A turbocharged American dream

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Top British classic car dealer to open showroom on the West Coast

 

Perhaps the much talked about softening in the classic car market isn’t quite as pronounced as some would have you believe. Take a look at our auction pages where, among other things, you will note that records aplenty fell at Pebble Beach last month and you will see that, far from going soggy, demand is as strong as ever for the right cars.

And it is significant that some of the more eye-watering prices (£17.5m for an Aston Martin DBR1) were achieved in America.

It is against this background that JD Classics is expanding into the US by joining up with Morris & Welford, an established classic car specialist, to open a new showroom based in Newport Beach, California. The Morris is Miles Morris, a third-generation car collector, former head of Christie’s motor car division, and a judge and car-selection committee member for Pebble Beach. The Welford is Malcolm Welford, who grew up watching his father race in England and who also worked at Christie’s and currently serves on the FIVA technical commission’s working group. Together the two have more than 50 years of experience in the specialist car market and established Morris & Welford LLC classic car brokerage in America in 2003.

The new venture will be the first foray into the US market for JD Classics, which has seven showrooms in the UK. The new location (in a former Rolls-Royce showroom) is currently being fitted out and will open later this year.

According to David Godber, managing director of JD Classics, its location is key: “All markets have epicentres and for us the West Coast has a very active classic car scene with many customers attending Monterey week, The Quail, Pebble Beach and the Petersen Museum’s events. While we already have a very active season in Europe this will bring us to America too. Miles and Malcolm are a perfect fit because of their expertise, enthusiasm and knowledge of the American market. It’s an exciting time for the whole team.”

The move is part of a plan to accelerate growth for the company internationally.

SPEAKING TO MORRIS AND WELFORD

Malcolm Welford and Miles Morris explain that quality still sells in America

Miles: America really drives the world car-buying market. What we are seeing is that although prices are off the peaks seen in 2014-15, quality still sells. Cars that don’t need an explanation, in other words those that are obviously beautifully original and restored and have clear provenence, are still commanding good prices. 

Malcolm: Our alliance with JD is the final piece of the puzzle for us to become mainstream dealers, having been auctioneers and brokers, and Newport Beach is the ideal place to open our showroom. Many of our customers have homes here and we aim to offer a credible alternative to auctions, by allowing clients to visit at their own pace.

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