Emerging manager deCar Partners invests in fancy-car restoration

  • Firm invests in classic car retailer, restorer
  • Italian firm Charme leads capital infusion into U.K. company
  • New York firm launched by exec from Christie’s


DeCar Partners inked its first announced deal with a minority investment in rare-car restorer JD Classics as part of its emphasis on companies in fine art, vintage luxury and collectibles.

Eric de Cavaignac, founder and managing partner at New York-based deCar Partners, said he had gotten to know the company founder, Derek Hood, who was seeking capital to grow his U.K.-based company.

JD Classics sells Aston Martin, Jaguar, Ferrari, Bentley and other restored classics that sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars to as much as $13 million-plus.

“He has a fantastic business,” de Cavaignac said by phone. “He has a vision. He built his reputation on quality. He’s exactly the type of person we’re looking for. He figured it would be a good idea to recap the business so he could expand. The market is getting more global and he wanted to be more present in the U.S., plus take aim at opportunities in Asia.”

DeCar Partners and FiveW Capital then approached Italian PE firm Charme Capital Partners, which stepped in as the acquirer of JD Classics. DeCar and FiveW Capital led a minority investment round in the company. Hood, the founder, remains a significant shareholder.

While rare antique cars remain a passion investment for the wealthy, the overall business held up well in the last recession, de Cavaignac said.

Overall, deCar sees the global fine-art, vintage-luxury and collectibles market at about $60 billion and growing, including about $3 billion for classic cars. An estimated 300,000 businesses, typically with fewer than 10 employees each, operate in this universe.

“It’s a very fragmented market,” he said. “The tailwinds are fantastic. You have a growing pool of ultra-high-net-worth people … with trillions in assets. I don’t see this macro trend changing globally.”

Currently, deCar is operating without a fund after launching in 2015. It invests in all its own deals and also brings in partners to provide capital. De Cavaignac previously was global head of strategy and corporate development at Christie’s.

DeCar’s pipeline looks strong with expectations of inking two to three deals a year, he said. The firm is “always looking” to add talent, de Cavaignac said.

Action Item: Contact deCar Partners, http://www.decarpartners.com/

Sales Manager Raymond Liu points to an Aston Martin insignia on a car as he explains how each is hand made, at a showroom in Singapore August 1, 2014. Photo courtesy Reuters/Edgar Su

Correction: An earlier version of this story didn’t include FiveW Capital along with deCar Partners in approaching Charme Capital about the JD Classics deal. The story has been updated.