Mazin M. Al Khatib, Chief Executive Officer, Nostalgia Classic Cars, at the launch of Nostalgia Classic Cars Showroom at AL Serkal Avenue, AL Quoz, Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: A brand-new car showroom in Dubai has no place for the new — in fact, it will only take on a model for display if it’s of a certain vintage. Aptly named the Nostalgia Classic Cars Showroom,located in Al Quoz, the facility intends to try and make the process of selling and buying vintage models more accessible.

And there is serious money available for models built in a certain year or had a limited production run. Since 2012, auctions have been fetching record sums for the most coveted classics out there, so much so there are even specialist funds that have been set up to pursue this on behalf of the extremely wealthy.

Nostalgia will “cater to those who want to get into such investments as a hobby,” said Mazin Al Khatib, the founder. “In fact, more than 80 per cent of our available stock will be for such buyers, with price tags of $60,000-$80,000. In effect they are buying into an asset that should appreciate in value in one or two years.”

But there will also be space for the more rarefied versions, such as an early 1960 Jaguar E Type (which was in production from 1961 to 1974.) The Nostalgia version is from Series 3. Also having pride of place at the showroom are mid-1960s Mustangs as well as a 1974 Pontiac.

Its most expensive holding is a Lamborghini four-wheel drive, of which only about 300 units were made. A price could be well upwards of $250,000.

In the UAE, vintage cars are getting some sort of renaissance — of course there are the private collectors who offer limited public airings of their possessions on select occasions. There are the annual showcasing events that Dubai holds where all the attention is garnered by nameplates that have a long history behind them.

While they do get a nice polish and some tweakings, the models at Nostalgia will not be put through extensive makeovers to make them roadworthy. That is a definite no-no.

“They will have the original engine and chassis — that’s the whole point of being a vintage,” said Al Khatib, a former investment banker and vintage car collector. “They will be restored ... but not retooled. New engines will only spoil the value.

“Dubai’s retail space has a justifiable reputation of being the trendsetter for anything that happens in the region. I believe the time has come to make a point with a stand-alone classic cars facility.

“Regional buyers — and there have been a few enquiries since we announced the project — want to have a look and feel of the model ... it’s not something that online can even come close to offering. Vintage cars are about being able to feel the experience in full.

“Globally, vintage cars became big business in the aftermath of the global financial crisis (in 2008). The moment there was a slight pick up in sentiments among the wealthy, it was an asset class that really took hold. So much so, investment banks were launching dedicated funds.

“And from 2012, the momentum picked up considerable speed, more so with restrictions being lifted on Far East buyers from importing in such models.”

Auctions from the recent past have fetched astronomical sums, such as the $38 million tag for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, and the $29.6 million commanded by a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Silver Arrow. (Al Khatib’s all-time favourite picks would be a Cobra or a (Ford) GT40 designed for the 1967 Le Mans.)

“Ideally, the best way to source vintage models from an end-user perspective is direct from source and cutting out the agent,” said Al Khatib. “That way you can avoid some of the margins built in. But most buyers are intent on holding these assets for years, even 15 and more. And the value appreciation you gain more than compensates for the margin.”