DEALER PORTRAIT: MICHAEL GROSS OF CHROMECARS

Michael Gross ChromeCars

In the Classic Trader dealer portraits we regularly present selected classic car dealers to answer our standard 15 interview questions. This time we interview Michael Gross of Germany-based Dealer ChromeCars.

 

15 QUESTIONS TO MICHAEL GROSS FROM CHROMECARS


PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND YOUR COMPANY BRIEFLY. WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY’S SPECIALiTY?



My name is Michael Gross. As Head of Business Development and Sales at ChromeCars, my years of experience in the automotive trade, my passion for old metal and my extensive start-up experience in the digital and classic car sector are a great help.

We at ChromeCars are looking for special, historic vehicles all over the world. We love untouched, lived-in metal; the limited copies; the unique pieces; the stories. That is why we have made it our task to track down such vehicles in order to find new owners for them.

WHEN DID YOU FALL INTO THE “VIRUS” OF CLASSIC VEHICLES? WAS THERE A KEY CHILDHOOD / YOUTH EXPERIENCE THAT MADE YOU A CLASSIC CAR ENTHUSIAST?



When I was about three years old my father restored an MGB, which he moved to Vienna after a stay in Ireland. As a curious child, of course, I always had to watch and “help”. At some point when I was under the car, the fuel line came off and I was “baptised”. As well as this first memory, classic cars were always very important to my family. Of course, a classic car had to be found for my 18th birthday. In a scrapyard near Vienna I found a 1956 oval-window Beetle that has been in my possession ever since. It’s got some friends now, but I’m proud to still own my first car.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB – WHAT LEAST?



We at ChromeCars are looking for exciting vehicles worldwide. This gives me the opportunity to get to know exciting people and to discover wonderful vehicles in remote places. Furthermore, I can fully exploit and implement my experience and know-how in the classic car market and in the digital arena.
I would like a handshake to count as a handshake in our business and generally in a business context.

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WHICH BRAND (S) DID YOU LIKE? WHAT ARE YOUR THREE FAVOuRITE CLASSICS AND WHY?



I love the Volkswagen brand. I can now call three Volkswagen vehicles my own. First of all, of course, my oval, which is now modified but “period correct” for 1956. It’s part of the Vintage Speed movement ​​and annoys many 356 Porsche drivers at various classic car events. The second thing I found last year was a 1963 Beetle that was originally delivered with an Okrasa TSV 1300 engine. The car is all matching numbers with a unique, perfectly documented history. The third car is the summer residence for my family and me. It is a VW T2a Westfalia in unrestored original condition with which we go on tour and travel Europe every year. My favourite classic, besides the three I just listed is the Lotus Cortina Mk1 . These small sports cars with four cylinders and “only” 105bhp were comparable to today’s BMW M3 and won everything, whether on the circuit or at rallies. Many big names from the time drove Lotus Cortinas. Even Ronny Biggs used a Lotus Cortina Mk1 as an escape car for the Great Train Robbery in England in 1963.

WHAT WAS THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY VEHICLE YOU HAVE DEALT WITH SO FAR?



In my job I’m lucky enough to see a lot of interesting and extraordinary vehicles. One of the most extraordinary I’ve ever dealt with is definitely our GM Futurliner # 9. The vehicle and its history are exceptional. However, we have a few more very exciting vehicles that I don’t want to talk about yet.

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THE TOPIC OF INCREASING / MAINTAINING VALUE: WHICH HORSE SHOULD YOU BET ON NOW? HOW DO YOU THINK PERFORMANCE WILL CONTINUE OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

I think that in the last few years a lot of investors who have no passion for the vehicles have bought classic cars, but have viewed them as an investment opportunity for their portfolios. This also explains the record prices of recent years. However, recent auction results have shown that this “high ruler” market is returning to its normal level. We always recommend our customers to buy a vehicle that they would like to drive and should never think about the return on investment. At best, you make a bit of money selling it. But that shouldn’t be the reason for a purchase. Apart from the fact that the often communicated figures and reports on safe investment are incorrect, it’s always forgotten that there are additional costs involved in looking after a classic.
There’s less and less interest in pre-war vehicles. There are fewer and fewer people who still know these models, let alone who want to buy them. Apart from, of course, pre-war racing vehicles, which are an admission ticket for the big events like Goodwood Revival, Monte Carlo Historique Grand Prix or Classic Le Mans. Vehicles from the ’80s are currently a horse I would bet on, vehicles built in small numbers and vehicles with a unique history.
I personally look at original, unrestored vehicles with a good / interesting history. I like it when you can see the vehicle’s age: it is possible to perfectly restore every vehicle but, in my eyes, these vehicles have no soul anymore. Also, when a vehicle is restored, I never know how much of the metalwork really left the factory at that time. I think the market will level off after the last few years of record prices. Original unrestored vehicles will continue to increase in value as they increasingly achieve an art status. Average vehicles will find it increasingly difficult to find new buyers and the range of top vehicles will continue to grow.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHICH IS THE MOST UNDERESTIMATED OR OVERESTIMATED CLASSIC AND WHY?



As an overrated classic, I would describe the classic cars that I find at every dealer. When someone tells me about their perfect Pagoda, when I see the 20th 911 at an event, there is no emotion in me. These vehicles are common on the classic car market and therefore overvalued.

The underrated classics are the mass-production vehicles that used to stand on every corner and were used as objects at the time. With these vehicles, it is particularly difficult to find original, well-preserved pieces. With a Ferrari you can assume that it has always been cherished and cared for. Millions of the Beetle were built, but it is difficult to find well-maintained, well-maintained vehicles. A Golf GTI is also an underestimated classic, as there are few original vehicles here either. Most were hotted-up, converted and tuned by three to nine owners. In general, I would say that the vehicles built for the masses are still underestimated and good examples will achieve good price increases in the near future.

DO YOU SEE A CHANGE IN THE GENERATION OF PERSONNEL IN THE MARKET FOR CLASSIC VEHICLES? IF SO, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?

Yes, the young wild ones are coming. When I dealt intensively with the classic car market 15 years ago and regularly took part in classic car races, trade fairs and auctions, I was always alone among old men and was always smiled at. Meanwhile, more and more young women / men are active in the classic car market – in car care, insurance and in retail. We at ChromeCars are also working on breaking up these old structures and bringing a breath of fresh air to the classic car market.

 

WHAT IS AN ABSOLUTE “TABOO” FOR YOU WHEN IT COMES TO CLASSICS?



E10 gasoline.

WHERE DOES THE “CLASSIC” TOPIC END FOR YOU AND, ABOVE ALL, WHY?



The topic of “classics” stops when I speak of future classics. I think that very few of the vehicles now built have the potential to become classics. Aside from the uniform porridge that is offered, I think that very few vehicles will survive the next 25 years. Be it because of electronics or the installed and used materials. Keyword: planned obsolescence

WHICH MODERN VEHICLES HAVE THE POTENTIAL FOR YOU TO BECOME A REAL CLASSIC CAR IN 30 YEARS?



I cannot imagine any of the current vehicles as future classics at the moment. The vehicles that we now call classic cars all have their unique selling points, so that I can recognize you from the silhouette, they have little or no computer technology, they generate emotions and have their own driving dynamics. They were also built to last. Modern vehicles all have a technical expiry date and all look the same with few exceptions.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF CLASSIC RETAIL AND WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES?

We at ChromeCars think that digital commerce will become more and more popular. The big challenge will be to offer customers the vehicles digitally as if they were standing in front of the vehicle and can take a close look at it.

WHICH VEHICLE DO YOU ABSOLUTELY WANT TO DRIVE AGAIN AND ABOVE ALL WHY?



Connaught B Type. My family was lucky enough to own one of these vehicles for a short time. I was able to try the car on a small test site before it was sold after participating in the Goodwood Revival. The pure, direct power that drove this cigar-shaped car, paired with pre-selection gearbox and the first disc brakes that were used in Formula 1 were an incredible experience. If I had the choice of the route, I would choose the Grand Prix route in Monte Carlo.

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WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL ROUTES THAT YOU CAN EXPERIENCE WITH A CLASSIC CAR?



Northern Spain and the coast of Portugal if you have time and a VW bus.
English country roads. The Großglockner is a must for every classic car driver. The Salzburg region.

WHAT advice WOULD YOU LIKE TO GIVE A CLASSIC CAR NOVICE



It depends on what you want. First of all, I recommend reading into the topic of vintage cars to get an understanding of these vehicles and the old technology. Next, you should enquire at trade fairs and get to know a dealer you trust. A good dealer should take the time to advise you correctly in order to evaluate which vehicle is the right one.

At ChromeCars we take the time to get to know the customers in order to find the right vehicle with you. This mostly depends on the living situation, the areas of application where the car is to be used and, of course, the financial possibilities. Then of course there is a fundamental decision whether to buy from a dealer or to go on a private search. I would advise a newcomer with no technical understanding to buy privately. There are so many details (condition, history, originality) of a classic car that must be observed that a newcomer cannot know, but the dealer has the experience. In addition, the dealer is obliged to give a warranty on his vehicles.

If the decision should fall on the private purchase, I can only recommend this.
“If you have 10,000 euros available, buy a car for 5,000 euros. For the rest, buy tools, repair instructions and rent a garage to spanner in.”

CONTACT CHROMECARS

Michael Gross
Im Ehrlicht 1
07646 Jena

Tel .: +49 (0) 3641 6373-1777


Text ChromeCars, Michael Gross  Photos ChromeCars

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