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Classic Ferraris, Bentleys soar in value as gold price sinks

The Mercedes-Benz W196 einsitzer is pictured ahead of its auction by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at Goodwood near Chichester i
The Mercedes-Benz W196 einsitzer is pictured ahead of its auction by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at Goodwood near Chichester i

LONDON (Reuters) - Classic cars such as Ferraris, Bugattis and Bentleys soared by 28 percent in value in the year to June, outstripping gold, art and luxury London property thanks to rising demand from wealthy Asians.

Property consultancy Knight Frank, which publishes an index tracking the performance of luxury goods, said the world's wealthy were putting more money into tangible items that they could enjoy as the world economy looks to be recovering.

In July, a rare 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 in which five-time Formula 1 World Champion driver Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina won two grands prix, was sold at auction for 19.6 million pounds ($30.6 million), making it the most expensive car ever sold at auction.

"It's an asset class that's very rare and it's very aspirational," said Andrew Shirley, editor of the report. "A lot of Asian high net worth individuals have acquired classic cars...They keep them in their garage in the UK or Europe and they come over and drive them in rallies."

This is in stark contrast to gold, seen as a safe haven investment in difficult periods, whose value has slumped by 23 percent over the same period following a 12-year bull run.

"The thing about gold is that it's tangible in the sense it's a physical thing but there's no great enjoyment to be had from gold...Whereas a classic car, it's still a safe haven play but it's something you're going to enjoy," Shirley said.

After classic cars, the next biggest gainers in the index were coins and stamps, up 9 and 7 percent respectively. Art, which had surged in value in the run-up to the credit crunch, fell 6 percent over the period as buyers become more cautious and selective, he said.

($1 = 0.6415 British pounds)

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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