20 March 2023
More helpful advice from our Land Rover market guru, Tom Barnard
If you’re like me, you’ll have looked at the brown envelopes arriving in the post with increasing dread. The biggest bills are getting even bigger, with mortgage rates, council tax and the grocery receipts containing some big scary numbers, and constantly rising. Only the slowly-shrinking fuel cost is giving a glimmer of respite. Without wishing to be too doom-laden, if the experts are correct it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Some of us will have to make some hard decisions about our Land Rovers. Dealers I’ve spoken to say there have been a number of customers ‘cashing in’ their Discovery 3s and 4s, with the most common replacement being the Skoda Yeti.
One trader said the Skoda is like a ‘Discovery Lite’, with a lot of the same features Disco owners love but in a more cost-effective package for those who don’t need the ultimate off-road ability, seven seats and towing capacity of the Land Rover. An owner who made the swap says he has no regrets and even cheekily suggested his Yeti looked the same as the new Defender.
I did a swap with my D4 a few months ago, but took the unconventional route of changing it for a Ninety CSW instead of a Yeti. It appears I got the timing about right, as values of the D3 and D4 are – after a couple of years of rising – slipping in a market which is overall still on the up.
According to Auto Trader, the D3 lost value at a rate of 9.1 per cent in July this year compared with July 2021 – the biggest fall of any mainstream car. The D4 fared slightly better, ‘only’ losing 2.6 per cent. Compare that to some economical hatchbacks which gained more than 40 per cent in value over the same period, and you can see what factors are steering the market.
It seems people who treated the Disco as a posh people carrier can no longer stomach a £500 service, £180 tank of diesel or £600 road tax demand – me included. The 22mpg of my 2.5 petrol Ninety isn’t great but petrol is cheaper than diesel and I like the fact it can be fixed with a big spanner and will be tax-exempt in 2024. I’m hoping its value won’t go the same way as the Discovery’s and is a safer place for my ‘if it all goes wrong’ fund than the Premium Bonds or the 12.30 at Newmarket.
Certainly there are some Land Rovers values going the right way. According to Hagerty’s guide, the price of Series Is has risen by a whopping 19 per cent since December 2021. The experts noted that this average has been pushed up by some exceptional cars, which were both rare and beautifully presented. Many others, they say, failed to meet their reserves at auction and remain unsold.
The same was true at the last Anglia Car Auctions’ classic sale. Although there were a couple of decent results such as a 1982 109 Hi-Cap which went for the top of its £3500 valuation, there were a lot of unsold Series and Defenders which got nowhere near the reasonable-sounding lower valuations.
It seems that the current economic climate is having a strange effect. Buyers who are able to invest are snapping up the best cars which they know will be better than money in the bank as inflation rises. That means anything collectable, from the oldest Series to the last-of-line classic Defenders. Values of these remain firm.
But some vendors of classic models are looking at the prices being asked, then at their bank balance and thinking that now might be the time to cash out. But if the cars aren’t ‘investment grade’ then they are finding the prices disappointing.
None of us can predict what the next few months will bring, but there are sure to be some bumpy economic times ahead and some of us will face tough choices. It might be that your family thinks a holiday is more important than a new chassis for your rebuild, or you simply can’t afford 15mpg on the commute and need to ‘retire’ your Range Rover and swap to a plain old Rover instead.
But if you’re looking at your pride and joy and realising it might need to go just to pay the mortgage, then you’ll need to maximise its potential. Invest some hours in getting it ‘right’. Dig out the paperwork and take the time to advertise it properly and in the right places, with long descriptions and plenty of photos.
Finally, leave yourself plenty of time. Leaving the sale of a much-loved car until the last minute is natural, but you want to be able to part on your terms rather than making a desperate sale. Let’s hope it’s all just media scaremongering and we’ll all emerge with our Land Rovers intact on the other side of the storm.
LIKE TO READ MORE? Try our Budget Digital Subscription. You'll get access to over 7 years of Land Rover Monthly – that’s more than 100 issues plus the latest digital issue. The issues are fully searchable so you can easily find what you are looking for and what’s more it’s less than 10p a day to subscribe. Click here to find out more details and start enjoying all the benefits now.