Beg, steal and borro: Inside an automotive treasure chest

Beg, steal and borro: Inside an automotive treasure chestBlackball Media

There is an old axiom that says 'success breed success, and money breeds money'. In the case of asset lender borro, that old proverb rings true because the firm makes a living from providing short-term loans against items of particular value.

In short, if you are lucky enough to own a yacht, a fine art collection and a jewellery box stuffed with diamonds, borro can help release some of the value tied up in the goods without physically selling them.
It's good news for "asset rich-cash poor" individuals looking to free up some quick dosh and it's good news for us because the firm has access to a treasure trove of valuable cars hidden in a secure location and AOL Cars was kindly allowed inside for a poke underneath the dust sheets.

Situated somewhere outside Milton Keynes, the unassuming unit can easily be missed but as I'm ushered inside by a borro spokesperson, it soon becomes clear that some seriously wealthy individuals obviously needed a serious amount of cash seriously quick.

On the right I see a pair of Jaguar XJ220s that I'm told only have delivery miles on the clock, in front of those sits a Mercedes McLaren SLR and just behind that is an Aston Martin DB5.

"This is the result of a lot of buying before the credit crunch set in," says our guide and borro employee Pamela Baffour-Djan.

"Our clients sometimes realise they have all these assets and very little cash, so they come to us to get a fast, secure and reliable loan."

It's almost too much to take in on a single sweep of the dimly-lit storage unit, but one only has to meander through the rows of tightly-packed cars to realise the level of automotive gold that sits under the many plastic dust sheets.

Allan Read, the man in charge of keeping all of these treasures gleaming (and running), leads me to a particularly dark corner where he stops and grins. "This is one of my favourites," he says just before peeling the dusty tarp off a mint condition Jaguar E-Type coupe.

Beg, steal and borro: Inside an automotive treasure chestBlackball Media

"The owner has had this completely rebuilt," says Alan. "Look at the engine, they just don't make them like that anymore."

Handing over the keys to a pristine E-Type may sound like a crazy idea but, according to borro, more and more individuals are using the service. "Take a footballer for example," says Baffour-Djan.

"Their income can vary over the course of a year, so rather than spending money on car storage, they come to us, we treat it with the utmost care, they release some of the value to enjoy the summer and then come back to the car when they need it."

The scheme doesn't come cheap though, as a typical £100,000 loan against a luxury car will incur a fixed interest rate of 3.49% per month, so over six months, an owner will have to pay £27,940 in interest alone.

Because of this, most of the cars in the Storacar facility (the company borro uses to store vehicles due to their experience and expertise) don't hang around for long. "Most of our loans only last around six months so the cars are only here for a short period of time," says our guide.

But Allan Read leads us back towards the entrance of the facility and points to one of the XJ220s. "This isn't one of the borro cars but we have been storing it for nearly thirty years," he says.

"Lots of people put deposits down on them when Jag promised four-wheel-drive and a V12 engine but when they were delivered with a V6, customers weren't happy.

"They're just not worth as much as collectors originally thought so I suppose this guy is just holding on, waiting for the value to shoot up."

Beg, steal and borro: Inside an automotive treasure chestBlackball Media

There are many similar stories throughout the site, with Ferrari Dinos, Lamborghini Diablos and vintage Rolls-Royces only turning a wheel if the Storacar team are instructed by the owner to do so.

"Unlike the borro cars, we have some clients that come to us just before leaving the country for long periods of time," says Allan.

"We are usually instructed to keep the battery, oil and air levels all topped up but sometimes clients will require bodywork done, servicing and other general maintenance.

"They then drop us a line when they want the car back, which can sometimes be years and years."

When asked to name the most expensive vehicle the team has had roll through the metal shutter doors, they appear a little stumped. "It's hard to say," reveals fellow Storacar manager Martyn Hoyland.

"We have had an Aston Martin DB4 GT Bertone Jet in here just before it sold for about £3.5 million at auction," says Hoyland. "But we have to treat all the cars the same, they are someone's pride and joy after all."

It's hard not to be a little saddened by the sight of so many covered-up classics, many of which will only be gifted a quick blast every few months, some even less.

Just as the scene from Beethoven - where the family lets all the dogs in the pound run free - begins to circulate my mind, Allan fires up a bright red Ferrari Dino in racing livery and eye-catching gold wheels.

"This one still gets taken on track!" he shouts over the bellow of the engine.

And with that final assurance that not all of these beauties are simply locked away and never allowed to play we can leave, and leave happy.

Take a look at some of the hidden gems in the gallery below

Inside an automotive treasure chest
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Beg, steal and borro: Inside an automotive treasure chest
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