it certainly justifies a maintenance bill that can be hard to swallow. Additionally, it’s just fun to drive a car that is in tiptop shape. Do you ever change the oil in your car and drive it afterwards thinking “boy she’s running better now!” It’s probably just a mental thing, but that’s the value of peace of mind.
4. Improved Reliability
The Bentley Arnage was built in the late nineties and beyond, an era where reliability across the board was improving for automakers. People joke about the reliability of Rolls-Royce, Bentley, and British cars in general. The idea that these cars should be avoided at all costs is unwarranted, and a residual stereotype from when these cars suffered quality control issues on par with other major manufactures. Sure, these cars have their idiosyncrasies, and can be expensive to resolve, but this doesn’t affect 100% cars.
These modern classics will represent the first era of collectibles that were built at a time when car companies could not afford to manufacture unreliable cars. It will be interesting to see what these cars do in the next decade.
5. Missed Opportunity
The final reason to look at the Bentley Arnage is a personal one for me. I wanted to get this car because I didn’t want to pass up the chance. A car that was an “attainable dream car” for me over the last decade or so was the Ferrari 328. I loved these cars. When I was around 13 years old, my dad took my brother and I to a Ferrari dealership and I sat in one that was brand new. There is just something about this car that drew me in.
By the time I could reasonably afford a Ferrari 328, they were around $35000. I thought the car was bottomed out and would stay at that price for a while. Something changed around 2014 and the 328 started to take off in value (almost doubling within a year). I missed the boat. I had the chance to check one out recently. I was able to convince myself that they were not that great of a car and I wouldn’t have liked it anyway. I was like the guy telling himself he was better off without the girl that just dumped him.
I didn’t want to miss out on a chance to enjoy something I was passionate about. I have no expectation that the Arnage value will increase like a Ferrari, but I just don’t like the feeling of missing out on a chance. You never know what tomorrow will bring.
Time will tell where the value of these cars end. If the Bentley Arnage is a car you love, and your willing to do the work involved to find a good one, I can tell you without reservation, get it. These cars may or may not go up in value. A value increase would be nice, and it’s an interesting sidenote to this ownership experience. But with most cars, unless you are a seasoned investor or car collector, just buy it because you want to enjoy it.
Do you think these cars will increase in value? Or will these end up like the Mulsanne from my last article?