Look I don’t want to alarm you, but the backside appears to be falling out of the collector car market. In the latest Sports Car Market magazine, Chad Tyson asks: “Have we hit peak car market saturation in 2019?”
Many of you, particularly those in the investment banking industry (What’s the difference between an investment banker and a large pizza? The pizza can feed a family of four) would remember peak oil. Clearly, the Chadster was channelling Colin Campbell, the founder of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil. In 2004, the Wall Street Journal quoted Col as saying: “Holy Mother! The good ol’ moment’s arrived!”
Chad says not only is every auction he’s covered this year down 4-44 per cent, but new car sales in the US are in the toilet, too. Tony Weber (great name but probably no relation to Edoardo Weber, who invented the world’s best carby, was a member of the Italian Fascist Party and was probably knocked off at the end of the second big one by the Italian resistance persons) from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries reports that local new vehicles sales were down for the 19th consecutive month in October last year.
Now where do you invest if cars, bikes and petrol pumps are going nowhere fast. Friends and readers: number plates. I know they are like paintings. You can’t drive them. If you put them on the front and back of your car someone will knick them. And they’re in black and white. But at Shannons’ Sydney auction a couple of weeks ago number plates outperformed everything. Number 22 went for $905k ($5k above top estimate) and number 48 went for $755k, $25k above estimate. Of course, NSW heritage plates outperform those from the lesser states. Record price is the vibrating $2.45m sex toy magnate Peter Tseng paid for number 4 at a Shannons Sydney Auction in 2017. Given the Australian economy died six weeks ago even though house prices are moving up again, why not buy the kiddies a number plate instead of a house.
Here’s the thing. I’m sure many of you, like me, keep some investment cash hidden away in a secure place like the bottom of the tool box in the garage or buried near the Hills Hoist. The best you could do if you followed conventional wisdom is take out $905k and buy a house at Parap Grove in Darwin that’s just minutes to the city, Parap Village and Fannie Bay. Yes, I know NT persons think Fannie Bay is the Point Piper or Toorak of their capital, but can you ever imagine someone like George Clooney saying: “Amal, guess what? I’ve sold our 18th century villa with 25 rooms in Laglio on Lake Como and bought a nice five-bedder at Fannie Bay”? Buy the number plates, but be careful of fakes.
Talking of the economy: the cost of getting around is going up at twice the rate of inflation.
According to the Australian Automobile Association you and the gang at home are now spending between $735 and $750 a year more on transport than you were in 2017. In fact, you now spend $360 every week on getting around. “The cumulative effect of repeated increases in transport costs is a heavy burden at a time when Australians are feeling cost of living pressures across the board,” the AAA quite rightly says.
Guess what, suckers? All of us pay $5bn in tariffs and taxes designed to protect Australia’s car manufacturing industry. And guess what again? We don’t have a car manufacturing industry! And most of the $100bn federal and state governments take from us every year don’t go to help motorists, it goes to help fund projects like an $850k study of Italy’s Catherine de Medici through her correspondence and $215,378 to “understand how communities mobilise in Melanesia through the integration of digital media, mobile phones and music,” a CIS 2016 study found. The Australian Historic Vehicle Interest Group has started a petition (www.change.org/p/josh-frydenberg-australia-s-luxury-car-tax-must-be-removed-from-historic-cars) to get rid of the LCT that adds $6k to the price of a $67k car. You need to sign up.
Talking of Rocket Rod and Mazda: The first case management hearing in the ACCC vs Mazda is on Friday at the Federal Court in Melbourne. The ACCC alleges that “as a result of Mazda’s conduct, the consumers suffered economic and non-economic harm. This included inconvenience, distress and frustration about not being able to use their vehicles for substantial periods of time, having to endure protracted negotiations with Mazda Australia and attempted repairs to their vehicles, and being refused any or any adequate remedy for the issues they experienced with their vehicles, as well as being required to make a significant payment in order to obtain a replacement vehicle”. We’ll be there.
And not much luck on the $5 on the bar this week in Adelaide but please drop by and see the old bloke and I during or after the rally and we’ll shout you a Coopers from his home brew collection.
Attention advertisers: next Saturday is our bumper Xmas present edition. You want to book your ads now to avoid the rush and get a good position. John Durie has said he will give up his space above this column and we will even take ads from motor bike companies, electric car companies and vegan organic manufacturers of tofu. Remember big advertisers there is only one column that delivers nine quality, engaged readers (including Barry Scott from Hobart) and two old blokes who struggled to pass kindergarten. Readers get ready for the top pressies to buy for the petrol head in your life, the person you really love (yourself) and holiday ideas.
And I just found out my Apple Macintosh 128K has been losing emails. If I haven’t replied to you over the last two months please email or telex me again.