Financial Times has recently published an interesting article elaborating on the growing interest in preserved vintage aircraft. According to the paper, the prices for Second World War fighter aircraft are heading up all the time, in spite of the current low economy. Rapid price increase make vintage aircraft all the more interesting as investment objects.
Spitfires are topping the list, fetching between £1 and £3m depending on the mark and provenance of the example. It is a whopping increase from only five years ago, when similar aircraft could change hands for £1.25m-£1.5m.
Two-seat Spitfires TR Mk. IX command an additional premium of around £0.5m, for a simple reason that “the owner, instead of just watching, can go in it.”.
Duxford’s Spitfire Mk. VB would probably be worth £3 million if put on sale today
The American P-51 Mustang is generally easier to obtain and maintain than the Spitfire. This is reflected in the price level, which is about half to two-thirds of the price of the British aircraft.
The number of restored and flying German fighters of the era is steadily increasing, and eventually we may see an example being offered for sale. Because they are still very rare, they are also desirable. A flying Focke-Wulf Fw 190 or the Messerschmitt Bf-109 put on auction could fetch at least £3m.
The provenance factor is important in the warbird market. Newly-built Russian Yaks with Allison engines are in far lower demand; one example ercently put for sale in the US did not find the buyer for many months despite the price falling to $475,000.
The cost of running a Spitfire with 25-30 flying hours per year is estimated at £75,000, of which two-thirds is insurance.
In sharp contrast with propeller-driven aircraft, vintage jets are not at all in demand, at least in financial terms. A Hawker Hunter in good condition could be purchased for a “mere” £100,000, but the low price will be offset by high operating cost – at least another £100,000 every year. No significant return of investment can be expected for this type of aircraft, at least not yet.
Instead, the restoration industry is increasingly trying to explore the pre-World War II period, with aircraft such as Hawker Hind or World War I biplanes being restored in increasing numbers. When available in flying condition, these aircraft may be expected to fetch in the region of £1m-£2m.
Read the full FT article here.