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Historic Car Art




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.

These days Historic Car Art has established itself as the leader in the field.


Belgian Grand Prix 1954 Poster



Digger: Good morning Rupert,

Rupert: Hello David.

Digger: How are you?

Rupert: Okay thanks, how are you?

Digger: Pretty good thanks - I just wish there were more hours in the day, but I guess you know that feeling?

Rupert: Yes. I know exactly where you're coming from. It's always fairly hectic here with paintings and posters coming in and out.

Digger: Can I ask you about your background and the background to the business?

Rupert: The business started as a hobby and a passion.

Digger: Good! That's what I like to hear.

Rupert: 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. 

Digger: Do they fetch amazing prices like you see some of the other transport-related posters reaching?

Rupert: 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..."

Digger: (Laughs) I hear that kind of story a lot, Rupert.

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 a business.

Digger: Did you have a 'proper job' as it were before that?

Rupert: Yes, I am a pharmacist by profession, so it's a bit of a diversion from my medical qualifications and background to art dealing.

Digger: I'm sure, even so, that some skills transferred across? 

Rupert: 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.



Le Mans 1955 Window Sticker / Mini Poster

Storm Fast (Porsche 917) by John Ketchell



Digger: That's not a bad leap in six years, is it?

Rupert: No.

Digger: And I don't suppose you could have done any of this without The Internet?

Rupert: 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. 

Digger: That's the good thing - you're Internet-based but out and about networking and meeting clients too?

Rupert: 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 essentially a 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.

Digger: Do you get involved in F1?

Rupert: 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.

Digger: 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.

Rupert: 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.

Digger: It seems to me that there's a really big community out there interested in this?

Rupert: 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 them. 

Digger: Do you race?

Rupert: 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 quite young. 

Digger: What was your first car?

Rupert: A Land Rover.

Digger: Were you a country boy?.

Rupert: 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.

Digger: I'm a big fan of The Prisoner and the Lotus 7.

Rupert: 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 and again did well in the BRDC historic sports car championship. But young children and various things take over, don't they?

Digger: They do.

Rupert: 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 again. 

Digger: It obviously makes what you do more real as well?

Rupert: Yes. 



Rover & Bentley out to Lunch by Sheridon Davies



Digger: Are these items a good investment in these days when pensions and shares don't perform anymore?

Rupert: 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 years.

Digger: This may be a daft question, but who are your customers? Is it everybody? 

Rupert: 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.

Digger: 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.

Rupert: 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.

Digger: What are the best things about what you do?

Rupert: 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 people.

Digger: There's a lot of variety in what you do.

Rupert: Yes, there is. 

Digger: A good move from pharmacy to art, then?

Rupert: Yes, I enjoy it more. This is what I really like doing.



British: Empire Trophy Meeting Silverstone 1961 Poster

The Bugatti Pits - Monaco 1929 by Barry Rowe (Williams Monaco)



Digger: What's the future then Rupert?

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 side.

Digger: 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 car art?

Rupert: 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? 

Digger: 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.

Rupert: Thank you David.



Brooklands Bimotore by Roy Putt



Historic Car Art - Britainís only gallery dedicated to historic motoring art


Historic Car 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, etchings
  • Original early 20th Century lithographs
  • 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 the UK.

Tel 01332 694538






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