Car Values

What would my wedding car be worth if we lose?

We as an Association have no intention of losing but the above is an oft asked question and extremely difficult to answer. To try and get some sort of an answer we have consulted with many specialist dealers and auction houses to try and reach some idea of values.

Bearing in mind that there are estimated to be around 1500 wedding car companies large and small around the UK and the average ownership, based on the answers to our questionnaire received so far is 4.3 cars per company, this makes a total of around 6000 cars available for hire. Assuming everyone would keep at least one or more cars for their personal use this would leave somewhere around 4000 cars to be sold. A staggering number to try and sell into a non-existent wedding car market.

I feel it is safe to say that the limousines and later Rolls Royce (Spirit era) would be worst hit and many would be hard pushed to find any buyers at all. Who would want the workhorse of the industry the Daimler DS420 Limousine except for maybe the very rare landaulette version. Also very badly hit would be the specialist cars built specifically for the wedding market and rarely used for normal domestic use. These would include the Beauford, Regent, Imperial etc, as there would be virtually no market left for them.

The pre-war cars would have much lesser problems, with reduced values but post war a little more. The reduction in values would depend very much on how fast the wedding car companies put their fleets up for sale. If the worst comes to the worst values could easily drop twenty to twenty five percent. If sales are spread over a two to three year period diminution in values would be mitigated and in many cases negligible. Colour will have a great bearing on values as well, as many cars have been repainted in black and white or similar wedding colours thus making them unattractive in the normal domestic market.


From the experts………

Edward Bridger-Stille, the Auction Director of Historics at Brooklands said:

“Should a large number of similar cars of similar specification and history therefore suddenly flood the market then the effect on their value could be enormous. Not only does the secondary wedding car market represent a relatively small and sensitive sector but typically pre- and post-war motorcars appeal to progressively fewer collectors as the average age goes down with the enthusiasts of tomorrow being the children of the 80’s…….The rapid collapse of many of the small scale wedding car hire firms will have a sudden and profound knock-on effect not only to the multi-million pound wedding industry but also to the auction industry, the collectors/enthusiasts involved and ultimately, the values of the cars themselves”.

Nigel Hodson of Peter Francis Auctions said:

“We are only occasionally involved in the Classic Car auction market as we only hold an annual auction of this type. My recent sale suggests that prices in the lower echelons of the market are tightening although the best vehicles are as ever still in high demand. Anything ordinary or care worn optimistically priced will not sell. As for 4000 wedding cars coming on the market, unlikely as that may be, it could only have one effect. Many would be totally unsaleable due to their type being of limited value anyway, and those of more appeal would but much reduced in price due to the excess in supply over demand for that vehicle type. Many such vehicles would be of no value as they are only of appeal to the wedding car user. Not good news”.

Tim Fleming of Wedding Cars 4 Sale said:

Possible effects on classic and vintage wedding car prices if the proposed licensing scheme is introduced

We have been involved in buying and selling classic and vintage cars for many years now, more specifically we have been involved with the wedding car market since the early 1990s. It has been noticeable that since the last economic downturn the demand for wedding cars by both existing and new businesses within the UK has dropped dramatically. This is partly due to the reluctance to start new businesses in a recession and also the more onerous lending facilities offered by the banks. It is now also noticeable that people will not commit themselves to a new acquisition until the uncertainty of the outcome of the potential licensing issue is resolved.

Broadly speaking, there are a few different categories of wedding cars that are used purely for wedding car hire:

1.   Pure vintage cars, technically vintage and pre war, as vintage implies manufacture prior to 1930.

2.   Post war and classic Rolls-Royces up to and including the Silver Shadow models.

3.   The Vanden Plas Princess and Daimler DS420 limousines from the 1950s through to the 1990s.

4.   The replica cars including Regents, Bramwiths, Beaufords, Brenchleys, etc.

5.   American classic cars, e.g. 1950s, 1960s, novelty cars, other post war ‘classic’ cars.


I would say that the above categories cover 90% of the main wedding cars used in the UK and the ones that are the most popular.

I have not included Stretched Limos as most are required to be licensed anyway for their use for private hire. Similarly, modern Mercedes will normally also be used for private hire or for private social use.

1.   Pure vintage cars, technically vintage and pre war, as vintage implies manufacture prior to 1930.This is probably the safest category to keep with as far as your investment is concerned. The market for GOOD pre war Rolls-Royces is still strong with many UK cars being sold to European buyers. Their values are seldom subject to the ups and downs of the UK economy and tend to ride the recessions quite well. At worst if the licensing issue forced some more of these cars on to the market, the good ones would be mopped up by UK and foreign enthusiasts and should not suffer a large price drop over a long period of time. Maybe time to return an all white one to some purer colours? I emphasise GOOD cars. The tat that is still around, although rarer nowadays, will get what it deserves in the long run!! The same applies to other good pre war cars that can be sold as enthusiasts’ cars. Given time, I would not see a significant drop in realistic pricing expectations.

2.   Post war and classic Rolls-Royces up to and including the Silver Shadow models. Again, popular cars that serve the wedding trade well, although specifically the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud is the more expensive car. The effect of a significant number being sold from wedding car businesses would probably depress prices short term by up to about 20%, But again many are bought by individuals and are currently popular in Europe as enthusiasts’ cars. The all white ones might suffer more if a load were to appear on the market. The effect on Silver Shadows would be greater I think, especially the white ones. Again a repaint might be an option, but not cheap on these cars.

3.   The Vanden  Plas Princess and Daimler DS420 limousines from the 1950s through to the 1990s. Now we are starting to get into pure wedding car territory! Most Princesses are bought by individuals that are looking to do the odd wedding. There is a market for them in Europe, but it is small. It could be that if licensing was to force more of these on to the market, then values would drop by up to 40 or 50%. In my experience, only the very best would sell and many of the rough ones would just end up being scrapped. The Daimler DS420s are used virtually exclusively for weddings and I would say the values of the average ones have dropped significantly anyway in the last few years. The effect of enforced licensing on these cars would be to force the majority of the average cars into the scrapyard on the basis that they are worth more as parts than they are as unworkable cars. The better and best of them including the landaulette conversions should ultimately sell but short term devaluations of up to 50% would be expected.

4.   The replica cars including Regents, Bramwiths, Beaufords, Brenchleys, etc. There are a number of firms now running replica cars around the country that represent a similarly large investment for wedding use. These are cars that are made purely for wedding use and because of their age they can be sold abroad but normally need to be converted to Left Hand Drive and need to be capable of passing at least a Euro 4 emission test. This is an expensive fix! Few of these cars could be sold to private enthusiasts. I would imagine that if they could be licensed a few might carry on, but ultimately their values would plummet as the market for their purchase disappeared overnight. Who knows what they would be worth? I would probably keep one for trips up the pub!! Maybe the Government would compensate their owners for making their cars worthless overnight? (As they did with gun owners after the 1997 firearms act)?  

5.   American classic cars, e.g. 1950s, 1960s, other post war ‘classic’ cars. Providing they are not repainted all white to the so called wedding specification, then I would imagine these cars would return to the original enthusiasts market. They are cars that appeal to the classic car fraternity and whilst none of them are mainstream wedding cars, the obverse side of the coin is that they can safely return to the classic marketplace without a significant loss of value.

In summary, the advent of licensing for classic and specialist wedding cars would, needless to say, be a loss making exercise as far as owners of the cars and businesses are concerned. It is up to everyone within the industry to campaign against this or you might end up with several tons of scrap and nothing else.

Tim Fleming

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