Unique Cars - - NEWS - Cliff Cham­bers

CALL IT A FAKE, a copy, a knock-off or tribute. Whichever term you ap­ply there seems al­ways to be some­thing deroga­tory be­ing said about a car that re­sem­bles some­thing it isn’t. Why is that?

In the dim past when the knowl­edge-base wasn’t at ev­ery scep­tic’s fin­ger­tips, ‘re­birthing’ or even claim­ing to have ‘dis­cov­ered’ a fa­mous car was all too com­mon. To­day if you claim to have found and re­stored a long-lost GT-HO Fal­con, the pun­ters are go­ing to take a lot of con­vinc­ing.

Own­ing a ‘tribute’ will save you money that’s true. But how will your in­vest­ment fare over an ex­tended pe­riod when com­pared with the gen­uine ar­ti­cle?

Un­less a car is scratch built like a Shelby Co­bra, Ford GT40 or other glass-bod­ied ex­otic, it will re­quire a ‘donor’ body shell. That may come from a quite non­de­script ver­sion of the same car, such as the Fal­con 500 used some years back by our give­away team to cre­ate a very plau­si­ble Fal­con GT-HO Phase III. How­ever, quasi-GTs can also take as their base ve­hi­cle a gen­uine V8-en­gined Fair­mont sedan or hard­top which, if left in orig­i­nal form, will be worth more than the replica it has be­come.

Amer­i­can per­for­mance cars are even more likely to be ‘cloned’ than Aussie ones. If you are buying off­shore take ex­treme care un­less the car has been ac­knowl­edged as a ‘tribute’. Ver­i­fi­ca­tion pro­cesses can be com­plex and costly, but not al­ways ac­cu­rate.

Ford buy­ers can pur­chase a Marti Re­port which de­tails the ve­hi­cle’s spec­i­fi­ca­tion when new, al­low­ing a buyer to de­ter­mine which com­po­nents have been added or re­moved. The Shelby Amer­i­can World Reg­is­ter pro­vides a source of ver­i­fi­ca­tion which is ac­ces­si­ble to all of its mem­bers.

How much to pay for a ‘tribute’ de­pends on a range of fac­tors. How rare is the ve­hi­cle be­ing repli­cated and what are its prospects for ap­pre­ci­a­tion? Was the ‘donor’ car in­trin­si­cally valu­able and how good a job was done by the per­son who un­der­took the ‘cloning’? If you can’t drive into a car show with­out peo­ple snig­ger­ing be­hind their hands you’ve got a prob­lem.

Tributes aren’t all ex­pen­sive and can pro­vide plen­ti­ful fun for min­i­mal money. If you don’t have $100,000 for a ‘Walkin­shaw’ and that VL Ber­lina with the body-kit and nearly-there paint is go­ing to fool on­look­ers but not ex­perts, then where’s the harm?

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