Historic Car Art - Britainís only gallery dedicated to
historic motoring art
Digger talks to Rupert
Whyte at Historic Car
Art about the business and the popularity of historic motoring
art in all it's forms - posters, paintings, etchings,
drawings, prints and sculptures. These items are not only
great to look at but are proving to be good long-term investments.
days Historic Car Art has established itself as the leader
in the field.
Grand Prix 1954 Poster
Good morning Rupert,
Okay thanks, how are you?
Pretty good thanks - I just wish there were more hours in
the day, but I guess you know that feeling?
Yes. I know exactly where you're coming from. It's always
fairly hectic here with paintings and posters coming in and out.
Can I ask you about your background and the background to
The business started as a hobby and a passion.
Good! That's what I like to hear.
Yes, as a lot of the best businesses do. I've had an
interest in art of all sorts for a long time and I started
collecting vintage race posters originally and other related
bits and bobs some years ago.
Do they fetch amazing prices like you see some of the other
transport-related posters reaching?
Yes. They can be up to £10,000 - £12,000, sometimes more. But they're the real
rarities, obviously. I started collecting posters a while ago and eventually, as often happens with these
things, the collection gets a bit big. Then you say
"Hang on a minute, I think I better sell a few..."
(Laughs) I hear that kind of story a lot, Rupert.
... Then you see they're selling quite well and you get to
buy a few more and think "Maybe I should do a little
bit more with this." I think it was 2004 when it became
Did you have a 'proper job' as it were before that?
Yes, I am a pharmacist by profession, so it's a bit of a
diversion from my medical qualifications and background to
I'm sure, even so, that some skills transferred across?
Yes, particularly dealing with people which is probably the
main thing. So, from there it's grown and grown and we have
become more well-known in this area of business. Now we have
got certainly the largest collection of race posters in the
UK and probably in Europe, available for sale. And probably the
same with historic motoring art as well. We represent
fourteen of Europe's top artists and another one in Canada as well.
Mans 1955 Window Sticker / Mini Poster
Fast (Porsche 917) by John Ketchell
That's not a bad leap in six years, is it?
And I don't suppose you could have done any of this without
Well, The Internet is a huge help, obviously. We do all the
major exhibitions - Goodwood and so on, we went to Le Mans
Classic this summer, we've been to Essen, which is a big
world class show in Germany. We visit Retromobile which is a
big show in Paris, although we don't always trade there. But
we do use it to meet clients.
That's the good thing - you're Internet-based but out and
about networking and meeting clients too?
We're as much based in the real world as the virtual world.
We've got a real building where we trade from which is
gallery. The public can view by appointment and we do a lot
of trade from people coming in and seeing things for real.
We've got people coming here, the events that we do and The
Internet and between the three we have got to the stage
where we're number one in historic motoring art. Obviously, The Internet
helps us reach a wider world market because we don't travel
to The States but we do get a lot of business from there.
Do you get involved in F1?
Not really. Our catalogue stops in the mid-seventies other
than a few more recent Monaco posters. The earliest
stuff we've had in is very late nineteenth century - late 1890s, when the automobile was only just coming on the scene.
There were advertising posters around at the time for
certain marques and we've had one or two of those over the
years. So from the 1890s to the 1970s.
It's impressive, because you've got posters, paintings,
drawings, etchings and lithographs - just about every medium
that you can think of for car art.
Everything that you can hang on the wall and also sculptures
- we have two sculpture artists that regularly show with us and a
third who occasionally does.
It seems to me that there's a really big community out there
interested in this?
Yes, it's huge. Historic motor racing and classic cars is a
huge business. You can see, by some of the shows and events
that are put on specifically for vehicles, like Goodwood
Revival and some of the big racing events like Silverstone
and Le Mans and the other shows I mentioned abroad. These
are all catering for a huge need from the public for
Yes. I've been involved in historic racing for quite some
time as a participant. So my passion for the posters
and the art has come from my love of racing cars from when I was
What was your first car?
Were you a country boy?.
Yes, I've always lived in the countryside and this business
is based in a converted barn. But I had an old 'Landy' as my
first car and then I used to take it off for competitive
trials which was a very low budget (laughs)... no budget
actually, type of motor sport. Then I grew up and started
to earn money and have a business and so on. Then we were
able to do a bit more racing - Caterham 7s, I raced those
for several years which was really good - that sort of very
close competitive racing was a great way to learn race craft.
We maintained those ourselves.
I'm a big fan of The Prisoner and the Lotus 7.
We did very well in championships for a couple of seasons
and then decided it would be nice to do some historic
racing so I did some of that
again did well in the BRDC historic sports car championship. But young children and various
things take over, don't they?
I'm still lucky enough to be asked to drive for other people
so I still get to drive some nice race cars now and
It obviously makes what you do more real as well?
& Bentley out to Lunch by Sheridon Davies
Are these items a good investment in these days when pensions
and shares don't perform anymore?
Yes, for sure. Especially the posters, because they're period
pieces and they're not producing any more. I'm selling posters now that two years ago were selling
for considerably less, for example. The prices are moving up
definitely, although, like anything you can never guarantee
that it's an investment and you don't buy it for that
reason. But certainly with those you wouldn't lose money on
them. With paintings it's the same sort of thing - more so
really, because you wouldn't buy those purely for investment
reasons and you've got to buy them because you want to put
them on your wall. Generally speaking, when an artist is
still alive the work doesn't tend to go up in value and prices
are pretty constant. The work does creep up over the
This may be a daft question, but who are your customers? Is
My customers generally split into two types of people. There's
the car buffs and race fans and the people who own the
historic cars and so on who want a painting or a poster that
features a race or a car that they own or have had or
aspire to. But also, if they're fans, then many of the images
will appeal just because they like the image. The other
sorts of people who are buying are art collectors who aren't
particularly bothered about the cars and don't know much
about them - they just love the image and want to buy it because
it's a painting that they love.
Apart from landscapes and the human form I think that transport
can be one of the most beautiful images - classic planes,
trains and cars just have those wonderful lines.
Yes, and we try to have artists with different styles and approaches
rather than all the same. There might be one or two whose
style I might personally favour but having that diversity
allows for the varying tastes of the clients. So long as the
standard is high enough. Although you might appreciate a
piece of work and the execution you might not necessarily
want it on your wall, which is why having that choice of
styles is so important.
What are the best things about what you do?
I love art in general and have a small personal art collection
which is not just motoring-related - I have a few vintage posters in the house. But I like handling the art, working
with the artists. I like seeing paintings and artworks being
created and I love handling the vintage posters and finding
things that you've never seen before and sourcing stuff.
That's a big challenge, sourcing posters, because they're
getting harder and harder to find all the time. And I like meeting
There's a lot of variety in what you do.
Yes, there is.
A good move from pharmacy to art, then?
Yes, I enjoy it more. This is what I really like doing.
Empire Trophy Meeting Silverstone 1961 Poster
Bugatti Pits - Monaco 1929 by Barry Rowe (Williams Monaco)
What's the future then Rupert?
To keep doing what we're doing, I think. The business is
growing year on year, even in these tough times. So if we
can get through the next few years with this so-called
downturn then it should be strong coming through the other
Tony over at Automobilia Planet said they were number one
for Automobilia and car mascots and so on. And it looks as
though you have established yourself in pole position for
Yes, I think we have already. So it's just a question of
building on that. I think we'll probably do one or two bigger
exhibitions, maybe in London and Paris as these are the places that
spring to mind, over the coming years. But other than that
there's always a few ideas one has up one's sleeve to try
and complement the business with something slightly
different. But as we said at the start, it's finding time to
do all these things, isn't it?
It certainly is. Well Rupert, well done for what you've
achieved in six years and thanks for letting us know more
about Historic Car Art.
Thank you David.
Bimotore by Roy Putt
Historic Car Art - Britainís only gallery dedicated to
historic motoring art
- Automotive Fine Art
& Vintage Posters
- Original works and
commissions by Europe's leading automotive artists
- Large selection of
original vintage race posters
- Sculpture, drawings,
- Original early 20th
- Limited edition prints
Established in 2004 by
historic racer Rupert Whyte, Britainís only gallery
dedicated to historic motoring art has the largest
selection of automotive fine art and vintage posters in
Tel 01332 694538
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