Kidston brings classic car expertise to Dubai

Dr. Costantino Franchi, Co-Founder and Organizer for 25 Years of the Historic Mille Miglia, said: “I have come into contact with many specialists around the world, but I have always found Simon Kidston to be particularly well prepared and above all serious, and he is always my first recommendation; he’s sure to make a good impression with new collectors.

Simon Kidston is a British classic car collector, dealer, consultant, commentator, journalist and film-maker. His father was Commander Home Kidston, a British naval officer who owned and raced cars. Simon is the nephew of Glen Kidston, also a British naval officer, a record-breaking aviator, and more famously, a Le Mans winner as one of the ‘Bentley Boys’.

With a family background like his, it’s hardly surprising that Simon Kidston has carved for himself a career related to all things classic cars. Simon started his career in 1988 in the car auction department at Coys, London, and was running it three years later. In 1996, he co-founded Brooks (now Bonhams) Europe in Geneva and over the next decade was responsible for staging high-profile events such as the annual Les Grandes Marques à Monaco Sale in Monte Carlo, the Ferrari auction in Gstaad, and the Pur Sang à Longchamp Sale in Paris. Then in early 2006, Simon founded the eponymous Kidston SA based in Geneva, a consultancy for aspiring and high-level collectors. The firm has since become synonymous with Private Treaty sales of the world’s rarest and most beautiful motor cars.

The classic car market is rife with misinformation, shady practices and dubious dealers. To bring greater transparency and reduce the risk of dealing in such a high-value market, Simon devised and launched K500, an online resource giving what he calls “honest opinion and unbiased insight into the classic car market.

He explains further: “We have built our name on honesty and expertise. No single sale is more important than our reputation, and K500 is an example of our investment in genuinely useful market information. We offer subscribers from-the-event reporting, so they are the first to know how the top cars are selling at auction and candid market commentary, but it’s far more than a website. K500 is an online tool for collectors, utilising vast amounts of data that can accurately track values and historical auction results, right back to 1994. It’s possible to see how individual cars, or models, or market sectors have performed over any timescale. When combined with our advice on ‘what’s hot’, K500 really does help to guide the classic car investor. You can’t get this data anywhere else.

Given the inherently global nature of the business, Simon has opened Kidston SA’s first international affiliate, Kidston DMCC in Dubai this year.

Although the importance of the Middle Eastern market is no secret to the global community, there is a relative lack of reliable specialist advisers based here. I find myself travelling more and more frequently to Dubai and the Middle East to meet prospects and advise on investing in classic cars – whether it’s to discuss potential acquisitions with highly experienced clients, or to provide basic ‘dos and don’ts’ to novice buyers, aiming to help them avoid the all-too-common pitfalls. As I spend so much time here these days, it made sense to establish a base in Dubai.” – Simon Kidston, founder of Kidston DMCC

Not surprisingly, Simon is himself an avid classic car collector. McLaren F1, Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS and Lamborghini Miura SV are just some of the cars in his possession. He spent years tracking down a 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Cabriolet first owned by his father. He also tracked down and bought a Gipsy Moth racing biplane his father flew in New Zealand 75 years ago.

Simon is also a regular contributor to automotive magazines such as Classic Cars, Sports Car Market, and Top Gear. He is head judge of the Cartier Travel with Style Concours in India. He is an adviser and the official commentator at the oldest classic car concours in the world, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. Between 2007–2014, he was the commentator for the Mille Miglia historic rally. The Mercedes-Benz Museum invited him in 2009 to drive the 300 SLR ‘Uhlenhaut’ coupe, widely regarded as the most valuable car in the world.

Simon would also “like to contribute to a proper record of the greatest cars in the world while the people who helped build them are still alive to reveal their backstories, and to make vintage cool.” As an extension of this ambition, Simon made several dozen evocative short films about some of the greatest classic cars. Among those deserving an honourable mention are: The Reunion, documenting the re-introduction of Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni to the very first Miura he drove; The Forgotten Supercar, an emotional uncovering of the Bugatti EB110 adventure; and Coming Home, a deeply personal story about Simon’s 30-year quest to own his father’s 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Cabriolet.