Cooler heads

New Zealand Classic Car - - Local Market Report -

Bri­tain’s mo­men­tous and his­toric exit from the Euro­pean Union, af­ter 43 years, will un­doubt­edly bring a short pe­riod of in­sta­bil­ity and un­cer­tainty in global mar­kets. How­ever, now is not the time for these im­pacts to be politi­cized or sen­sa­tion­al­ized. In­stead, here, we shall con­tinue fo­cus­ing on clas­sic and vin­tage mo­tor­ing. I sug­gest that, while the world re­or­ga­nizes it­self, we en­joy our hobby even more and con­tinue look­ing at our cars from an in­vest­ment point of view.

We should think about how lucky some of us are in this coun­try to have in­vested our money in our own clas­sic cars and land (i.e. tan­gi­ble as­sets) rather than in stocks, global share mar­kets, or for­eign-cur­rency ac­counts. We should think about how lucky we are to be a small na­tion, lo­cated far enough away from the rest of the world: a lo­ca­tion that en­ables us to be calm and me­thod­i­cal. Yes, our lo­ca­tion al­lows us to be smarter in­vestors, be­cause we have cooler heads, and a cooler head en­ables us to cap­i­tal­ize on world mat­ters. hun­dreds more who lose far more money than they make.

As some­one who’s been in the game for many years, I’d like to share the most im­por­tant rules I’ve learned over the years of buy­ing and sell­ing col­lectible ve­hi­cles. 1. Once you re­al­ize you can’t come out ahead, don’t throw good money af­ter bad at a col­lec­tor car. Some­times, you’re bet­ter off count­ing your losses and start­ing over. 2. Al­ways get a thor­ough pre-pur­chase in­spec­tion per­formed by an ex­pert be­fore buy­ing — and by an ‘ex­pert’, I mean a mar­que spe­cial­ist, and not just an out­fit that mainly spe­cial­izes in mod­ern cars. 3. If you’re buy­ing as an in­vest­ment, get a proper val­u­a­tion by a proper spe­cial­ist, and don’t hes­i­tate to pay for the right ad­vice — it will cost about $100. Do not try to save on this amount — re­mem­ber how much money you’re about to in­vest in your ve­hi­cle. 4. Let gen­uine pas­sion be your guide; don’t buy a car just be­cause it seems like a great deal. 5. Time is money. Mak­ing a profit on a col­lectible car is rel­a­tive to the time and money you spend on it. 6. You can have in­vest­ment ve­hi­cles and you can have week­end race toys — ideally, don’t try to com­bine them. 7. Never for­get that, as in all mar­kets, car val­ues move up and down at ran­dom times. Pre­dict­ing these swings is more of an art than a sci­ence.

8. Un­der­stand that buy­ing a rare, low-mileage car for in­vest­ment pur­poses means that you may not get to drive it very of­ten.

Buy­ing a clas­sic car

This is rather like invit­ing some­one to join your fam­ily: it helps if they are of good char­ac­ter, you like them, and you en­joy spend­ing time with them. And if they can earn their keep, so much the bet­ter. They prob­a­bly won’t, of course. It’s true that some clas­sics have proved to be ex­cel­lent in­vest­ments. How­ever, as with prop­erty, shares, or gold, the best time to buy is when a car is un­der­val­ued or price rises may be ex­pected, and that de­mands both ex­ten­sive knowl­edge and fore­sight.

In any case, buy­ing a clas­sic car for spec­u­la­tive rea­sons is like buy­ing a beau­ti­ful paint­ing and keep­ing it in a bank vault. Cars are de­signed to move, and will de­te­ri­o­rate if they are left sta­tion­ary. Driv­ing a clas­sic and main­tain­ing it in a fit state to be driven are the chief plea­sures of own­er­ship, but, be­fore you take the plunge, you need to ask your­self a few ques­tions. The most ob­vi­ous is what sort of car you want; yet, more im­por­tant is what you want to do with it. Ro­man­tic week­ends will be few and far be­tween if you buy some­thing scary, un­com­fort­able, or un­re­li­able; fam­ily ex­cur­sions will be im­pos­si­ble in a sporty two-seater; and the plea­sures of sum­mer mo­tor­ing in a con­vert­ible will soon be for­got­ten in the colder, wet­ter weeks of the year.

All-year-round use is also much harder if the car re­quires fre­quent main­te­nance. Older cars de­mand more at­ten­tion, but even a 1960s clas­sic will need ser­vic­ing ev­ery few thousand miles. If that matches your an­nual mileage, this shouldn’t be too oner­ous, but bear in mind that a V12 en­gine will al­ways be more ex­pen­sive to ser­vice than a four­cylin­der and that ob­tain­ing es­sen­tial parts for rare or ex­otic ma­chines can be costly and time-con­sum­ing.

Ac­cess to a dry, se­cure, and rea­son­ably ac­ces­si­ble garage is al­most es­sen­tial, as on-street park­ing is tough on clas­sics, and many in­sur­ers will ex­pect them to be garaged at night.

Another in­escapable cost of own­er­ship is in­sur­ance: with an an­nual mileage limit, say 3000 to 5000 miles (4828 to 8046km), the pre­mium on a pop­u­lar clas­sic will typ­i­cally be a few hun­dred dol­lars. An agreed-value pol­icy is a good idea, so that, if the worst hap­pens, the pay­out will re­flect the car’s value as a clas­sic not as scrap metal — hence the im­por­tance of get­ting a proper val­u­a­tion from the right sources for your clas­sic car and get­ting your in­surer to ac­cept that val­u­a­tion as true, be­cause clas­sic cars should be seen as in­vest­ments not de­pre­ci­at­ing as­sets.

Safe driv­ing … un­til next month!

Even in to­day’s world of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, and with an au­to­mo­tive pro­duc­tion process that’s rich in elec­tron­ics, when it comes down to the nitty gritty in­side an en­gine, not a lot has changed when it comes to re­build­ing them. Whether it’s a clas­sic or a 2016 car fresh off the dealer’s lot, once you get all the ex­ter­nal mumbo jumbo off the en­gine, it’s the same prin­ci­ple as it has been for 100 years. There’s a block in which a crank drives the pis­tons, valves are opened and closed by a camshaft(s), and an oil­ing sys­tem to keep it all run­ning. Sim­ple, right? Many peo­ple might there­fore at­tempt to com­plete a full re­build in their garage — but some things are best left to the pro­fes­sion­als, who have the cor­rect equip­ment. With this in mind, we talked to a few au­to­mo­tive ma­chin­ists and en­gine builders in the Auck­land area, and asked about the steps in­volved be­tween strip­ping and re­assem­bling an en­gine.

46 Taonui Street, Palmer­ston North mo­tor­ma­chin­ists.com

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