The Houtkamp Collection is a family business led by father and son John and Rutger Houtkamp, who have been true ‘petrol-heads’ all their lives.
John started his career as a gymnastics teacher, but became involved with cars, buying and selling British vehicles since 1977 after obtaining a loan from his parents.
In the beginning, John’s passion for British brands was such that he would ask his own father not to get involved or trade with anything else.
In 1985, what started as a hobby became a serious business, as John Houtkamp became Amsterdam’s MG Rover dealer. There followed successful years spent in a quirky showroom in the middle of the city: quirky because it was not a ‘showroom’ as such, but more of a charming toy shop, close to a canal and quite hard to find.
Amongst the MGs and Rovers, customers would regularly find rare classic cars belonging to John’s private collection: Aston Martins, Healeys, Bentleys as well as (shock horror!) Ferraris and Maseratis.
From the start, the showroom was a controversial matter as it certainly did not meet dealer or corporate standards, and yet John and his staff were immediately the most successful dealer team in Holland. It wasn’t just the unusual location or even the range of cars on show: it was the atmosphere, service and personal attention, which resulted in a successful sales history.
Rutger grew up on the backseat of his parents’ and grandfather’s cars, collecting and delivering cars to customers; as a toddler he accompanied his parents to all sorts of classic car meetings and events. He inherited the same passion for cars and as a young boy he spent every available hour at the showroom.
After graduating, Rutger became an official partner of the Houtkamp Collection (2004) and, since 2008, he has been fully involved in the business, specialising in classic cars.
Of course, things move fast, and a specific approach to reach (and fulfil the desires of) the right audience is paramount in today’s classic car world.
Many years in the business teach that even the average classic car owner/collector is a special person: someone who may be able to invest a serious amount of money in a luxury product which they may not really need, but want to own.
However, it is not just the car purchase that makes the customer happy. It’s the service, the personal approach and the ‘rapport’, starting with the first contact; it is a long-lasting relationship which does not stop at the delivery point.
It’s important to value and understand customers’ needs and specific requirements. The same car can be appreciated by different owners/clients for a multitude of reasons; history, design, mechanics, and even the emotive aspect, all play an important part in the value attributed to a vehicle.
Our aim is not only to sell a car but to surprise the customer, by offering an outstanding service well beyond their expectations. We accompany the new owner on their journey creating, maintaining and enjoying their collection, as well as going to specific events like concourses or rallies.
At The Houtkamp Collection, we believe in offering a unique platform of facilities and services around the purchase and ownership of one’s dream classic car.
Our customers are generally very busy people, and therefore we take care of all paperwork, doing the legwork as necessary. This can vary from transportation to registration, servicing, cleaning, detailing and preparing the car.
The Houtkamp Collection usually buys its stock, as we believe that if we are prepared to invest our own money, we can confidently sell on to a new owner.
Before purchasing a car and investing our own money, we do the necessary research so that we can be sure it is a safe investment.
Our stock usually varies between 90 and 110 vehicles on average, and we sell around 150 classic cars a year.
The Houtkamp Collection is, as it was from the start, run as a family business. John & Rutger Houtkamp take care of the buying and selling process, John’s wife Chelly takes care of accounts and Rutger’s wife, Silvia, looks after research, marketing and the aftersale process.
As for welcoming customers into the showroom, that’s Jacob’s job: he’s the family dog.