There is a new investment option out there for car enthusiasts, and would you believe it, it comes from Denmark. If you’ve visited the small kingdom between Sweden and Germany, you’ll know that both the country and its people are lovely, but notably because of a tax system that seems to be built around the idea that it’s good that people drive around in old, crappy cars, it hasn’t really been the home of many exciting car projects. Things are however changing and will continue to do so, at least if you speak to Theis Gerner Stanek, founder of SpecialistCars up in Copenhagen. Theis runs a new fund specializing on super- and hypercars, the SpecialCars Invest Fund, and I recently caught up with him on a Zoom call to hear a bit more about the whole project!
As you would expect, and as quickly became clear in our conversation, Theis is a car guy through and through. He says that he’s liked cars since a young age and has been importing cars to Denmark for 25 years. With an Austrian father and speaking German fluently, Germany became a natural place to go initially, and has remained so to this day. Theis’s first import as an 18-year old was his first own car, a Golf VR6, and for the last 15 years he has made his hobby into a more solid business, importing cars and selling them in a leasing package, something that makes the Danish taxes a bit less penalizing. He currently has around 500 cars on leasing for clients in Denmark, many of whom are high-net-worth individuals, for whom he’s also imported more special cars over the years. And it’s here somewhere that the idea for a fund was born, notably when Theis imported an MB SLS Black Series eight years ago, paying EUR 330.000 at the time, knowing it’s today worth more than twice that. That kind of value appreciation is preserved a small number of cars, and it’s these that Theis and the SpecialCars Invest Fund target. It’s obviously also part of the general value increase we have seen over the last decade in many kinds of real assets, and that Theis doesn’t see an end to, as least not with regards to supercars.
The fund has a focus on new super- and hypercars, not older than 6-7 years (but having in such cases not been really driven). 90% of cars come from Theis’s network in Germany, with some additionally being sourced from places like Monaco. A couple of weeks before my call with Theis, he had been to Germany to pick up a Bugatti Chiron Sport, and shortly before that, he secured Denmark’s first McLaren 765LT. He currently also owns a Zagato Shooting Break, a Pagani Huayra Roadster BC (with rights secured to buy Pagani’s upcoming model) and has secured a contract for an Aston Martin Valhalla. We are in other words firmly in hypercar territory, with the exclusivity and small series of the objects being the most solid indication of an expected price increase. Having said that, you don’t just go out and buy a Valhalla without good contacts, and it’s these that Theis has been cultivating over the last 15 years of car trading. He is in the right circles and he gets the right invitations. There are however also periods when fewer hypercars hit the market, as the deal flow in this segment isn’t constant, hence my question to Theis why he doesn’t include oldtimers and vintage cars as well. His answer is very honest, saying that given the long and sometimes complicated history most classic cars have, he simply doesn’t have the required expertise.
Every car that is added to the fund will be so with a pre-planned length of ownership, from a few months to a few years, something that can obviously change along the way. During the time the cars are owned by the fund, they are stored in Denmark in secured facilities and are taken care of as is required. Investors also have the possibility to visit the facilities and see the cars. When the time comes to sell, Theis has a strong wish for the cars to remain in Europe, as that’s where he’s bought them from, and will thus look primarily for European buyers.
The cars are bought by the fund in a format of several vintages, i.e. a “sub-fund” will be started and closed at an indicative size of 10-20m, and the money will be invested before the next fund is opened. The entry value of the car into the fund is always the first price listing of the car, and the fund itself is set up as a Danish Alternative Investment Fund, which cannot be marketed outside of Denmark, but remains fully investable for non-Danes. As for the expected performance, every car will not perform as the Black Series mentioned above, but Theis and his fund management company give investors a performance target of 8-10% net p.a. Having said that, you should have a long horizon given firstly the illiquidity of the market, secondly the fact that the funds are closed-end with a legal term of 10 years, although the aim is for a somewhat shorter fund life.
A few days after our chat, Theis was able to go public with the information that his company SpecialCars has been purchased by Selected Car Leasing, one of the largest car leasing groups in Denmark, and will take on its name going forward. Theis, who has built a business from scratch during the last ten years, says he finds it great to be part of a larger group with the resources that brings. For investors, it will be most interesting that Selected Cars is owned by Danish billionaire Torben Østergaard-Nielsen, an equally large car enthusiast and someone who will no doubt bring both contacts and clients to the SpecialCars Invest Fund!
I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Theis and the team lots of luck in this new adventure, which given his network and focus, I believe he has a very good chance in being successful with. Should you wish to find out more about the fund or be interested in coming in contact with Theis, do let me know in the comments below.