About now you have read every book ever written, binged on every TV show, given up watching your clothes shrink in front of your eyes, thought through every pick up line you can use on the combination of Tinder, Silver Singles (for the older person looking for a slow dance and a quick romance) and Zoom (if the coronavirus doesn’t take you out, can I?), drunk every beer ever made except Corona (there’s so many virus jokes out there, it’s a pundemic).
There’s only one answer to stop a trip to the funny farm and that’s to buy your first classic car. As usual we’ve dragged out our team (well two) of experts to stop you losing too much money and hair.
Dave Kinney from Hagerty, the world’s largest insurer of classic cars, is also one of the world’s top valuers of old metal. Thwarted in his ambition to be a jockey (he’s 2m tall and weighs 136kg) he turned to cars where his main advice is (not surprisingly) “buy something that fits you and you fit in”. Then there’s James Nicholls the writer, lecturer, broadcaster, classic car consultant and founder of AXA Sydney Harbour Concours d’Elegance.
Let’s get their common themes out first:
1. Do your research and pay for some advice if you’re going to spend reasonable money. Most people get financial advice, advice on shares, advice on big ticket items for home but for some reason don’t get advice when they spend $30k on a new, used or classic car.
2. Buy a car with most of the restoration done unless you are handy on the tools. (“I know of a someone who spent $200k restoring a ($140,000) E-Type and sold it for $250k,” says James. “I know lots of people who have spent hundreds of thousands restoring cars and got half it back,” says John.
3. Despite what you’ve read about classic cars outperforming every other investment, don’t buy your first classic to make money. If you buy well you will definitely lose less money than buying a new car (at least 30 per cent when you drive out the showroom) and over time you might get back what you paid for it.
4. Buy a car you and your family or special friend will drive and enjoy. Buy with your head and your heart. (“If you’ve got two kids don’t buy a two-seater unless you really need to get away,” says James. “Buy it because you love it or you’ve always wanted one,” says Dave.)
5. Always get an independent mechanical inspection and if you’re paying serious money have someone check all the papers to see how real a classic it is. This is true at auction, dealer and private sale.
6. Look at five or six examples of the car you love. Get the best condition for the price. (“Pay a little more to get a lot more,” says Dave.)
Ok, now what would our experts buy as a first classic?
Keep it simple
The biggest person in classic cars says: “Something rather uncomplicated.” Dave suggests things with straight sixes, British roadsters, MX-5s, less desirable Falcons from the 70s without the hot engines and of course a really great Holden ute. “Vehicles with a bed (tray in Australian) have an in use value,” says a person who drives a pick up himself. James has a set of guidelines. “Buy a brand that’s still available like a Jaguar (he recommends an E-Type or a Mark 2) or a Mercedes (280SL) and can keep up with modern traffic.” Like Dave he fancies MGs: “Lots of spares and car clubs”. His own favourite is a Citroen DS.
At the end of the month you can pick up a nice Citroen at the Silverstone Classic Auction. Now this is a 1970 D21 Decapotable with bodywork by Henri Chapron, “one of the most beautiful cabriolets ever to glide down the Champs-Élysée”, but unfortunately out of the reach of most building drawers with an expected price of $150k.
At the same sale you can buy a few cars from Hamo’s (as predicted here, he won last week) Dad’s own collection. My fav is the “rare and beautiful, Swallow Doretti that combines practical Triumph TR2 mechanics with Italianate elegance”. Fortunately, Darryl Carthew’s Classic Car Factory in Sydney did the reno for Hamo Snr which means the lights work and no oil leaks. Yours for $100k. Anyway, there’s about a zillion Triumphs he’s unloading but also a couple of real classics like a 1957 Corvette ($160k) and a cryingly beautiful red 2006 Ford GT ($500k).
Can’t afford the call to Silverstone? Head down to Binalong in the Yass Valley where the local motor museum is calling it a day and selling everything old including a 2001 Fezzer V12 550 Marenello Coupe ($310k), the very rare 1972 Fezza 365GTC/4 ($500k) and the very blue 1996 Julien and Boyer Matra-Honda land speed record car ($40k).
Back on to Mazda, Audi and all your other worst nightmares next week but can I point out two great crook car stories. US authorities have ordered a recall for 2014 to 2016 Range Rover Sports because the “doors may open unexpectedly”. Well there’s a feature worth paying for. Life in the time of corona has got as boring as black sheep. Buy one of these and you’ll never know when your life will take a sudden turn or you’ll take a sudden turn and there goes your life.
When David Hosking was on the road for Ford, there was a farmer at Cecil Plains near Dalby who wanted Ford to pay for a new shed. His tractor had started itself one night and drove itself through the shed’s back wall. While not as good as the old bloke and the Brown snake story, it turns out mice had eaten out the wiring loom, caused a cross circuit, activated the starter motor and being parked in gear drove through the wall.
He didn’t get a new shed.