Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans is known for his love of classic cars. Earlier this month, he was spotted in Monaco bidding on-and buying-a rare 1974 Hesketh 308, driven by the Formula 1 champion James Hunt. And, in 2010, he paid a then UK-auction record £12 million for a 1960s Ferrari to add to his existing collection.
In financial speak, classic car buying, like that of art and wine, is an ‘investment of passion’, which, according to Coutts, increased by 257% between 2005 and 2013. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the enthusiasts buying these pieces need something a little more suitable than an open cart barn to store them in. Just as interest in buying vintage wine spawned the growth of wine rooms (‘Stellar cellars’, February 26), in some parts of the country-north Surrey in particular-the past few years have witnessed the birth of the übergarage.
According to Paul Frost of Prime Purchase (01962 795036), whose patch includes the multi-million-pound mansions within the Wentworth and St George’s Hill estates, ‘when it comes to garage requirements, heated floors, TVs for Top Gear screenings and “enough room to get the Phantom in” aren’t uncommon’.
Edward Shaw of Knight Frank (020- 7629 8171) is launching a St George’s Hill ‘masterpiece’ in this week’s COUNTRY LIFE. Shandon, which has a guide price of £15 million, is a 14,000sq ft mansion that stands in one-and-a-half acres and comes with six bedrooms, a two-bedroom annexe, an indoor pool, tennis court, cinema room and not one but two garages. ‘One is a conventional three-bay garage, but the other is something quite special,’ explains Mr Shaw. ‘The owner is a Ferrari enthusiast, so, on the lower-ground floor, which houses the cinema room and bar, he has built a climate-controlled showroom for two prized possessions.
In his study, which sits directly above, he’s had two glass windows cut into the floor, which are positioned over the engine bays of the Ferraris.’ Steve Glover of high-end developer Consero London (01932 506600), which specialises in building houses on the Surrey estates and in London, says garages that can hold up to 12 cars, accessible by hydraulic lifts or landscaped ramps, are standard. ‘These statement garages are a necessity for those spending upwards of £15 million, as they wish to protect their assets within a secure environment,’ he says. ‘Our clients’ requirements often include underfloor heating, with polished concrete, resin or tiled flooring, climate-controlled areas that are set within glass walls for specialist cars and chauffeur rooms.’
According to Mr Shaw, not only do these high-tech garages offer a secure setting for prized vehicles, but they are also an extension of the entertaining spaces in the house. ‘I know of a house under construction that has a curved staircase leading down to the basement and within the wall is set a window, which offers a glimpse to the ultra-special parking bay. ‘Another house we’re selling has plasma TV screens in the garage,’ he adds. ‘It’s additional party space; the girls can enjoy a glass of wine on the terrace while the boys grab a beer and go and have a look at the cars.’
However, these über-garages aren’t just associated with the north Surrey estates; agents say that an increasing requirement on the lists of buyers further out from the M25 is a barn where they can keep their car collection.
The White House in Whimple, Devon, marketed by Knight Frank at a guide price of excess £7 million (01392 423111), sets a new standard for car care in the South-West. As well as a volleyball court, tennis court, ninehole golf course, squash court, badminton court, helipad and 30 acres, it also has a 10-bay garage with a separate display area, which can be viewed from various parts of the house. ‘Now that people are diversifying their investments into cars, not only do they need somewhere safe and secure to store them, but an integral display garage is a way they can show them off, too,’ concludes Mr Shaw.
Fluorescent strip lights
Ladders hanging on the walls
Heated floor (sometimes in marble)
Plasma TV screens on the walls
Sealed high-security doors Speakers plastered into the walls
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