Collecting Cars Founder Edward Lovett On Why the UK Auction Platform Is Coming to Canada

This past Sunday, the painted rooftop of Yorkville’s Cumberland parkade was filled with a mélange of cool, rare, exotic and otherwise choice cars, and the people who collect them. The occasion? The first North American edition of Coffee Run: the car meet up hosted by UK-based auction platform Collecting Cars, which is officially expanding into North America with a Toronto branch.

Collecting Cars Coffee Run in Toronto

Perhaps you’ve heard about the site through the Collecting Cars podcast, co-hosted by Top Gear’s bald drift-god Chris Harris. (We recommend it; each episode is a treasure trove of gearhead gossip and anecdotes from motorsport legends.) Or perhaps you’ve scrolled through one of the company’s auction sites: Watch Collecting and Collecting Cars. Since the UK-based platform was founded in 2018 by lifelong auto-industry insider Edward Lovett, Collecting Cars has sold more than $267 million worth of vehicles.

We spoke to Collecting Cars founder Edward Lovett just before he touched down in Toronto, along with Cliff Fraser, about hyped cars, snobbery, and advice for first-time auction buyers.

Sharp: First off, why pick Toronto to be the first Collecting Cars Coffee Run in North America?

Edward Lovett: We’re just getting Collecting Cars going in North America, and to be honest, we hadn’t really considered Canada. However, Cliff Fraser reached out to us three months ago with a ‘why Canada, why now,’ and he impressed us. So, we decided to put an office in Toronto with Cliff building the team out.

Okay, Cliff, why Canada? Why now?

Cliff Fraser: The automobile market here is larger and far more interesting than many realize. We have such an incredible car culture. When looking for a car, I find myself searching all over — dealership sites, Facebook groups, car forums — burning tons of time and energy to no avail in many cases. We are sorely underserved. This is what I shared with Edward and it aligned with his vision for the group as it expands across the globe.

Agreed. So, what sort of cars are you expecting for the first Coffee Run in Yorkville this weekend?

EL: We’ve got a 675 LT McLaren, a Porsche 964 RS, a Renault Clio V6, an Aventador SVJ. Like all of our events, there should be an eclectic mix of cars from $10,000 to $1 million.

Is there any snobbery in the car collector world these days? Do you get shunned if you have the wrong old Porsche or something?

EL: That’s definitely not our vibe as a company. We’re very inclusive. From my experience, car guys are car guys. If you turn up in a million dollar car, you’re just as happy to talk to the person with a $10,000 VW Beetle that’s got a cool story, or a beat-up old 911 that’s done 250,000 miles, you know? We all share the same passion.

Electric restomods are hot these days. It seems like there’s a new one every month. What’s your take?

EL: I have no straight answer. It’s not a yay or nay. I think some of them are super cool and make sense. To be honest, I think all of us car guys are probably living in denial to a certain degree. There are going to be many cities where you won’t be able to drive a combustion-engine car in the very near future. So, if your favourite cars are 1970’s 911s, and you live in a city, you’re going to have to have an electric one — or sell it or drive somewhere else.

What’s in your own garage these days?

EL: I’ve got a 1965 slate grey Porsche 911 and a 2018 Porsche 911 R. My everyday car is a G-Wagon for the family, and then we have a BMW i3 we just run around the city. But I’m not a collector; if I own cars and I’m not driving them, I’m not going to own them.

What’s the next car you’d like to add to this non-collection then?

EL: A 1971 Mercedes 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet. I love it. It’s the era of hand-built Mercedes. It’s the last floor-shift V8. It drives like a modern car. Also, it’s beautiful and it’s got four seats – and I think a convertible with four seats is a cool thing.

Any auction results that caught your eye recently?

EL: There’s a car we sold a few weeks ago — which is high value — but just encapsulates what we want to do. We sold a green carbon Koenigsegg in Hong Kong to a guy in the UK who has never seen it, never spoken to the owner. He just came onto our website, looked at the photos, and bid. It was over a million pounds, and that shows you the confidence and trust people have in Collecting Cars.

Used car prices are sky high these days. Did the pandemic drive up prices for collectable metal too?

EL: Yes, more for the modern cars from the ‘80s, ‘90s, ‘00s. This growth in price in the ‘youngtimer’ market has, I think, brought more pace into the market for the older cars as well because there’s just more general confidence in the marketplace.

Any advice for people thinking about bidding on a car for the first time or the people thinking they could make some money in the market?

EL: Don’t buy a car if you’re buying it for an investment. Buy it because you love it. That’s my first bit of advice. If it goes up it value, great, but if it goes down, it doesn’t really matter because you loved it. The second thing: take your time. The auction lasts seven days. Ask lots of questions and go onto Google. Say you’re buying a 1973 Porsche 911, if you do your research on those cars, it’ll tell you that things like the kidney bowls can rust and they’re quite expensive to replace. So, go out, take your time, do research, and find out what questions you need to ask to satisfy yourself.

Images: Aayush Das /